d’Sozo chef back with Garden Grill Cafe

Inside the new Garden Grill Cafe.

Since d’Sozo went out of business last spring, I’ve been getting frequent e-mails from vegetarian/vegan diners wanting to know where chef Miguel Larcher was and when he’d be cooking again.

On Thursday, Larcher finally opened his new restaurant he’s been working on for months, Garden Grill Cafe, on the first floor of Occidental Plaza, 300 N. Main. (Longtime Wichitans will remember Two Feathers, El Torero and other restaurants operating in the space.)

The restaurant focuses on vegetarian and vegan food made with Greek, Italian and Mediterranean flavors. Larcher is offering daily specials and a menu full of smoothies, sandwiches, pizzas and pasta dishes. (You can see the menu here. 

The Garden Grill Cafe is inside the Occidental Plaza.

Larcher, a native of Martinique, plans Tuesday-night cooking classes and Monday-night lectures by health professionals. He’ll open for Sunday brunch starting on Nov. 4.

Until then, his hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays with dinner hours from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

For more information, call 316-978-9213.

d’Sozo chef still planning new place

Chef Miguel Larcher

When Chef Miguel Larcher bought vegan restaurant d’Sozo from former owner Larry Cook back in December, his plans were to close it and reopen it with a new name.

He did — briefly. Larcher called the restaurant Miguel’s Eat-In Cafe, and he said he’d continue to operate at the original location at 1812 S. Seneca until he found a new location.

That didnt’ last, and he ended up closing to devote himself to the search. He thought he had a place picked out last week in downtown Wichita, but at the last minute, the deal fell through. Larcher now says he has a line on a few other spaces that look good. He hopes to be reopen by the end of this year.

In the meantime, Larcher is about to publish a new cookbook. It’s called “Three Olives – Of the Sea” and will be ready in July. It’ll feature vegan recipes and will be avaialable in local bookstores.

I’ll let you know when he finds a spot.

Dolci & Joes goes… plus other closings

Dolci & Joe's is closed.

Perhaps the New Year forced some restaurants to take a hard look at how their businesses were doing. Suddenly, news of closings are everywhere. A quick roundup:

Dolci & Joes, the sandwich shop at 3425 E. Douglas known for fabulous sweet potato fries and homemade ketchup, is gone. A sign posted on the door of the empty building thanks customers for their patronage and says the business is “closed until further notice.” Phone calls to the owners haven’t been returned, but once they are, we’ll let you know if that means there’s hope for a reopening.

And the Wiener Is, 2322 E. Douglas: I told you about this one yesterday. That place has vanished into thin air. The building shows no signs the restaurant was ever there.

Sloppy Joe’s, 803 N. West St. After six months in business, Sloppy Joe’s, the tiny restaurant that specialized in the messy sandwich, has closed.

Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill, 233 N. Mosley: I wondered for years how this chain in Old Town was hanging on. It isn’t any more.

Imbiss Grille, 315 N. Mead: I also wondered how this German restaurant made it, though it kept making it and making it. Now, it’s closed, and businessman Chris Fincher plans to open Todd Brians Brick Street Cafe & Tavern in the space in February.

Speedy Burger, 3090 W. 13th St. N.: This burger joint, which reopened in February after a car crashed into it, has apparently been closed for a couple of months.

d’Sozo, 1812 S. Seneca: The vegan restaurant isn’t closed, per se, but chef Miguel Larcher recently took it over and changed the name to Miguel’s Eat-In Cafe. He’ll continue to operate at the space with the same hours — 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through Fridays — until he finds a new location.

Know of any other sudden closures I’m missing? E-mail me.

Chef Chat: d’Sozo’s Miguel Larcher

I spent the afternoon yesterday with Miguel Larcher, the fascinating head chef at d’Sozo, the year-old vegan restaurant at 1812 S. Seneca.

Larcher is a Martinique-born cook who trained both at home and in Nice, France. His food is strictly vegan, and his talents are in high demand.

On Friday, we’ll publish this story, which contains the conversation I had with Larcher. What I couldn’t fit in the paper (he’s just too interesting) is information about his candlelight dinners and cooking classes, which he puts on regularly in the cavernous restaurant.

The dinners happen on the first and third Tuesdays of each month and feature a menu of fancy vegan dishes. A recent Tuesday night dinner featured a beef dumpling served with a curry emulsion, a stuffed cucumber gazpacho, a three-frut granita and saffron tamale with a fricasse of oyster mushrooms. Dessert was infused lime and apple Streusel caramel crepes. Yum. The dinners are $30 a person and are staged in a separate room with candlelight, harp and violin music and a rose. Call for reservations.

Larcher also puts on a variety of cooking classes covering topics such as knife skills and bread baking, and there are classes for kids, too. For more information, call the restaurant at 316-295-4498 or visit the website.

Vegetarian dining

20070613 Fresh foodA reader named Barbara wrote over the weekend to pose a commonly asked question: Where can vegetarians find the best dishes in Wichita?

Barbara noted that she loves the vegetarian offerings at The Anchor, where juicy portobello sandwiches are on the menu, but she wondered where else she should try.

Following are a few of my suggestions. By all means, chime in if you can think of others.

1. D’Sozo, 1812 S. Seneca: This restaurant isn’t very old and opened in sort of an unexpected area. But it has a trained vegetarian chef preparing very good vegan and vegetarian dishes. When I reviewed it a few months ago, I was impressed with some fresh and fabulous soups and sandwiches, and the chef offers daily specials as well.

2. Zen Vegetarian Cuisine, 3101 N. Rock Road: This vegetarian Asian restaurant does a great job of preparing food that eliminates meat but not flavor. The chef experiments with lots of meat substitutes and fills dishes full of fresh veggies. I’ve heard they updated their menu recently, but I need to investigate.

3.  Maharaja, 3008 W. Central: Indian food is a good choice for vegetarians, and Maharaja offers several exotic uses of the green and leafy-s. The chefs care about vegetarians, so much so that they recently put on a special all-vegetarian dinner.

What am I missing?