Eat blizzards, meet beauties, help babies

What could be better than an excuse to eat a Blizzard?

It’s that time of year when you can eat, eat and eat some more and justify the calories because after all, you’re helping the children.

The Children’s Miracle Network at Via Christi Health has two food-related fundraisers coming right up. The first one is called Miracle Treat Day and will be on  on Aug. 8. All day, local Dairy Queen stores will donate proceeds from every Blizzard sold to the cause. I’ll take cookie dough, thank you.

The next day, Aug. 9, Redrock Canyon Grill at 1844 N. Rock Road will be the site of a fundraiser that will allow attendees to meet Theresa Vail, who is Miss Leavenworth County 2013. From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the restaurant will serve a free lunch buffet in exchange for a donation to the CMN Hospitals and Miss Kansas organizations. Vail also will sign autographs and pose for photos.

CMN Hospitals help more than 46,000 children in south-central and western Kansas and helps families cover medical costs not covered by their insurance.

Question of the week: Best bite of chocolate?

I’m still swooning from my Death by Chocolate experience, which has inspired this week’s question: What’s your favorite bite of chocolate in Wichita?

One of mine comes from Cocoa Dolce, who makes these amazing little dark chocolate champagne balls, coated on the outside with just the right amount of crunchy sugar. I also love the dessert called “Something Chocolate” at Redrock Canyon Grill. It features a square brownie stuffed with a square hunk of ice cream, all drowning in hot fudge.

Where does your must-have chocolate come from in Wichita? Answer in the comments section below.

Question of the week: Wichita’s best meatloaf?

Redrock Canyon Grill's yummy Persimmon Hill Meatloaf.

As I prepare my stomach for Saturday’s Loaf Off, a meatloaf cooking competition I’ll help judge, I can’t get meatloaf off my mind.

It’s a divisive dish. Some people love it. The rest of them loathe it. I fall into the “love it” category.

Serving meatloaf in restaurants has become a bit of a trendy thing over the past decade or so. One of my favorites in town is the sorta spicy Persimmon Hill meatloaf served at Redrock Canyon Grill, 1844 N. Rock Road. Oh, my, it’s yummy.

Granite City has a good one, too, and several local diner-y places often have it as a blue plate special.

This week’s question: Which local restaurant serves your favorite meatloaf? 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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Pass the salt (salt, salt salt salt)

I’m not sure how this escaped my attention until just now, but people, IT’S NATIONAL MARGARITA DAY!!!

Obviously, my inner Buffett sensed last night that it was Margarita Day Eve because I made a batch of these babies, and man oh man, were they good to the last drop.

If you don’t have any tequila on hand, though, plenty of Wichita restaurants serve up fabulous margaritas. One of the best is the aptly named “Perfect Margarita” at Redrock Canyon Grill. And I’ve always been partial to those swirls at On the Border.

Carlos O’ Kelly’s also plans to join in the fiesta, according to Twitter.

Restaurants that start with ‘R’

River City Brewing Co.

A reader named Cathy wrote to let me know that she and her girlfriends had embarked upon one of my favorite type of dining adventures: Dining through the alphabet.

They’d arrived at “R” and were stuck. They asked me to suggest a “nice restaurant that serves alcohol.” And starts with ‘R’.

Here are a few of my ideas. Anyone else??

Redrock Canyon Grill, 1844 N. Rock Road: I do love Redrock, a restaurant with nice, dim lighting, plush furnishings and American food that’s approachaable and simple in a gourmet way. And do they ever serve alcohol. Try their “Perfect Margarita.”

Red Beans’ Bayou Grill, 7447 W. 21st St. N. One of Wichita’s oldest Cajun restaurants is still hagning on, serving dishes such as fried pickles, gumbo, jambalaya and more. There’s also a full bar. Hurricanes for all!!

River City Brewing Co.: The downtown brew pub has recently undergone a remodeling and added a few beers to the tap. People love their pizzas and their mac-and-cheese. But they have more high-falutin’ fare, too

Redrock and Miss Kansas

redrockRedrock Canyon Grill never serves lunch on a weekday, and it never serves free lunch.

But on Thursday, the restaurant at 1844 N. Rock Road is putting on a lunch buffet to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.

From noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Redrock is asking those who come for lunch to make a donation to the charity. Miss Kansas Lauren Werhan will be there, posing for pictures and signing autographs.laurenwerhan5

Money raised also benefits the Miss America scholarship fund. Call 316-636-1844 for more information.

Patio dining in Wichita

Larkspur's dreamy patio. Look! There in the background! It's The Eagle!

Larkspur's dreamy patio. Look! There in the background! It's The Eagle!

One of the things I most love to do when the weather’s even in the vicinity of decent is to sit on one of Wichita’s gorgeous restaurant patios and enjoy a glass of wine and a plate of deliciousness.

Sadly, Wichita’s not much of a sidewalk cafe town, but the patios we do have are very nice. Since this weekend promises reasonable temps, I thought I’d share my nominations for Wichita’s most fabulous outdoor dining spaces. Add yours below if you think I missed one.

1. Chester’s Chophouse, 1550 N. Webb Road: The covered patio at this upscale steakhouse is something to behold: Secluded seating, gorgeous stone accents, comfortable tables, a glowing fireplace in the corner and a view of a pond — and an office building. But it’s still a great place to wine and dine.

2. Yia Yia’s Eurobistro, 8115 E 21st Street North: The landscaping is gorgeous at this Bradley Fair restaurant, and the patio — filled with pumped in jazz or sometimes live music — has a special feel.

3. Larkspur, 904 E. Douglas: Larkspur’s patio is fun because it offers prime Old Town people watching — and it’s right across the street from the Wichita Eagle. In the spring, it has gorgeous wisteria dropping from the lattice covering, and it offers a nice mix of short and tall tables.

4. Redrock Canyon Grill, 1844 North Rock Road: The cozy, covered patio at Redrock is tucked into the side of the restaurant, and despite its parking lot views, it’s beautiful and comfortable. A highlight is the glowing fire pit that separates it from the front of the restaurant.

5. Pho Hot Bistro, 306 N. Rock Road: Owner Danny Nguyen serves upscale Vietnamese food out of his restaurant, which offers a pretty patio complete with gorgeous plantings and built-in misters.