Archive | June, 2011

The Donut Whole-Wichita KS

30 Jun

If there is one thing Americans love it is donuts. In fact donuts even have their own day on the second of June each year. The great thing about donuts is the variety of flavors you can get them in. And no one knows variety like the Donut Whole on east Douglas. I had the chance to try out the Donut Whole last Friday after attending a riveting performance of “The Ugly Duckling” with my mom and three year old niece.

The Donut Whole is part donut store, part coffeehouse, but also includes a small art gallery and stage. The art changes each month with Final Friday and they have different bands perform on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. This is not your typical donut shop and in turn they do not serve your typical donuts.  According to their website, all of their donuts are made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients. I guarantee that Krispy Kreme cannot claim this, in fact their batter is made in North Carolina. The Donut Whole also offers over twenty-five varieties of cake donuts each day. Phil and I have visited the Donut Whole once or twice before but we seem to hit it after a large crowd and several types of donuts are missing. This time though I hit the jackpot.

I was able to try the cherry cordial which is a chocolate donut with a chocolate and cherry icing. It was dang tasty. My niece ordered the Homer J. She is an avid fan of the Simpsons. Actually she probably went after it since it was pink with sprinkles. I was able to steal of a bite of hers (got yelled at for it) and kind of liked it better than mine. The icing had a strawberry taste to it. My mom ordered the Rainbow which had chocolate icing with sprinkles. She enjoyed it immensely. The crowning achievement of this visit however, was the chance we had to finally try one of their famous Maple Bacon donuts. These guys are topped with maple icing and bits of bacon. Phil was quite pleased to find one at home waiting for him. That donut is freaking fantastic people! A little bit of savory with a lot of sweet, and it completely works. The bacon is not overwhelming and the whole thing just feels like Easter morning breakfast as a kid.

I know it maybe difficult to give up the overly sweet and stomach churning Krispy Kreme (not to mention they have several more stores), but let’s not only support a local restaurant but one that only buys local ingredients. This is pretty rare even for chain free. And just a FYI: drive-thru is open 24 hours a day.

http://www.thedonutwhole.com/

<a href="http://The Donut Whole on Urbanspoon“>

And The Wiener Is – Wichita KS (CLOSED)

24 Jun

In honor of Congressman Wiener’s recent troubles we hit up a place that he would have loved to tweet about. And the Wiener Is has had a tumultuous few years on the Wichita restaurant scene. They have changed their name and location several times and currently reside on the northwest corner of Douglas and Grove. The Wiener has a simple concept, serve lots of hot dogs. 47 varieties to be exact, although a few were not available on the day we visited, thus we were left with only 44 some odd dogs to choose from.

The restaurant is trendy and cozy with about 10 tables in the place and some nice wiener inspired art on the walls. All the hot dogs are listed on a wall next to the counter where you place your order. I would recommend taking your time to read through all the offerings to find the perfect dog for your mood that day. Whether you want Italian or Mexican food they can accommodate your cravings. One highlight of the menu is the PB and J dog. Perhaps after a night in Old Town that might be a delicious combination, but not at 3pm on a Wednesday, so I passed that bad boy up. I eventually decided on the Cob Dog which was modeled off of a Cobb salad with lettuce, tomato, bacon, and blue cheese dressing. Steph went with the Tater Dog which contained bits of potato, cheese, green onions, and sour cream. The Wiener offers several sides including chips, mac’n’cheese, fries, and cole slaw as well as throwback RC Cola. I went with the mac’n’cheese and Steph tried the slaw out.

After settling in at our comic book surfaced table our food was quickly delivered to us. The different flavor profiles of my dog  worked well together. It was basically a salad stacked on top of a hot dog and stuffed into a bun. Speaking of buns, The Wiener Is does not use your typically store bought buns. Their buns are light, flaky, and slightly toasted. As for their wieners, they use a nice plump version that has plenty of flavor. My mac’n’cheese was as it should be, cheesy and creamy. Steph’s wiener was masterpiece of flavors and visual appeal. On top of the dog were cubed fried potatoes, cheese, sour cream, and green onions. It was great on so many levels. One word of caution with these hot dogs is do not attempt to eat them with your hands. These guys are large, overstuffed, and messy. Do yourself a favor and grab a knife and fork. It will save you from unnecessary spills, burns, and general embarrassment.

And the Wiener Is does a good job at being a specialty hot dog establishment. Their side dishes are nothing to get excited about, so I would suggest ordering two varieties or doing the double dog. The Wiener is a good option for a late night meal, a quick lunch stop, or any time you are in the mood for an exotic hot dog.

<a href="http://And the Wiener Is... on Urbanspoon“>

Gaslamp Grille and Lounge- Wichita KS (CLOSED)

14 Jun

4/27/12 After months of rumors Gaslamp Grille has closed. A sad end to what was initially a great fine dining restuarant.

NOTE: Much to my dismay, Gaslamp has dramatically changed its menu around and no longer offers some of the more upscale options we mention in the following review.

Words to live by: A special celebration deserves a special restaurant. For Steph’s birthday we decided to splurge a bit and go to one of Wichita’s fine dining establishments. We picked the Gaslamp Grille because it is relatively new and we had not heard much about it. Gaslamp is located in the old Shadow Lounge at Rock and Central. The owners did a considerable amount of remodeling to transform the space into a classy, upscale place. As you walk into the lounge area you are met by a large wrap around bar with a giant fish tank in the middle. The main dining room is spacious and there appeared to be a second level as well as outdoor seating. All in all a big place.

I had glanced at the menu several times online and was rather intrigued with what I saw.  Luckily the menu we were handed was not very far from the online version. Although it was small, it packed a culinary punch that is not seen too often in Wichita. We recently traveled to France and fell in love with the cuisine there. Gaslamp is the best place we have found locally that offers some French influenced dishes. For appetizers they offer escargot, fondue, and pork belly. Main dishes include salmon confit and braised duck breast. We were intrigued by the pork belly with port cherry sorbet and decided to go with it as our appetizer. When it was served there was some alarm on our part because our piece of pork belly was about 1 x1 inch. Rather small for two people. It was delicious though as was the sorbet that accompanied it, if we could have had a bit more pork belly it would have been perfect.  All menu items are served a la carte so we hoped that the portion sizes would better than what we had just had as an appetizer. We were both drawn to the braised duck breast, since both of us had wonderful duck in Paris and have been looking for some local place that serves it. Since Steph was the birthday girl I let her order it and I went with the apple bourbon pork chop(surprise surprise I ordered pork). I took a calculated risk ordering the pork chop because I knew that things could go terribly wrong, but I had faith that the Gaslamp would know how to cook pork.

When our food was served I was delighted to see that it was a pork rib chop, which is the Cadillac of pork chops because it contains a nice 2 inch thick center-cut pork loin as well as a back rib.  I anxiously cut into the chop to find out what we were dealing with and sure enough it was cooked just right. I would say the internal temp was about 145 degrees which is how you should serve a nice cut of pork. The mushroom pan sauce was great with the pork as were the potatoes au gratin. All in all this was one of the best pork chops I have ever had. Steph’s duck breast was delicious as well, although not on the same level as those severed in Paris. The fruit gnocchi and poached pear were a great accompaniment to the duck. We were both pleased to see that our entrees were of decent portion size. For dessert that night they were offering a goat cheese cheesecake, their signature Gran Marnier pot du creme, and mint chocolate dipped bacon. The fact that they offered chocolate bacon made me want to cry sweet, bacony tears of joy. Steph had her heart set on the cheesecake and unfortunately they had just sold out of it so we decided to pass on dessert at the Gaslamp. One last note about the Gaslamp is the fact that they dry age their rib-eye steaks in-house, which is very impressive. You can either order the 28 or 55 day aged steak. Next time I am going to hit that up.

It is safe to say that the Gaslamp has quickly become our favorite fine dining destination in Wichita. They have the perfect combination of unique, masterfully prepared food, ambiance, and top-notch service that one would expect to find at an upscale restaurant. Make no mistake you will pay a premium for your meal, but you will have the opportunity to enjoy food in a way that you have probably never experienced in Wichita.

On a side note, if anyone knows of a place in Wichita to get a good duck breast I would like to know.

<a href=”http://Gaslamp Grille & Lounge on Urbanspoon“>

Tanya’s Soup Kitchen – Wichita KS

4 Jun

In case you missed the biggest news in the Wichita dining scene since Spangles started selling “Wok n Roll Bowls” Tanya Tandoc re-opened her famous restaurant two months ago. Tanya has been a chef in Wichita for quite a while and her restaurant Tanya’s Soup Kitchen was a very popular place until it closed about 7 years ago. I never had a chance to visit the original place, but luckily she decided to give the Soup Kitchen another go and opened it up in April. The new location is at Douglas and Hydraulic right across the street from the Donut Whole(Another delightful place to check out).

As you walk into the Soup Kitchen you are met with a great open floor plan, large windows make up two sides of the restaurant, and a trendy design scheme. The whole space feels very warm and welcoming. The most unique design characteristic is the front counter whose facade is made up of vintage weathered doors and their knobs. The menu is very similar to the old place with a few salads, soup of course, several sandwiches, and a couple of desserts. The soup menu changes daily with 3 or 4 varieties offered. The restaurant was rather crowded when we visited a few days ago, which did not surprise me due to its popularity. The staff is very efficient and friendly though so we only had to wait a few minutes in line to order. I decided to try the “Junie” sandwich which is Tanya’s take on the Cuban sandwich. When you have roasted pork and ham on the same sandwich typically you can’t go wrong. For my side I went with the chicken curry soup with chutney. Steph tried the chicken salad sandwich with a side of tomato dill soup. We had heard through the grapevine that Tanya’s bread pudding was wonderful so we also ordered a piece of that.  Despite the crowd we only waited maybe 10 minutes for our lunch. As expected it was all delightful. The best part of my sandwich was the pepper and pickle infused mustard that was spread over the ham and roast pork. My soup was excellent. The curry gave it a good kick and the chutney provided the right amount of sweetness. Had it been about 50 degree cooler outside I could have probably eaten a giant bowl of this stuff. Steph’s chicken salad sandwich was equally impressive. The cherries and rye bread really set it apart from your typical chicken salad. The tomato dill soup was great as well. If you are a fan of tomato soup go try Tanya’s then sample Panera’s. Chances are you will never want to eat at Panera again. The crowning achievement of the Soup Kitchen was the bread pudding. After finishing  our sandwiches we were told the bread pudding would be just a few minutes because they were making a new batch of whipped cream. You can’t complain about having to wait for dessert when they are making homemade whipped cream! The pudding came out warm, with a nice cinnamon syrup and huge dallop of whipped cream on top. There is really nothing more to say than, “perfection”.

Tanya’s was everything we had hoped it would be and much more. Great food combined with a great atmosphere and waitstaff equals a memorable dining experience. Tanya has recently added some wine and beer options to the menu and has plans to offer live music on the patio this summer.  More reasons for you to check out this wonderful eatery gem right here in Wichita.

<a href="http://Tanya's Soup Kitchen on Urbanspoon“>

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