Archive | February, 2013

Taste and See

28 Feb

Taste and See may be one of the best kept dining secrets in town these days. Tucked away in the old Wichita Mall on Harry St., Chef Jason Febres offers Wichitans his Latin Fusion cuisine in several unique dining experiences.

First there is the restaurant itself that is open M-F for lunch and Th-Sat for dinner. The restaurant features an open kitchen area, so diners can sit back and watch as their food is prepared. Secondly there is the “Ultimate Dining Experience”, a high-end and intimate monthly dinner with specialty themes and menus chosen by the Chef. Lastly is the “Chef’s Table”, which is a weekly five course meal with a menu chosen by the Chef, for 16 people or less. Taste and See also offers mixology and cooking classes.

Chicken Spring Roll with Tahini Peanut Sauce

Chicken Spring Roll with Tahini Peanut Sauce

We took advantage of a very good Groupon offer recently and booked ourselves two spots for the “Chef’s Table”. Finding Taste and See is a bit tricky if you aren’t paying attention, just look for a small banner hanging above the entrance.  Once inside we were ushered into a conference room, complete with large table and office chairs. At first I wasn’t sure if we were there for dinner or to watch a powerpoint presentation, but judging by the silverware and glasses I figured we were in the right place. After everyone was accounted for and had full glasses of wine, Chef Jason came in and briefed us as to how the evening would unfold. He explained his thoughts on cooking and his personal cuisine style. He also emphasized that he liked to serve small portions with big flavors, something that he thinks is missing from many restaurants in town(I tend to agree with him). On this night we would be served a five course dinner that highlighted his Latin Fusion cuisine. While he and his sous chefs prepared our meal, we would be able to watch the action thanks to a large projection screen in the conference/dining room.

The first course was a light chicken spring roll with chives and a Thai peanut sauce with tahini and pineapple juice. The

The Real Cubano=Real Good

The Real Cubano=Real Good

spring roll was good, but what really made this dish was the wonderful peanut sauce. I love traditional Thai peanut sauce and was hesitant as to how this Latin version would compare, but there was no need for alarm, because it was very good. We were left hoping that the rest of the meal would be just as creative and tasty. The second course was a small portion of the restaurant’s popular Real Cubano. This version of a Cuban sandwich was taken to 11 with the thin and crispy bread, tender pork, ham, and tangy sauce.  Any sandwich that employs multiple pork products is pretty hard to mess up in my book. The third plate was actually served in a glass, and was one of the best things I have eaten at a restaurant recently. The dish was described as a  deconstructed maki roll with sushi rice, sesame-lime

Top Dish Honors for Deconstructed Maki Roll

Top Dish Honors for Deconstructed Maki Roll

marinated tuna, and plantain straws. It was the simplicity of this dish that I really enjoyed. Just three high quality main ingredients packed with flavor and texture. The “main” course was a small KC Strip with chimichuri sauce served over a bed of  plantain and black bean paste. The proverbial icing on the cake was the fried egg placed on top of the steak. This dish had several different flavor profiles and textures going on, but they complemented each other nicely when eaten together. The plantain paste was slightly sweet, while the

Not Your Typical Steak Dish

Not Your Typical Steak Dish

chimichuri sauce offered some heat to balance it out. This was another great dish that left me wanting a whole bowl of the plantain paste. And what kind of dessert would you serve to finish off this wonderful meal? How about the rich chocolatey kind featuring Brazilian chocolate sauce and a splash of Irish creme. It was another excellent dish that featured a smooth, pudding-like chocolate sauce with bits of cookie mixed in. Marshmallow creme and some Irish creme topped off the dessert. The only complaint I had was that it was served in a tall shot glass, which did not allow the diner the ability to lick it clean.

A Decadent Finish to Dinner

A Decadent Finish to Dinner

Being able to watch your food prepared for you was a neat experience, even if it was a bit uneventful. I kept waiting for the chef to walk in and fly into some type of Gordon Ramsay-esque tirade, but it was not to be on this night.  After our dinner Chef Jason came back to check on us and make a little small talk. He was very personable throughout the whole evening.

Steph and I were both very impressed with our dinner at Taste and See. The service and food were both excellent, and for the price I wouldn’t expect anything less. The whole dinning service lasted about two hours, but that is not uncommon for a multi-course dinner. If you don’t want spend $55 a person for this experience, the regular restaurant is always an option.

http://www.tasteandseeict.com/

Taste & See on Urbanspoon

Chiang Mai

22 Feb

Previously published in the Wichita Eagle:

Chiang Mai has flown under my restaurant radar for quite some time, but finally at the behest of a trusted friend, we headed down south to Hillside and 31st Street to see what it was all about. Judging by the bars on the windows, which in my experience is a good indicator of food quality, I expected a good meal. Inside we were unexpectedly greeted by a spacious and tidy dining room with pleasing hues of purple paint adorning the walls.

Duck Curry: Better than Whiskey on a Cold Day

Duck Curry: Better than Whiskey on a Cold Day

While Chiang Mai is primarily a Thai restaurant, their lunch menu (11am-3pm) encompasses highlights from several Asian countries including Vietnam and China. All lunch specials come with your choice of salad, soup or egg roll, plus dessert. One of my favorite cold weather dishes is Thai curry so I ordered a spicy bowl of the roasted duck curry (Gaeng Phet Pet Yang, $6.95). My wife went with the mild version of Mussman curry ($6.50). For our appetizers I had the soup, while my wife tried the egg roll.

Hearty Potato and Chicken Curry

Hearty Potato and Chicken Curry

The clear broth soup was simple, but satisfying. It consisted of sliced green onions, small rice noodles, and wonderful toasted garlic. The egg roll was small compared to some behemoths you can pick up at buffets around town, but it was fresh and enjoyable. The duck curry included bamboo shoots, cherry tomatoes, basil, and tender pieces of duck bathed in a wonderfully creamy and spicy sauce. Although I ordered it “spicy” it was not overpowering. This was some of the best curry I have had in Wichita. The Mussman curry was comprised of chicken, chunks of potato, and peanuts in another very good curry sauce. For dessert we each got a freshly fried round doughnut that was most excellent.

Baby Approved Doughnut

Baby Approved Doughnut

The service at Chiang Mai was superb. Our waitresses were very friendly and took an immediate liking to our 10 month old son. He had a fried doughnut in front of him before we even had drinks at our table. If you are in a hurry, ordering online from their website is an option.

http://chiangmaithaiks.com/
Chiang Mai Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Ziggy’s Pizza

4 Feb

Over the last couple of years the Wichita pizza market has shed its humble Pizza Hut pie roots and started to offer a plethora of new options. From Sauerkraut to sunflower seeds, it’s all now available to the Wichita pizza connoisseur.

The "White Delight" was Certainly a Delight

The “White Delight” was Certainly a Delight

Ziggy’s Pizza is tucked away in Clifton Square Village on Douglas  between Hillside and Oliver. The tiny space has been a number of restaurants over the years, but it seems that after a year in business Ziggy’s has gained itself a loyal following. If you are claustrophobic or just haven’t bathed recently beware because it can get cramped inside the cozy restaurant. We visited during a WSU game and had to wait a few minutes for a table to open up. Luckily there are TVs on literally every wall, so you won’t miss a minute of the action. Outside they do have a nice shaded patio area that would be a good option when the weather allows.

The menu at Ziggy’s is fairly straightforward,

The Bacony Delight of "Meet Me at Ziggy's"

The Bacony Delight of “Meet Me at Ziggy’s”

besides pizzas they also have salads, toasted sandwiches, and generic appetizers. The only wrinkle is that the pizzas are served in one-size-fits-all rectangular form. They offer several specialty pies, plus the option to build your own. Each pizza is decent sized and could easily feed two adults. Ziggy’s also offers a small rotating list of craft beers on tap or for those that can’t handle the hard stuff there is Bud Light as well.

On our visit we ordered the White Delight and the Meet Me at Ziggy’s. The White Delight had a cream cheese base with plenty of mozzarella, green peppers, chicken, and bacon packed on top. The crust was nicely made and crispy, while the toppings all went well together. I especially liked the cream cheese layer, there was just enough to get the flavor without making the crust soggy. Meet Me at Ziggy’s is their version of the meat lovers and it came piled high with Canadian bacon, sausage, ground beef, pepperoni, and some lovely crispy bacon.  The only thing the pizza was lacking was enough sauce. I would have liked a bit more sauce to balance out the heavy-duty meatiness.

All in all we both enjoyed our pizzas at Ziggy’s. They are a solid addition to the pizza scene and their local-neighborhood-joint feel is another plus.

 
Ziggy's on Urbanspoon

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