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Restaurants vs. snow: Who’s open and who’s closed

A quick run through my Facebook feed this morning is showing that Wichita restaurants are all dealing with the snowy weather differently.

Some decided right away to close for the day, among them Bite Me BBQ, Taste & See, the Artichoke,  Fizz Burgers & Bottles, Lotus Leaf, Kanai, La Galette and the Felipe’s at 21st and Woodlawn.

Others aren’t afraid of a little snow. Riverside Cafe is open, as is Public at the BrickyardTy’s Diner, Chosen Wok,  La Chinita, Cow & Sow Deli and Mead’s Corner. Tanya’s Soup Kitchen is open but is closing at 1 p.m.

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And still others are having a little fun with the situation. Newport Grill promised by-one-get-one-free entrees and half-price bottles of wine if Wichita gets more than two inches of snow. And both Larry Buds are offering 20 percent off the bill today to teachers, construction workers and others that can prove they’re having a snow day.

The moral of the story: If you are in a restaurant mood, call your destination before heading out. It looks like more restaurants are closed than open, and I suspect it will continue in that direction through the course of the day.

Three Wichita restaurant reviews in one day

In today’s Go! section, we offer not one, not two but  THREE restaurant reviews. Three!!!!

We pulled it off with the help of the newly restocked Wichita Eagle Dining Panel, which has been quite prolific during its first month of service. I’ve already run five of their reviews and have another few ready and waiting to go.

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Today’s reviews include:

1. Deano’s Grill & Tapworks: I reviewed this new sports bar, which opened in October in the former Louie’s space at 9747 E. 21st St. N. The dining room is very nice, and the zillions of high definition televisions everywhere make it a great place to watch a game. The food is a bit hit and miss, but the hits are really good.

2. Le Monde Cafe & Deli: Dining panelist Chad Molen visited Le Monde at 602 N. West St., which has been one of my favorite places in Wichita since I moved here. Its amazing fattouch salad and crumbly sweet biscuits are imitated by many, but no one makes it like Le Monde.

3. Pho Hien: Finally, panelist James Kelly gives a short-but-sweet review of a great dish at Pho Hien, a cash-only Vietnamese soup restaurant at 1750 N. Broadway. Apologies to Kelly: A publishing mixup caused Sam Connelly’s picture to appear with his review in the paper, but Kelly took it in stride, joking that he’d be able to keep his anonymity in tact a little longer.

La Fiesta is now Mexico Viejo

Mexico Viejo

Mexico Viejo

Sometime last week, La Fiesta became Mexico Viejo.

Customers who drive past will notice a new sign is up at the restaurant at 6920 W. 21st St. A manager said that the restaurant has new owners, though he declined to say who. He said the menu is slightly different but not much else, including the hours and the interior, has changed.

La Fiesta took over the space in November of 2011. It had been La Mesa before that.

Man killed in weekend accident was Emerson Biggins West manager

The 26-year-old Wichita man who died in a one-car accident on Sunday was the manager of Emerson Biggins West.

Luis Beltran Lopez III was killed in the one car accident at Kellogg and I-235, which happened about 2 a.m. on Sunday.

Lopez was driving a 2007 Mercury Mountaineer that was going east on Kellogg. As his SUV took the ramp to southbound I-235, it left the road and went into the ditch, rolling several times and crossing both lanes of I-235. Lopez was ejected from the car, the police report from the accident said.

On Monday, Lopez’s Facebook page was filled with condolences from co-workers and friends.

He was the son of Luis Lopez, who also owns the Old Town Emerson Biggins. The senior Lopez also owned Wichita’s two Brews Brothers Ice House Bar and Grill when they operated.

Funeral arrangements are pending at Downing & Lahey West.

Recognizing Wichita’s best popcorn

Popcorn ILLUS.jpgNational Popcorn Day was on Sunday, but many popcorn lovers are celebrating it throughout this week. (Sonic Drive-In, for example, has declared today National Popcorn Day and is celebrating by offering servings of its popcorn chicken for $1.)

My family loves popcorn so much that last year, I bought a movie theater-style popcorn making machine to have in the house, and it gets used several times a week. I’ve also become rather knowledgeable about the best popcorn poppers around Wichita. Here are my picks:

1. Warren Theatre popcorn: If you’ve attended a movie in a town other than Wichita recently, you know how good we have it with our luxurious Warren Theatres — who also happen to make some delicious popcorn. If you have the discipline to skip the butter, the Warren also has self-serve stations where patrons can sprinkle their corn with flavored salts, from nacho cheese to cinnamon sugar. The best part of Warren popcorn, though: If you order a large, they’ll REFILL IT FOR FREE. I picked up this tip a year ago, and it’s been a life changer.

2. Mort’s, 923 E. First St.: Mort’s is among the bars in Wichita that has an always-popping popcorn machine,  and patrons are encouraged to help themselves for free. Mort’s popcorn is special because it’s liberally coated in jalapeno salt, giving it a delicious kick. Pair it with a vodka martini and thank me later.

3. Heroes, 117 N. Mosley: Heroes is another Wichita bar that keeps the popcorn popping in a machine set up in the back. Patrons can self-serve into plastic baskets and much away while they wait for their beers and burgers.

It’s worth nothing that Wichita also has a few gardening centers and hardware stores that provide popcorn to shoppers.

Do you have a favorite popper I’ve overlooked?

Iconic nude painting stolen from Wichita’s Candle Club; reward offered

The only part of the missing painting we can show you

The only part of the missing painting we can show you

Anyone who’s ever visited the Candle Club men’s room has seen the painting.

A woman wearing nothing but a pink hair ribbon and some jewelry reclines, a jug of Chianti and two goblets resting beside her.

The painting was an acquisition by Ted Werts, the founder of the private supper club at 6135 E. 13th St N. It hung on the wall of the men’s room since at least the late 1970s or early 1980s, said John Fitzhum, the current general manager of the club.

But sometime late on the Friday night before Thanksgiving, the painting disappeared.

Initially, Fitzhum said, he thought it was a prank. Many members over the years have joked that they wanted to steal the painting, he said.

“But now that it’s been two months, I don’t think it’s a prank,” he said.

No one at the club’s front desk noticed anyone leaving with the painting, so Fitzhum theorizes that someone grabbed it, left the restroom through its back entrance and sneaked out through an often-vacant party room.

Longtime members are not amused.

The painting was a piece of Candle Club history and one of its best conversation pieces. Some members are even asking Fitzhum to have a reproduction made.

Fitzhum said he just wants the painting back, no questions asked. He’s even willing to put up a $275 reward, he said.

If he gets it back, he vows, the painting will be affixed to the wall quite solidly.

“People are really angry that it’s gone,” he said. “It’s been there 30 years at least.”

Chop Shop will make the Anchor more delicious

Schane Gross’ Douglas Avenue Chop Shop, a high-end butcher shop she’s opening next to her popular bar/restaurant the Anchor, is close to finished. She’s aiming for a soft-opening on Feb. 11 and 12 that will include an artisan cheese and wine tasting. (The grand opening won’t be until late March.)

In the meantime, she’s talking about how the new meat shop will benefit diners at the Anchor.

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Gross has plans to add steak specials to the menu next door. The Anchor has lots of good bar food at the moment, but steak isn’t on the menu.

The Douglas Avenue Chop Shop, 1113 E. Douglas, also will be able to produce its own sausages, which will be added to the menu next door. Gross is working on signing up local restaurant/bars to purchase their own signature sausages from the shop. She envisions future “sausage fests” where diners could travel from restaurant to restaurant, sampling sausages and tasting beer.

Other additions to the Anchor menu that the Chop Shop will make possible include meatballs and samples of high-end cheeses.

The Douglas Avenue Chop Shop at 1113 E. Douglas is coming right along.

The Douglas Avenue Chop Shop at 1113 E. Douglas is coming right along.

Gross has a million ideas for her new business, including a cheese club where customers would be able to sample fancy cheeses and buy them at cost. She says she’ll be selling thin-sliced meat appropriate for making pho at home, and she’ll also have hard-to-get items such as rabbit.

When the Chop Shop is up and running, Gross will sell Creekstone Farms meat and other fancy cuts.

For information on the Chop Shop opening and the wine and cheese party, check the Douglas Avenue Chop Shop Facebook page.

Three local Wichita restaurants that feed the Shockers

Timirie Shibley with Coach Gregg Marshall on Sunday morning. Read more here: http://blogs.kansas.com/dining/#storylink=cpy

Timirie Shibley with Coach Gregg Marshall on Sunday morning.

What do the Shockers eat?

Three Wichita restaurants know.

Locally owned eateries Doo-Dah Diner, Sweet Basil, Bella Luna Cafe have the corner on the Shockers catering business. When the team has a home game, the players and coaches are served catered meals from these restaurants four hours before tipoff.

The owners of the restaurants say they have learned what Shockers do and don’t want. Carbs are good. Protein is good. Basic is good. Nothing too fancy for the guys.

The newest addition to the catering crew is Doo-Dah Diner, which serves breakfast and lunch at 206 E. Kellogg. Timirie Shibley, who owns the restaurant with chef/husband Patrick, said Doo-Dah was recommended by the owners of Bella Luna.

Doo-Dah gets the job when the Shockers play early and want breakfast. The Shibleys have done three games already and have more on the books. They take the team scrambled eggs, sausages, maple pepper bacon, oatmeal, cinnamon rolls and quiche. Though team managers told the Shibleys to keep it basic, they experimented with some crispy morning potatoes made with peppers and onions. They were such a hit with the players that the Shibleys have added the potatoes to the breakfast menu at the restaurant, too, Timirie said.

Getting to know the players and coaches has been fun, Timirie said, and she was particularly pleased on Sunday when Coach Gregg Marshall was particularly pleased the homemade crust on the quiche.

“A week ago, we got a text that said, ‘The boys love your food like no other. When can we plan the rest of the season?’” Timirie said.

Bella Luna, a popular Mediterranean restaurant with three locations, usually caters Saturday Shockers games. The restaurant, said a manager, serves the team a spread of beef kabobs, pasta diablo, corn on the cob, roasted potatoes and salad.

One of the most seasoned Shockers caterers is Sweet Basil, the Italian restaurant at 2424 N. Woodlawn owned by Charli Singh. Sweet Basil has been catering game days since 1986 — before Singh even owned the restaurant.

The team’s dietitian asks for foods that have a good mix of starches, fats, proteins and sugars, Singh said. A usual spread includes lasagna, chicken satay, grilled chicken breast, steaks, cheesecake and brownies.

Singh, who said he has amassed a nice collection of autographed Shocker’s posters over the years, said he happily entertains requests from the players — and occasionally likes to surprise them.

“For Christmas, they got prime rib,” he said. “They really liked that.”

Restaurants, bars open tonight and on Christmas

chineseturkeyJust to recap: Lots of Wichita restaurants and bars will be closed or closing early today and tomorrow.

But not all of them.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve gathered up three lists you might find useful over the next couple of days.

The first one is restaurants open later on Christmas Eve. If you’re not sure about you favorite restaurant, just give it a call. Though most are closing early, I found. Here’s a list of who’s open later. 

Second is my list of restaurants that will be open and serving food tomorrow, on Christmas Day. It’s the usual collection of sports bars, Chinese places and Denny’s-esque diners. But a few nice places, such as Sienna Tuscan Steakhouse in the Ambassador Hotel downtown, will be open, too. Here’s that list. 

Finally, here’s a list of the local bars that will take you in on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day when you’ve reached your limit of family time.

Merry Christmas to all, and please eat something good.

Enjoy your bird. I’ll see you in December

598357_10151135686580949_1587676994_nI will be eating lots of food, but I won’t be writing about any next week.

At least not on this blog.

See you back here on Dec. 3.

Happy Turkey Day.