Need Valentine’s treats? Lots of Wichita bakeries can oblige

Some of the Valentine's Day treats at La Galette.

Some of the Valentine’s Day treats at La Galette.

Few days of the year offer a better excuse to gorge on cookies, chocolate, cake, chocolate, chocolate-covered strawberries and, of course chocolate than Valentine’s Day.

Several local bakeries are in full-on Valentine’s Day alert, and many say they will still have plenty of stock through the day Friday for last-minute treat buyers.

Among them:

La Galette, 1017 W. Douglas, 316-267-8541: The French bakery and restaurant is going Valentine’s Day crazy this year, said owner Michelle Abdayem. The display cases are overflowing with decorated heart-shaped cakes, heart-shaped cheesecakes, three different kinds of chocolate-dipped strawberries and delicate French macarons in a pastel rainbow of colors. Customers also can get a sampling of the treats in a pretty box for $14.99. La Galette will open early on Friday — at 8 a.m. — and will remain open until all the sweetness is sold.

J. Rae’s Bakery, 2357 N. Maize Road, 316-721-0090: This New Market Square bakery also is selling Valentine’s Day treats and will be fully stocked through Friday, selling 10-12 flavors of cupcakes, decorated cookies, cake balls, chocolate-covered strawberries and more. The shop will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Cravings Gluten Free Bakery, 3700 E. Douglas, 316-239-9853: You can treat your gluten-free Valentine, too, thanks to Cravings Gluten Free Bakery in Clifton Square. The bakery will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and will be serving heart-shaped cakes, cupcakes, cookies and cake balls.

Know of another bakery I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.

Question of the week: Best quick lunch?

At least once a week, I have to grab a quick lunch to bring back to the Eagle and eat at my desk. And I like some variety.

Often, I’ll call ahead to La Galette and they’ll package up a quiche/fattouch combo, which I run in and pick up lickety-split. The other day, I grabbed some pre-made sushi from the Fresh Market counter, which was decent. Today, I had a pretty tasty Southwestern salad from QuikTrip.

What’s your favorite lunch-on-the-go, and where do you get it?

Answer in the comments section below.

Restaurants take vacations, too

A few weeks ago, a reader wrote to ask me if Yen Ching, the classic Wichita Chinese restaurant at 430 N. Rock Road, was out of business. She’d stopped by for lunch and it was closed and looked deserted, an appearance not helped by the fact that the awning over the entry way was missing. It has actually been gone for months now.

We investigated (i.e. called and listened to the restaurant’s voice mail greeting) and learned that the owners were just on vacation. Yen Ching reopened a few days later and has remained open. Still, rumors persist that it’s closed. I saw someone on Twitter lament its closing just a few days ago.

It’s somewhat typical for family-run restaurants to close down for a week or two out of the year for vacation, but it can cause panic among its loyal diners. La Gallette’s owners, for example, just closed down their restaurant at 1017 W. Douglas for a week for vacation. They’ve been back in business this week but are closing again starting Wednesday until Aug. 5.

Question of the week: Wichita’s best cookie

What with Valentine’s Day and Girl Scout Cookie delivery time, cookies are everywhere these days.

I can’t stop thinking about them, which isn’t just a seasonal problem for me. It’s a constant problem.

My question of the week: Which local baker or restaurant makes the best cookies? I have a few nominees, including the amazing frosted sugar cookies baked at Connie’s Cookies and the crumbly, not-t0-sweet French butter cookies made at bakeries such as La Galette. 

Who, besides your mom, bakes your favorite cookie in Wichita? Answer in the comments section below.

Question of the week: Who makes the best hummus?

All this Lebanese dinner talk has me craving kibbe and hummus and fattouch. In fact, I had to dash in to La Galette this afternoon to grab their fattouch, which is topped with the most amazing and fabulous pink-hued dressing.

But in Wichita — which is quite possibly the Lebanese cuisine capitol of THE COUNTRY — hummus is probably the star.

Local restaurants all do their hummus a little differently. Some is more creamy. Some is topped with pine nuts. Some is sprinkled with delightfully crunchy whole chickpeas.

In your opinion, which local restaurant serves the best hummus? And what do you like about it? Answer in the comments section below.

Two restaurants that were closed but not “closed”

Longtime customers of two Wichita restaurants might have noticed that they were closed down during normal business hours last week. But DON’T PANIC! Both had good reasons for being closed, and both are now back in business.

La Galette, the cafe and bakery at 1017 W. Douglas that’s run by the Abdayem family, is reopened today after a 12-day closing, during which the owners took a summer vacation. (They deserve it, don’t they? The place has been open for 25 years!)

Sumo by Nambara, the hibachi grill at 11233 E. 13th St. N. that also is one of Wichita’s best sushi spots, reopened Saturday after closing down for five days while managers redid the kitchen floor.

Now, no other restaurants need to be closing without checking in first. Hear?

Delano’s La Galette turns 25

This week, I wrote my dining story for the Go! section about La Galette, one of my favorite neighborhood eateries. The restaurant’s owners, Tony Abdayem and his family, are celebrating 25 years in business this week.

This is an accomplishment considering that many restaurants these days struggle to stay open past 25 months. And it’s especially amazing when you consider how much the restaurant has grown from the tiny, seven-seat, can’t-afford-a-sign operation it was on May 17, 1986.

I sat down with Tony on Tuesday, the actual anniversary, and before I knew it, more than an hour had sped by. He’s an interesting many with a passion for his business.

What do I love best at La Galette? There’s no better fattoch dressing in town, in my opinion. Their’s is a vibrant purple-pink color and is made with sumac, olive oil, lemon juice and emulsified red onion. I also am addicted to their quiches, made in individual round crusts, which to me taste like dessert. And for actual dessert, I can’t get enough of the crumbly French petit fours and the heart-shaped, crispy-sweet palmiers, which are visible just in front of Tony in my picture above.

Happy Birthday to a Wichita treasure.

Question of the week: Best family-owned restaurants

Family members of the late Connie Lopez, who still run Connie's Mexico Cafe at 2227 N. Broadway.

I’ve written over the years about several restaurants that are owned and run by members of a family. Some that come to mind: DeFazio’s, Bella Vita Bistro, Old Mill Tasty Shop, Connie’s Mexico Cafe, Saigon and La Galette, who’s 25th anniversary I wrote about this week.

What’s your favorite family-owned, family-run restaurant in Wichita?

Answer in the comments section below.