Archive | October, 2011

Bagatelle Bakery- Wichita KS

27 Oct

One of Wichita’s dining/food weaknesses is the local bakery scene. There are only a handful of places that offer fresh baked delights and one of those is Bagatelle. Located on Harry just east of Woodlawn, Bagatelle has been turning out breads and pastries for a number of years as well as serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

After just one visit to this bakery/restaurant I am ready give it the award for “Most Eclectic Menu in Wichita” or “Most Likely Restaurant to serve Mexican, Lebanese, and French foods on the same day”.  Those are two categories that must be added to the Reader’s Choice Awards next year. We apparently visited on Mexican day, because the special was enchiladas, which complemented the quiches, soups, hummus, and ham sandwiches rather nicely. A bit taken back by the presence of enchiladas at a bakery I fell back on my old trusty friend, the ham and cheese croissant. I also got a cup of black bean soup for my side. Steph decided to go simple as well and ordered a turkey croissant with a side of hummus. Making our way to the decent sized seating area, we found a basket full of pita chips and well as some tasty ciabatta bread that was being offered to all customers. It looked like if we had gotten there earlier, there would have been some cake for dessert on the freebie table.

We enjoyed our generous bowl of hummus and as well as the cup of black bean soup and some ciabatta bread while waiting for the sandwiches to come out. The sandwiches eventually came out served with a simple pickle. Both the turkey and the ham sandwich came out the same with ample amounts of meat, several slices of cheese, and served on what was a very good croissant. Some people might have been taken aback by the lack of other ingredients, but it just reminded me of the way they serve sandwiches in France. When you have quality ingredients you don’t need a bunch of sauce and vegetables to get in the way.  Now I’m not saying the croissants at Bagatelle are as good as in Paris, but they are some of the better ones I have had stateside. We left Bagatelle full and satisfied with our experience. Steph was so full from lunch she actually passed up on some of the wonderful looking pastries behind the counter.

As far as the bread and pastry products go at Bagatelle, they had croissants, ciabatta bread, baguettes, and a wide variety other assorted pastries. If their baked goods menu is anything like the lunch and dinner menu I can only assume that it is rather dynamic and changes day-to-day. Similar to N and J’s, Bagatelle also offers bags of pita chips, cheeses, and seasonings. To sum it all up, Bagatelle offers a random assortment of good food, breads, and pastries at reasonable prices and they can even make you a wedding cake.

Baugatelle’s Daily Specials

<a href="http://Bagatelle Bakery on Urbanspoon“>

Sumo-Wichita KS (The best sushi in Wichita?)

19 Oct

Phil and I had a reason to celebrate recently and figured  lunch at the ever so trendy Sumo would be a good idea, plus we had a groupon.  Sumo is located at 13th and Webb and is a place where you have a choice of feasting on sushi or being entertained by knife juggling cooks at one of the several Habachi grill areas in the restaurant. Sumo has a very modern look to it with large glass windows, dim lighting, and odd chain curtains. As we walked in for lunch we quickly realized why Sumo was offering groupons for  weekday lunch. There were only three other tables in the entire restaurant. I know they attract a much larger crowd for dinner and lunch on the weekends. We were quickly seated and given a sushi menu to order from while we enjoyed the loud, angry rapping of Eminem. Certainly not the typical lunch background music, and bit too much for the delicate experience of eating sushi if you ask me.

On this occasion, Phil and I went with the Cali 10 Roll, Kansas Roll, Prosciutto Shrimp Roll,  Spider Roll and a side of brown rice for good measure. The Cali 10 is your basic California Roll that is then dipped in Tempura batter and fried. We ordered this one to give us comparison to Kanai’s Crunchy Cali Roll. Sumo’s was good, I enjoyed it, but Kanai has the leg up on this one. The Kansas Roll includes a piece of beef tenderloin, sprouts, and avocado. Kwan Court did a Kansas roll as well but served it with crab meat.  I prefer it with the crab but once again this roll was good. The Prosciutto Shrimp included prosciutto, shrimp, asparagus, and cream cheese. I was a bit leery of this one initially due to the flavor combinations. After a few more pieces, I realized it was a dang tasty roll. The last roll was the Spider Roll which has soft-shell crab tempura, masago, and avocado. This ended up being our favorite roll of the meal. The chunks of crab were large and fried nicely. I usually prefer rolls that don’t have too many ingredients so that I can enjoy each one. Overall, our sushi was very good and we enjoyed it, but we are going to have to say that we prefer Kanai’s sushi over Sumo both for taste and price. Our tab ended up being around $45 and I ordered water to drink. Sumo definitely deserves a nod in the honorable mentions, but we have to give the best sushi in ICT to Kanai.

Be prepared for long waits in the evenings and weekends if going during prime dining hours because Sumo can be a hot spot. If you are in a hurry and don’t mind some auditory abuse, we definitely suggest a weekday lunch. With the addition of Wasabi on the East side of town, Sumo has lost its top spot in my opinion.

<a href=”http://Sumo Japanese Grill on Urbanspoon“>

Ah So- Wichita KS

14 Oct

With so many Great Walls springing up every few blocks and just about every Dillons store offering a Chinese kitchen sometimes we forget about the abundance of hole-in-the-wall Chinese places around town. I recently acquainted myself with one such restaurant, Ah So. Ah So has been serving fresh, made to order Chinese food at Oliver and Lincoln for years. Although it looks like a sketchy place tucked between a laundry mat and a liquor store, I assure you there is nothing to fear. The inside is small and reminds me a lot of Mana Wok, minus all the random books and Polaroids. There are maybe 6 or 7 tables and a smiling Budda (have you ever seen a Budda thats not though?) behind the counter.

The menu has a decent selection of Chinese favorites, a couple Korean dishes, as well as “Noodle Creations”, and “Rice Creations”. On this visit I went with the almond chicken stir fry. The dish came heaped with fried rice and two mandu. Mandu are Korean dumplings, which in this case were filled with ground meat and fried. The almond chicken was very good. You could tell that it had been freshly made with vegetables and chicken that were cooked to the right doneness. The fried rice was good, certainly not overly greasy, but not quite as good as Manna Wok’s rice. There were several sauces offered on the table, so I decided to sample those as well. If you happen to have a stuffy nose I would recommend  the spicy mustard because it will clear you out in a hurry. The sweeter of the sauces went very nicely with the fried mandu.

If you are looking for good Chinese takeout, this is your place. Their cheap prices, made to order dishes, and that fact that they serve till 9 pm on most night makes this a good alternate to picking up some Lo Mein that has been sitting at Dillons for 3 hours.

Ah-So Oriental Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Luca Italian Kitchen (CLOSED)

5 Oct

CLOSED

A few Sundays ago, Phil and I found ourselves with only my parents for Sunday lunch. This was a nice surprise because it allowed for us to be a bit more adventurous and we were able to try a new spot. We decided Italian sounded good, and as much as we love us some Olive Garden and its endless salad and bread sticks and non-authentic food we opted first for Bocconcini’s but discovered they are closed on Sundays, so we headed to Luca Italian Kitchen in Old Town Square. Phil and I had visited the restaurant once before on a Saturday night, but passed it up once we found there was a long wait.  We were pleasantly surprised to find no wait on Sunday. In fact, there were only two other tables in the whole place.  The waiter quickly brought us out a carafe of water sans ice. How very European of them we thought, as long as they don’t charge us $15 dollars a carafe(FYI: They do that in France).  The waiter also provided us with a little background on the chef and his culinary philosophies. The chef is originally from Italy and up until a few months ago had been working in Denver before he was lured away to open this venture. He puts an emphasis on fresh and local ingredients as well as making just about everything from scratch.

Now I feel the need let you know that  you are not going to find “traditional” Italian dishes that we are used to on Luca’s menu. The menu is small with a good blend of pizzas, foccacia sandwiches, pasta dishes, and main entrees. You wont find plain old spaghetti, manicotti, or mac n cheese, so if you have a problem with that I guess you can stick to Olive Garden. Phil and I started off with a house salad to split and my parents ordered a grilled Caesar salad. Both salads were wonderful and rather large. The Caesar consisted of a split head of grilled Romaine drizzled with dressing.The house vinaigrette on our salad was very good as well. For lunch, I went ahead with the Gnocchi Sorrentina. Gnocchi is a potato based pasta that came in a tomato sauce with homemade mozzarella. The dish is much more simple than I had anticipated. The sauce was fantastic and the pieces of pasta were cooked perfectly. The mozzarella was the star of the dish with large chunks of it hiding in the sauce. I only wish I had added some type of meat to the dish-shrimp was an option and would have been great. Chicken and beef are also options. Phil ordered the Prosciutto Focacce. Think of it as a warm sandwich with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and arugula served on foccacia bread. Phil really enjoyed the sandwich and I even stole a bite of it because the prosciutto was dang tasty. Our only complaint was that the sandwich came with a side of french fries. This was kind of weak for a restaurant that prides itself as being a traditional Italian place. Our favorite dish of the visit ended up belonging to my mom. She ordered the crespelle di spinachi e ricotta which were savory crepes stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese and topped with a very rich parmasean sauce. The dish is extremely rich and mom was able to eat about half of it. We happily helped her out with the rest. Luca does have a slightly different dinner menu so there are options like ravioli that are not available for lunch.

Overall, we enjoyed our experience. Our server was very knowledgeable and attentive, we had a nice quiet lunch, and enjoyed our food. I would love to go back and try out the spinach ravioli at dinner sometime. If you are in a hurry this is not the place to go. Since their dishes are all made to order you will find the wait a bit longer than what would typically be expected, but I think it’s worth it for the food you get.

<a href=”Luca Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon“>

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