All kinds of adult beverage opportunities

Thanksgiving and Christmas are approaching. It’s time to prepare our palates — and our livers — with a little wine and spirits tasting.

Here are a few events coming up during the next couple of weeks:

The Wines of Fall: This event, put on by The Wichita Chapter of The American Institute of Wine & Food, is from 6:30 to 8:3o p.m. Thursday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Wichita Airport. It’s $35 a person and will offer a preview of 30 popular seasonal wines paired with gourmet food. Experts also will be there sharing entertaining tips and more. Non-members can attend. Call 316-682-5502 for information or to make credit card reservations. For more information, visit www.aiwfwichita.org.

Oeno’s Sagittarius Zodiac wine dinner: This dinner features three courses, each one paired with wine, and costs $35 a person. It’s at 7 p.m. on Nov. 30. For reservations, call 316-440-5000.

Mike’s Wine Dive wine dinner: This one has four courses and four wines and is at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Mike’s Wine Dive, 4714 E. Douglas. For reservations and to see the menu, visit mikeswinedive.com 

Bourbon and Bites at Chapada: This restaurant at 2142 N. Tyler is having a bourbon dinner, pairing five bourbons with five courses. It starts at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and is $45 a person. For reservations, call 316-201-4694.

Even more options for Sunday brunch

I have a complicated relationship with Sunday brunch.

I love it. Really love it. But it’s difficult for me to stop eating, especially when I have access to an amazing buffet. I am no longer allowed anywhere NEAR Granite City’s eggs Benedict station. (Self-imposed banishment.)

Three restaurants in Wichita have recently added or are about to add Sunday brunches, which will make my weekends even more complicated.

Among them:

1. Twelve Restaurant & Bar, 12111 W. Maple, 316-440-2812: The new restaurant recently launched a buffet-style Sunday brunch that features items such as salads, fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, beef and chicken entrees, made-to-order French toast, peel-and-eat shrimp, pastries and more. It’s served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays and costs $15.95 for adults and $6.95 for children 12 and under. It’s free for children 4 and under.

2. Mike’s Wine Dive, 4714 E. Douglas, 316-613-2772: Mike’s has been serving its Sunday brunch for several months. It features a la carte dishes such as French toast waffles served with three slices of bacon and two eggs for $9 and a lobster potato hash made with sliced onions, asparagus, and lobster that’s served with two poached eggs and topped with hollandaise for $12. It also offers a Bloody Mary bar. The brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays.

3. Taste & See Global Cuisine, 255 N. Washington: Chef Jason Febres, who is very close to opening his Taste & See Global Cuisine at 255 N. Washington, will offer a Sunday brunch at the new restaurant. The first one will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 3. It’ll be an upscale buffet brunch, he said, and it will feature some expected breakfast items but also will have Spanish tapas. He’s still deciding what he’ll charge.

The Hill Bar & Grill has wine on tap

I’ve been to The Hill Bar & Grill, the new restaurant at 4800 E. Douglas opened by Mike”s Wine Dive owners, brothers Brad and Brent Steven, a couple of times — and I like it. I particularly like the restaurant’s wedge salad, which is topped with some of best bacon and dressing I’ve ever had.

And the restaurant recently added something I also like — wine on tap. The Hill serves two wines, both a red and a white, from a tap system, sort of like beer. It’s not carbonated, but the wine comes is dispensed from a keg like beer is, meaning that each glass is fresh and hasn’t been exposed to air at all. (They also serve a couple of wines from bottles.)

Wine from a tap is new for Wichita. It’s popular on the west coast, but only The Hill and Chester’s Chophouse do it locally. It’s expensive to set the system up, Brad said, and it also takes up a lot of prime bar real estate. But it’s worth it on many levels, he said, including that it’s more earth friendly because there’s no bottle or container waste.

So far, Brad said, his customers are loving the wine, which costs $7 a glass. The white is a Riesling/Chardonnay blend, and the red is a Merlot/Cabernet/Shiraz blend.

“I love it so much, I wish I could set it up in my house,” he said.

The Hill is open from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Lots of wine events coming up for Wichita

This weekend is the Midwest Beerfest, but wine lovers have lots of options too.

Following are a few wine events scheduled at various venues in the area.

Hangar One Steakhouse Wine Flight Dinner: Radio personalities Brett Harris and Anita Cochran will be among the guests at this dinner, scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday. It’ll feature four courses, each one paired with wine. The main course is beef Wellington with grilled asparagus and potato souffle. The cost is $39.99 a person, and RSVPs are required at 316-941-4900.

Grace Hill Winery’s Fall Release Party: The winery at 6310 S. Grace Hill Road in Whitewater will premiere several wines, some reformulated and some brand new, at its release party from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Friday. The winery will also be serving buffalo meatballs, sweet potato hummus, turkey/cheese wraps, quinoa salad and chocolate balls. Admission is $20 a person, and RSVPs are required at 316-799-2511.

Mike’s Wine Dive Wine & Cheese Pairing: This event, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 24, will feature five wines paired with five high-end cheeses. Admission is $30 a person, and credit card reservation are required at mikeswinedive.com.

Bordeaux Wine Tasting at aVenue Banquet Hall: This wine tasting, put on by Auburn Spirits, is at 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at 13303 W. Maple and will feature seven Bordeaux wines plus snacks  plus a Riedel wine glass to keep.  Admission is $35 a person. Reservations are required by calling 316-440-1111.

The Hill Bar & Grill will open on Aug. 12

The last we heard from The Hill Bar & Grill, the new restaurant going into the former Barrier’s space was set to be open by Monday, July 29.

But typical construction delays have pushed it back a bit, and now Brent Steven — who is opening the restaurant at 4800 E. Douglas with his brother, Brad — says that it will open for sure on Aug. 12.

The brothers, who also own nearby Mike’s Wine Dive, are busily putting the finishing touches on the restaurant, which they describe as an ale house that that focuses on craft beer and American fare.

Earlier today, Brent shared a sneak peek at the menu, which will include dishes such as house made pork rinds, spiced fried chickpeas, house-made pretzels with beer cheese sauce, sliders, street tacos and a variety of steaks. It’ll also offer banana pudding made with vanilla wafers and baked Alaska done three ways.  All the food will be fresh and made from scratch, he said.

The bar going in at The Hill Bar & Grill.

He’s happy with how the construction is progressing, he said, and he’s encouraged by the impatience of neighbors of the restaurant for it to open already.

“It’s going to be really nice,” he said. “We are so ready.”

The Hill’s hours will be 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Truffle fries are the new sweet potato fries

See up there? In the upper right-hand corner? Those are The Flying Stove's truffle fries, and they're fabulous.

I think I have a problem.

I can’t stop eating truffle fries. I had them THREE TIMES this weekend without even meaning to. This can’t be good.

For a while in Wichita, sweet potato fries were all the rage. Everyone was making them, from bars to fast-food restaurants. They’re still a thing, as evidenced by Sonic’s new sweet potato tots.

In Wichita, truffle fries are the new trend.

I had them Friday at lunch at AVI.  I had them Friday night, where they were among the many fabulous things being served by The Flying Stove at Botanica’s Blooms, Brews & Bloody Marys.  And I had them again Saturday night in the Hyatt’s bar. Mike’s Wine Dive has them, too, only theirs are SWEET POTATO TRUFFLE FRIES, a heart-stopping mash-up of French fry trends.

Truffle fries become truffle fries when they’re tossed in truffle oil, an incredibly aromatic ingredient that’s hard to mistake. The smell and taste both are earthy, almost mushroomy. Nothing is worse than a dish doused in too much truffle oil. Nothing is better than a dish doused in just the right amount of truffle oil.

Anybody know of any other local restaurants with truffle fries? It’s been more than 36 hours since I last had some, and I need a fix.

Two beer dinners and a wine dinner

Three more chances to sample beer, wine and food for one price are approaching over the next couple of weeks.

On Thursday, Mike’s Wine Dive at 4714 E. Douglas is putting on a “Luck of the Irish” Bushmills Irish whiskey and beer tasting. It will start at 7 p.m. and will feature Irish hors d’oeuvres plus samples of several Bushmills whiskeys plus beers such as Smithwicks, Harp and Guinness. Admission is $30 a person, and reservations are required by calling 316-613-2772.

On Sunday, Bocconcini Italian Eatery at 4811 E. Central is offering a wine dinner that features five courses paired with five wines. The main entree course is a porcini rubbed filet with grilled asparagus and risotto, paired with an Allegrini Palazzo Delle Torre. It starts at 6 p.m. and is $65 a person. For reservations, call 316-613-2523.

Then, on March 27, Ya Ya’s at 8115 E. 21st St. is having a “Be Green” Anderson Valley beer dinner. The restaurant will offer five courses, each paired with an Anderson Valley beer. It’s $60 a person, and reservations can be made by calling 316-634-1000.

Pour Haus, Joe’s Old Town Bar & Grill open next week

Two new watering holes are set to open in Wichita next week, and both will have versions of the Jucy Lucy on the menu.

The first is Pour Haus Restaurant & Tavern at 1021 W. Maple. It’ll open on Monday, featuring 31 beers on tap and 50 more by the bottle, plus wine and cocktails made with beer. The menu looks pretty interesting, and almost all of the dishes somehow include beer, wine or other alcohol as an ingredient. I’m enticed by the beer-battered fish and chips, the beer and cheese soup, the beer flavored cupcakes, and of course the “Lucy’s Other Brother,” a burger stuffed with cheese, bacon and  jalapenos. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.

I stopped in Pour Haus last week, where I found manager Patrick Shibley (one of the original Gaslamp Grille & Lounge partners) busily working on the menu. I was impressed with the interior, which has been extensively remodeled since the last time a business operated there and is very clean and inviting. I’m sort of excited that I live nearby.

Joe’s Old Town Bar & Grill also is set to open next week at 222 N. Washington, though managers aren’t sure exactly what day. They’re waiting for inspections to be completed and could get the doors open as early as Monday or as late as March 17. 

Joe’s is owned by Charlie Badeen and David Allan, the men behind Dudley’s at 8550 W. 21st. St. Joe’s general manager and executive chef is Brad Beyer, who was in charge of Mike’s Wine Dive when it first opened.

The menu will feature several bar favorites, but Beyer said he’s going to add several unexpected dishes to the menu, including shrimp ceviche, a Philly cheese steak egg roll, a fried egg sandwich, and a Juicy Lucy. It’ll offer prime rib nightly after 4 p.m. and daily blue plate lunch specials for $6.99. Joe’s also will have a big patio facing Washington. Reach Joe’s at 316-303-9885.

Question of the week: Best sweet potato fries

This week’s question on the Dining with Denise newsletter is from a reader named Paula, who asks which local restaurants serve good sweet potato fries.

An increasingly trendy side item, sweet potato fries are available at many local restaurants, including early adopter The Anchor.

But which Wichita restaurant serves your favorite sweet potato fries? I’ve always liked The Anchor’s, and the ones served at Mike’s Wine Dive are deliciously drizzled with truffle oil.

What do you think? Answer in the comments section below.

Good eats at Winefest

I love Winefest. I love it so much. Look how much fun I had there last year with my friends Kim and Jill. We ate at least a pound of sushi-style ahi tuna, learned that we love SeaGlass Sauvignon Blanc,  hobnobbed with Guy Bower and Brett Harris, and went out to Chester’s for Tumbleweeds when it was all over. Ahhhh. Good times.

This year, I can’t go because I’m otherwise engaged, and I’m very unhappy about missing it. This is one fun event.

You can read my story about the Grand Tasting online tomorrow and in the Go! section on Friday, but in the meantime, I have a list of all the restaurants that will be at Saturday night’s Grand Tasting and what delicious bites they’ll be serving. Organizers secured 14 restaurants this year, including a few new ones — Newport Grill and Gaslamp Grille among them.

Tell me how it is if you go. Sniff. Sniff sniff.

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