Lotus Leaf losing crepes, adding chef

By March 20, Lotus Leaf Cafe & Creperie at  613 W. Douglas, will become just Lotus Leaf Cafe.

Owner Jacquelyn Keefer, who has been struggling for a while to find a way to make her restaurant fit her original vision, said she has hired a new chef — kitchen veteran Rebecca Gold — and will likely soon drop crepes from the restaurant’s menu and name.

When Lotus Leaf turned 1 in November, Keefer announced that she’d hired a new chef, Ya Ya’s and Uptown Bistro veteran Beau Franklin. But that partnership didn’t work out, Keefer said. She wanted to find a chef who would be on board with her vision of healthy food with natural ingredients, and she thinks she’s found it in Gold.

Rebecca Gold, back in her Uptown Bistro pastry chef days.

Gold, who has worked at Uptown Bistro, Cero’s and Chester’s Chophouse, starts on Monday.

“She has more of an idea of what I really wanted from the beginning,” Keefer said. “I’m tired of conforming to chefs’ ideas of what healthy options are.”

Keefer and Gold have agreed that crepes will no longer be a focus on the menu, though it’s possible that a crepe or two will be on the new menu that they’ll debut on March 20. It’ll feature more salads, more soups and more menu items made with ingredients such as quinoa and cous cous.

“I’m really looking forward to having a woman in the kitchen,” Keefer said.

Until then, the current menu will remain in place, she said, though Gold will likely add her own touches.

Buffet out, themed plates in at Crown Uptown

The newly reopened Crown Uptown Dinner Theater now has a new way of serving dinner to its patrons. The buffet concept is kaput, and theater-goers are being served meals that correspond with the show’s theme at their tables.

So far, the change is working well, said Shannon Parsons, the theater’s bar manager. “People are getting their food a lot faster,” she said. “It seems to be much better.”

The buffet concept wasn’t working, she said, because the line to get through it was always so long. Often, lines would stretch all the way around the building, and by the time people made it through and back to their seats, their food was cold. The change was instituted along with the theater’s current production of “Steel Magnolias.”

New chef Brian Mangers, whose resume includes The Candle Club and Uptown Bistro, is serving a “Steel Magnolias”-esque meal that includes blackened catfish, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, red beans and rice, collard greens, gumbo and salad. Servers still plate the food at the buffet then deliver it hot to the tables.

The theater’s next show is “The Wizard of Oz,” and Mangers is busy dreaming up a No Place Like Home menu right now.

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.

Restaurant comings and goings and etc.

Leave town for a week and the whole restaurant scene goes nuts. Carrie was very busy last week reporting all sorts of restaurant shenanigans. Here’s a quick roundup for you:

Uptown Bistro is closing on Saturday. This makes me sad because it was once made a killer steak frites, and the space is so pretty. Maybe something else fabulous will fill that space someday.

Burger Barn is for sale, as is evidenced by the sign posted in front of the restaurant. Owners have some family health problems to attend to.

Linkhaus is making some changes, the most notable of which is that it plans to move to a more affordable strip center location. In the meantime, it’s lowering prices starting on Saturday.

A new Little Caesars is coming to 35th and Woodlawn.

Everybody’s Family Restaurant, owned by Fat Ernie and Co., has just opened in the former Brownstone Grill space at 3105 E. Harry.

Whew. Now I’m hungry.

Palette to Palate post with pictures

On Saturday, I attended Palette to Palate, a new foodie fundraiser that was co-organized by my friend and colleague Bonnie Bing. It drew more than 200 people for a wine and food tasting and an art and wine auction at the Wichita Scottish Rite and raised a whole buncha money for KETCH.

Several interesting developments came out of the evening. One was that I finally got to meet Paul Freimuth, who recently replaced David Wirebaugh as the head chef at the Hyatt’s Harvest Kitchen/Bar. He brought some fabulous little bites of food, including a polenta crouton with shrimp and Cajun remoulade (I could have eaten the whole tray of those) and a duck canape with mango chow chow and roasted red pepper cream cheese.

Clearly, he’s a good cook, and I’m happy to see that Freimuth is going to make the same kind of effort Wirebaugh did to get involved in charity events.

Chef Paul Freimuth in polenta action.

I also spent some time talking to local restaurateur Melad Stephan, who provided over mini beef Wellingtons, hummus and more from his Uptown Bistro. He had some interesting things to say, which I hope I can elaborate on later this week.

Newport Grill had some great shrimp and eggrolls at the event, and Cero’s and Cocoa Dolce sent over lots of chocolate. The Corporate Hills Marriott sent over a massive ice scupture and put out a raw oyster bar that also included shrimp shooters (above.) And Monica of Monica’s Bundt Cakes provided a nicely decorated KETCH cake.

It also was fun to watch people bidding big money on expensive bottles of wine. Local wine expert Jamie Stratton was there, guiding people through the process.

The group hopes to make the Palette to Palate and annual event, so start saving your auction pennies now.

Melad and me.

KETCH president an CEO Ron Pasmore, Bonnie, Kathy Krumsick and her husband Herb Krumsick, who co-chaired the event with Bonnie.

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.

A chef’s secret, shared

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Crystal and Brian Mangers

I’ve never had a non-interesting experience at the Candle Club, and last night was no exception.

I was invited by my foodie friend Bill Pearce, who’s a member of the dimly-lit, throwback supper club at 6135 E 13th St N., to come try some of the  items new Chef Adam Courtney has added to the menu.

He’d also invited Uptown Bistro’s executive chef Brian Mangers, who brought his very fun wife Crystal. Crystal has an affinity for unusual foods, and at her request, our dinner included frog legs and a big, huge plate of chicken livers, which she enthusiastically drowned with Tabasco before gobbling down.

Then, Brian and Crystal shared an (I’m assuming) little-known food fact: The best chicken innards  in town, they say, are the fried chicken gizzards served at Jezebel’s, an “ahem” gentelman’s club at 4520 E. 47th St. south.

“I would shut my eyes and go to Jezebels just for the gizzards,” Brian said.

See? Never not interesting at the Candle Club.

Tequila!

Two restaurants are planning two interesting dinners in the next several days, and one is centered around one of nature’s most dangerous substances: Tequila.

On Tuesday, Yia Yia’s Eurobistro at 8115 E. 21st St. N. is putting on its first ever tequila dinner, featuring samplings of Jose Cuervo and Don Julio tequilas paired with a five-course dinner prepared by chef Dave Varner. Among the dishes he’s creating: A trio of shrimp shooters, a black bean encrusted tuna, and anejo-lacqured wild boar ribs. The dinner is $55 a person and starts at 6:30 p.m. For reservations, call 316-634-1000.

And Uptown Bistro at 301 N.Mead still has space for tomorrow’s Opera wine dinner, a four-course meal that will include seared sea scallops, braised short ribs and four unique wines. It’s $50 a person, plus tax and a 20 percent gratuity, and it starts at 6:30 p.m. For reservations, call 316-262-3232 as soon as possible.

@Gettingveryhungry

anchortwitter

Lots of local restaurants have Twitter accounts. The Eagle, in fact, tries to maintain a Twitter list of them as we find them.

Some perform better than others, in my opinion. The person behind the tweets for Empire restaurants, including Sabor, Uptown Bistro and Oeno, is usually pretty entertaining and offers news on wine dinners, menu changes and the occasional goofy quote. There are also restaurants who join Twitter, tweet a few times, then disappear.

One of my favorite restaurant Tweeters writes the post for The Anchor, and everyday at about 11 a.m., he or she provides a description of the specials of the day, which always make me very, very, very, very hungry. (See above example.)

What other restaurants offer appetizing Tweets?