Wichita bars, restaurants share summer cocktail recipes

For our Perfect Summer section, I was assigned to try and persuade a few local bars and restaurants to share recipes for favorite summer cocktails. That was an assignment I happily accepted.

Melad Stephan, who owns Sabor, Caffe Moderne and Oeno in Old Town Square, gave me the secret to Sabor’s sangria and mango mojito.

Emma Russell at Mort’s shared the recipe for a Golden Mean martini.

And Brooke Russell at Public at the Brickyard not only shared two drink recipes, including one for a very delicious concoction called Gordon’s Cup, but she also agreed to star in a how-to video, which you will see above. I sampled the Gordon’s Cup, and it was refreshing, potent and completely summer-rific.

You can find all those recipes here.

If you burn through this list of cocktails, you could move on to the list of cocktail recipes I got last summer, including one from Taste & See, the Monarch and Heroes.

Brunch for a cause on Sunday at Sabor

10173769_10152160511074565_1554355234615479451_nIt’s that time of year when Wichitans determined to win the title of Man of the Year or Woman of the Year for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are out raising money.

You’ll notice fundraisers all over town, and several involve food.

One is being put on this Sunday as part of Naomi Arnold’s bid for the title. It’s a brunch at Sabor, 309 N. Mead, that will last from 1:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Usually, Sabor offers brunches only during holidays.)

For $20 a plate, brunchers will get eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, pastries, smoked salmon, fresh fruits, etc.

All proceeds will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

For more information, call 316-201-4880.

Melad Stephan buys Caffe Moderne, puts Hopping Pita on hold

The Hopping Pita is closed for now. Future: Uncertain.

Melad Stephan’s Empire Restaurant Management group is in flux at the moment as he tries to prioritize the needs at his various businesses, he said.

About 10 days ago, he said, he finalized a deal to completely buy out Janet and Grant Rine, the founders of Caffe Moderne at 300 N. Mead. Stephan partnered with them in June of 2011 and has been running the restaurant ever since. Now that it’s all his, he’s going to start using its kitchen for his Empire catering business and stop using the one at Revolution Rock Bar.

Another change: He’s put the Hopping Pita, a food truck he started with chef Roni Attari in April, on hold. He wants a bigger, more efficient truck, he said, and he’s put his original truck on Craigslist, asking for $20,000 or the best offer he can get.

He’s also not sure if Attari is still planning to work for him. The chef was interviewing for another job, he said, and he hasn’t heard what the outcome was. (I’ve left two messages for Attari but haven’t heard back.)

Stephan says he plans to reopen the Hopping Pita eventually but that it’s not at the top of his priority list right now.

“I’m so busy, I don’t know which direction I’m going these days,” he said.

As for Caffe Moderne, Stephan said he plans to keep the name and the concept the same. He may eventually get a new sign and plans to add new menu items for fall.

Stephan also owns Sabor and Oeno Wine Bar in Old Town Square. He closed his fine dining Italian restaurant, Luca Italian Kitchen, in August.

Stay tuned for updates on the fate of The Hopping Pita.

Take mom out for Mother’s Day

Larkspur offers a brunch buffet only on Mother's Day each year.

I’ve rounded up my annual list of restaurants putting on special meals for moms on Sunday.

It has the usual list of hotel buffets and restaurants offering all manners of brunchy overindulgence.

I wrote the story when I was hungry, and I was most intrigued by the special Mother’s Day menus being offered at Bella Vita Bistro, which is offering dishes such as an andouille-stuffed pork loin and prosciutto and basil-wrapped chicken breast, and by the special brunch menu Sabor is serving up. Biscuits and chorizo gravy? Yes and yum.

Diners also will want to pay attention to the fact that Larkspur is offering a Mother’s Day buffet. This is the only time of year they join the holiday buffet foray.

Peruse my list and make your Mother’s Day reservations pronto.

Three great restaurant deals on Dealsaver

You might most definitely will want to check out the specials that just launched on the Wichita Eagle’s Dealsaver today.

You’ll find three discount coupons that can be used after the first of the year at Melad Stephan’s Old Town restaurants — Sabor, Luca and Oeno.

Ole!

Just follow this link, and for $10 you can purchase a gift certificate good for $20 at each of the three restaurants.

They’d make good gifts — or just buy them for yourself. Who doesn’t want to look forward to a fish-taco filled New Year?

Lotus Leaf turns 1, hires new chef

Lotus Leaf, the little creperie and healthy eating spot at 613 W. Douglas in Delano, turned 1 on Nov. 22. Around that same time, owner Jacquelyn Keefer hired a new executive chef. James Butler is gone, and in his place is Beau Franklin, a veteran of several Wichita kitchens, including Ya Ya’s, Oeno, Uptown Bistro and Sabor.

The two are working on additions to the menu, which is now a mix of crepes, salads and sandwiches. Within the next two weeks, they plan to add several dishes, including a Thai peanut curry bowl, a spicy turkey meatball crepe and a veggie burger on a vegan bun.

They’re also working on a little first birthday party. It’ll be staged from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday to coincide with the Christmas in Delano event, which will include a 5 p.m. clocktower lighting. During that time, Lotus Leaf will serve free carrot cake and appetizers to those who stop in.

For more information, call 316-295-4133.

Nine restaurants shared recipes for “official” Wichita cookbook

If you’ve lived in Wichita for very long, you’ve either sampled or cooked a recipe from the Junior League’s popular and well-circulated 1995 cookbook, “Women of Great Taste. It has a picture of the Mona Lisa spearing a tomato with a fork on the cover and many very good recipes inside.

Now, the Junior League has a new cookbook out. It’s called “Pinches & Dashes: Recipes & Life Measures” and includes recipes for everything from special-occasion dinners to fast weeknight meals.

The formerly most popular Wichita cookbook

It also includes recipes provided by nine local restaurants: Caffe Moderne, Chester’s Chophouse, Freddy’s Frozen Custard, Newport Grill, Luca Italian Kitchen, River City Brewery, Sabor, Watermark Books & Café and YaYa’s EuroBistro.

The book is $28.95 and is available at places such as Watermark Books and The Plaid Giraffe or online at jlwichita.org. Proceeds will go toward organizations that combat child abuse.

And get this — Mayor Carl Brewer has named the book the official cookbook of Wichita. This is a relief to me because I have always wondered what our city’s official cookbook was.

New restaurant, new patio, new owner

Luca Italian Kitchen in Old Town Square should be open in about 15 days.

There’s all kinds of news in Melad Stephan’s dining world

Stephan, who owns Oeno and Sabor and the soon-to-open Luca Italian Kitchen in Old Town Square, plus Press out east at the Waterfront at 13th and Webb, recently sold one of his restaurants — Egg Cetera, the breakfast restaurant at 242 N. Mosley that he’s owned since June of 2005. (I’m working on getting information on the new owner. So far, all I know is that his name is Manuel.)

“I just need to not worry at 6 o’ clock in the morning,” Stephan said of his desire to sell the breakfast and lunch restaurant. “I have enough worries from 9 to 2.”

I drove past Luca today, and it’s coming along nicely. Stephan says he hopes to have it open by June 14 or 15. When I visited, workers were painting shelves, and when I peeked inside, I could see that Stephan is reconfiguring the space to make it look different from its former incarnation as Uptown Bistro. The menu is coming together, created by Gianluca Sciagata, the restaurant’s new Italian chef, who moved here from Aspen, Colo. Stephan says he’s most excited about tasting the chef’s homemade mozzarella and homemade pastas.

Sabor's pretty new patio, which faces Old Town Square.

Also, Stephan finally has his patio at Sabor opened, with seating for about 25. It’s a very pretty little patio, and Stephan says he has approval to put one on the front side of Luca as well. He also has obtained approval to expand his Oeno patio all the way back past the side of his new banquet room, and once he prices fencing, he’ll get started on that project.

Once Stephan sends me the Luca menu, I’ll share more details.

Question of the week: Best Cuban sandwich

Cuban sandwiches very likely may be my very favorite sandwiches. When they’re done right, they’re served on crusty bread with roasted pork, ham, yellow mustard, sliced pickles and melty Swiss cheese. Yummmmmmmmmmmm.

Lately, Cubans are getting more popular in Wichita. Sabor, Granite City, Metro Grill have had versions for a while, and when Tanya’s Soup Kitchen introduced its new menu, a Cuban was on it. This week, I stopped by Planet Sub and sampled the very delicious Cuban sandwich they’re perfecting before adding it to the menu.

In your opinion, who has Wichita’s best Cuban sandwich? What makes it so good?

Pitts out at Press; Harvest has new chef

Chef Douglas Pitts, whose resume includes a long list of Wichita restaurants, has left his job at Press at 1720 N. Webb Road.

Pitts opened the restaurant and cocktail lounge with Oeno/Uptown Bistro/Sabor owner Melad Stephan in November. He notified me today that he’d left Press but didn’t want to elaborate.

I’ve got a call into Stephan, so I’ll report what I find out about his search for a new chef.

Freimuth

Speaking of the Chef Shuffle, popular local chef David Wirebaugh, who was always good for a local cookoff, has left Wichita’s Harvest Kitchen/Bar in the Hyatt to open a new restaurant called Q Restaurant at the Hyatt in San Antonio.

His replacement is new executive chef Paul Freimuth, who previously worked as the executive sous chef at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center in Kansas City.