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Watermark Cafe

24 Apr

What’s better than sitting down to begin a new book? How about enjoying a tasty sandwich or salad while enjoying your book? Watermark Books and Cafe, located at Oliver and Douglas,  is the place where you can make this happen. Watermark is one of the few remaining independent book stores in Wichita and perhaps some of their success can be attributed to the popular cafe that is housed inside.

The Great Expectations: Could Dickens Describe it in Less Than 500 words?

The Great Expectations: Could Dickens Describe it in Less Than 500 words?

The scope of the cafe’s offerings is impressive for a small place and includes dine-in or carryout options for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, fresh baked pastries and breads, and catering. The menu consists of various sandwiches and salads cleverly named with book titles, soups, several breakfast offerings, daily desserts, and a number of specialty drinks.

On our visit I went with the Great Expectations, a Dickinsonian delight that consisted of turkey, apricot-curry mayo, lettuce, and chopped walnuts. It was a sandwich that even Pip would have been pleased with. The apricot-curry mayo and walnuts were a nice combination that livened up this sandwich. Steph ordered the Catcher in the Rye, which included turkey, salami, swiss cheese, and sundried tomato mayo served on rye bread of course. This hearty and warm sandwich was quite tasty, although the rye bread was not as good as other versions in town. We also ordered a PB and J kids meal for our son, which in hindsight may not have been the best decision. Imagine a small child with PB covered hands and face running off into the kids section of the store. Lesson learned.

Watermark Cafe offers decent and unique sandwich and salad options for quick dining. They also get bonus points for having creative names for their menu items. In fact I took the liberty to come up with a few more suggestions for possible new items:

The Heart of Darkness: Baked tilapia, fried plantains, and mango salsa served on a whole wheat tortilla

A Christmas Carol: Thick sliced turkey, smoked gouda cheese, and a walnut cranberry pesto

The Grapes of Wrath: A mixed green salad with grapes, toasted pecans, and a buttermilk vinaigrette

 

Watermark Cafe on Urbanspoon

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/329/1346128/restaurant/Watermark-Cafe-Wichita

Bill’s Charcoal Grill

26 Mar

In theory the hamburger is simple, a disk of meat, a few condiments, some toppings, and a bread based cover are all that is necessary. Yet I am always surprised how restaurants find ways to screw up this pure Americana dish. The most egregious error is when restaurants opt for frozen pre-made patties and then proceed to cook the hell out of them. A burger patty should be handled with care and not require a pick axe to remove it from a frozen stack. If the aforementioned burger atrocity strikes a chord with you as well, then you will find a safe haven at Bill’s Charcoal Grill.

The Classic Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries

The Classic Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries

Located on the corner of 29th and Arkansas, this simple eatery knows how to make a reasonable hamburger. The new owners of Bill’s spruced up the interior and made a few minor changes, but the original concept has remained the same. Besides the typical burger options, a few pasta, seafood, and steak dishes are offered now. Side dishes include fries, sweet potato fries, O-rings, and baked beans. A condiment/topping bar is located next to the counter, so you can add all the veggies you desire. The food is reasonably priced with the basic burger and side costing around $5.

On our visit Steph tried the basic cheeseburger with sweet potato fries and I went with the exotic California burger and a side of O-rings. I was pleased and somewhat apprehensive when we were asked how we wanted the burgers cooked. Too many times I have been deceived by restaurants promising to cook burgers to order, only to discover that everything comes out well done. I know in this age of ecoli, you must be very careful when dealing with ground meat, but with proper handling and quality meat, cooking a hamburger to medium doneness is safe and acceptable.

The California in All Its Glory

The California in All Its Glory

I was quite impressed with the California burger. With the first bite I noticed that several of the qualifications for an acceptable hamburger were met; a toasted bun, plenty of melted cheese, and a juicy meat disk. Besides cheese the California comes with bacon, avocado, and a split hot link for good measure. While the hotlink was good, it provided almost too much decadence as well as grease. Next time I will order the Cali sans link. Steph’s cheeseburger  was just about all you can hope for in a basic burger. I was impressed that both of our burgers were cooked just as requested. Both the fries and onion rings were just average. The fries could have used some seasoning and the onion rings seemed like they were of the frozen variety.

Bill’s Charcoal Grill should definitely be in the discussion when the topic of best burgers in Wichita comes up. Their fresh, cooked to order patties help set them apart from many other contenders. If you happen to save room for dessert head next door to one of my favorite restaurants in town, Paleteria La Reyna for some delicious homemade ice cream.

Bill's Charcoal Grill on Urbanspoon

Copper Oven Cafe and Bakery(Don’t Leave Without Dessert)

20 Jan

In my opinion some the most unpredictable dining adventures you can have are at cafes and diners. You never know if the place just pulls everything out of the freezer or if they actually take the time to prepare homemade food. It’s the difference between enjoying a tasty comfort food meal or something that leaves you wondering why you didn’t just go get some Pho. Copper Oven Cafe and Bakery, located on 13th just east of Meridian, happens to be an establishment where you won’t go away doubting the state of traditional American cuisine.

A Perfect Reuben with a Mound of Ranch Potatoes

A Perfect Reuben with a Mound of Ranch Potatoes

Copper Oven is located in  an older strip mall, but inside is a spacious and inviting dining area. Besides the restaurant there is a bakery that of course you must go  by to get to your seat. It’s a great idea because after glancing at their wide variety of cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries you will be hard pressed to pass up dessert. The menu has all the items you would expect from an American style cafe, but also some surprises like ceviche, upscale sandwiches, and several signature salads.  Breakfast is also served till 2pm each day and they have many hearty egg dishes to choose from.

On our visit we both decided to try a couple of their sandwiches. I ordered the iconic Reuben and Steph went with a grilled chicken pesto on focaccia.  The first thing I noticed about the Reuben was the thick cut rye bread it was served on. Good rye bread is essential for a proper Reuben and is all too often overlooked. Well not at Copper Oven, these people don’t mess around with their rye bread. Tender corned beef, plenty of melted cheese, sauerkraut, and of course the grilled rye made this one of the best Reubens I have

The Chicken Pesto Sammie

The Chicken Pesto Sammie

had. The chicken pesto was close to being a really good sandwich, but we thought it was held back by the focaccia. It was thick compared to the rest of the ingredients and could have benefited from being toasted. Other than that it was a tasty sandwich.  The pesto was fresh and had a strong basil flavor, and the fresh veggies were a good touch. Both of our sandwiches came with a large pile of Ranch potatoes, which were just basic fried potato cubes. We didn’t hear any complaints from out son who finished off quite a bit of his grilled cheese. The  biggest decision of our visit and probably our week was what to get for dessert. After some deliberation we ordered a slice of chocolate peanut butter cream pie. The coconut cream was a close second and I will be back for some of that action soon. Anyway, the

Decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie

Decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie

chocolate peanut butter pie was money. Good crust, great flavor, and some sinful whipped cream on top is about all you can hope for in a cream pie.

If you are looking for simple American fare done right as well as great desserts, Copper Oven is a place to check out.
http://copperovencafe.com/

Copper Oven Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cow and Sow Deli

11 Jan

It seems like the Wichita dining scene has a lag of several years when it comes to new trends. We are just now getting over the great food truck explosion of 2012/2013, Gastropubs are a relatively new concept, and everything is served on a pretzel bun now. At this pace you can expect Cronuts coming to a bakery near you in 2020. Another one of those trends that is starting to catch on here is the locavore movement/diet/religion/whathaveyou. This admirable trend tries to focus on sourcing as many ingredients as possible from local producers. With all the great meat and produce that Kansas has to offer, I am surprised it took this long for the movement to come into full swing. Cow and Sow Deli is the newest in a growing list of restaurants that offer local produce, breads, and meat.

Mushroom and Kale Soup: It tasted better than it looked

Mushroom and Kale Soup: It tasted better than it looked

Cow and Sow is located downtown on Douglas, inside the Renfro building. It is a small space, especially on a busy day, but there is plenty of seating in a separate dining area next door in the Renfro Studio. Besides serving food Cow and Sow also has a very small market where you can buy various food products from local producers. At the time of our visit it looked a bit bare, but January in Kansas is not known as one of the more bountiful months for fresh food.

The lunch and dinner menu consists of a few sandwiches and one or two soups of the day. There is also a self-described “salad trough” that features unique homemade vegetarian and vegan options.  The sandwiches feature locally baked bread and greens, while the soups are all made in-house daily. They also offer a small assortment of pastries, coffee, and desserts.

During the winter months I am hopelessly addicted to homemade soups of all kinds, so I of course ordered a bowl of the mushroom and kale soup as well as half of the Tangy Beef sandwich. My mom also ordered a bowl of the kale soup. Not long after ordering one of the owners came out to tell us that we had cleaned them out of soup for the day, so to make up for the lack of soup they brought us out another half Tangy Beef and a Mooffaletta.

Tangy Beef with fresh lettuce

Tangy Beef with fresh lettuce

Although we got the bottom of the soup pot, it was still delicious. For being a vegan friendly soup I was surprised at how creamy it was. Unfortunately most the mushrooms and bits of kale were tiny, but I’ll chalk that up to it being the last bowl of the day.  The tangy beef sandwich was impressive as well. It consisted of thinly sliced top round, local hydroponic lettuce, a horseradish chive cheese, horseradish sauce and a fresh pretzel bun. I have to say that the lettuce nearly stole the show from the beef. It tasted very fresh and certainly will spoil you from buying greens out of a bag again. There was just enough horseradish spread to give the sandwich flavor, but it was not overwhelming. All and all this was a light tasting, yet filling sandwich.  The Mooffaletta was certainly a heavier sandwich, but satisfying on this crisp day. It consisted of salami, ham, mortadella, mozzarella and provolone cheeses, and an olive spread. All of this was served on toasted focaccia bread from Crust and Crumb. With this list of ingredients one would really have to work hard to not make it delicious and luckily Cow and Sow didn’t. I thought the prices were reasonable given the quality and quantity of the food.

Apparently we hit Cow and Sow on one of their busiest days, but despite that service was friendly and attentive. I can’t wait to visit Cow and Sow during the summer when local vegetables are in full swing. I’m sure they will be serving up some good stuff, but until then I could go for another bowl or three of their soup.

http://www.cowandsowdeli.com/

Cow and Sow Deli on Urbanspoon

Birds on the Roof Bakery and Cafe

16 Dec

Every once in a while you have a real fun dining experience that makes you appreciate local restaurants even more . On our visit to the recently opened Birds on the Roof Bakery and Cafe we had such an experience. Birds on the Roof has a prime location at Central and Rock and is one of the more unique and eclectic restaurants you will find in these parts.

A Small Glimpse of the Decor

A Small Glimpse of the Decor

The inside of the restaurant has undergone some extensive remodeling since the days when this space was a scuba shop. The design motif is something along the lines of Parisian Cafe meets the Mad Hatter’s tea party. The colors are bold and vibrant, there is a big red tree, a water feature, and a staircase in the middle of the dining room that leads to a second  level of seating. To cap it all off  a projector was beaming Casablanca onto one of the walls during our visit. Much to our son’s delight they were thoroughly decked out for Christmas as well including an electric train.

Birds on the Roof is primarily a breakfast and lunch place, but recently they

Baguette with Buttercream Spreads

Baguette with Buttercream Spreads

hired Chef Nathan Toubia to get a dinner service going. He brought over some of his popular dishes from the now closed Bocconcini including lemon chicken, pork saltimbocca, and beef with mushrooms. The dinner menu also includes a few salads, sandwiches, and pizzas.

On our visit I ordered the Ultimate Burger, Steph went with the Chicken Pesto Piadina, and the chef made our son a grilled cheese. A few minutes later the chef came back to say he was almost out of ground beef, so I substituted a BLT. While awaiting our food, we were served some baguette with mint and strawberry buttercreams. The baguette was nothing amazing, but the fresh buttercreams were a treat.

The pesto piadina is a hot flatbread sandwich with chicken, pesto, tomatoes, and plenty of gooey mozzarella. Although messy it was a delicious sandwich. The chef decided to have some fun with my plate and brought out a very tiny slider burger complete with bacon and cheese. I also got a full sized BLT. It was hard to pass judgement on the burger since it was so tiny, but it had good seasoning despite being well done. The BLT on the other hand was great, but technically it was a BAT, since it was piled high with arugula. The sweet pepper bacon is what

Mini Slider Burger

Mini Slider Burger

made this sandwich. I’m not sure if they make the bacon in house, but it was wonderfully sweet and crunchy. Next time I will probably get a side of the sweet crack bacon with whatever I order. Both our sandwiches came with homestyle fries that were nicely seasoned and crispy. We could not pass up dessert since there was a tray of French macarons in the bakery section. We sampled a pistachio and a blueberry variety. Both were good,

The BAT with Sweet Crack Bacon

The BAT with Sweet Crack Bacon

especially the blueberry, but the delicate shells were too crunchy.

There were only two employees working during our meal, one of them being the chef, Nathan Toubia. It was  fun to have him personally wait on us, although I hope they plan to add more help so he can stay in the kitchen. During busier times I would be concerned about the quality of service with such a small staff. We do plan on going back to try the breakfast and lunch menus especially since they have something called waffle nachos.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds-On-The-Roof/1410823972467327

Birds on the Roof Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Hill Bar and Grill

13 Oct

It was with much anticipation that I waited for The Hill to open this summer. The promise of craft beer and a gastropub style menu seemed like something the Eastside needed. Finally two months after opening we got a chance to have dinner there.

Located at Oliver and Douglas, it’s hard to believe the The Hill’s building once housed Barriers as the insides have been completely gutted. In place of the Waterford crystal that once filled Barriers there are copious amounts of TVs. In fact there are more tellys in this place per square foot than most sports bars. I’m all for a TV or two inside of an establishment that bills itself as a bar and grill, but this is kind of overkill. Coupled with piped in background music, the atmosphere is a bit noisy and distracting.

The Hill Burger: Loaded and Greasy

The Hill Burger: Loaded and Greasy

The first big decision of the night was what beer I should start out with. The beer menu is conveniently broken down by varieties, with about 20 beers on tap and 30 or so bottles. While the selection is not as large or diverse as The Anchor, it is certainly respectable. I ended up ordering one of the seasonal draft selections, Fluer de Houblon, which is a delicious Belgian pale ale.

I was surprised at how wide ranging the food menu at The Hill was with anything from ceviche to smoked ribs to a 22 oz ribeye offered. There are also burgers, salads, “street tacos”, homemade pretzels, and much much more. While there were many items that caught my

Jazzed Up Turkey Burger

Jazzed Up Turkey Burger

attention I finally decided to order the turkey burger. Typically my strategy when trying a new bar and grill type restaurant is to order a burger because it’s a good benchmark item. If you can’t cook a decent burger then it’s going to be tough to pull off much else. Steph went with the The Hill’s signature burger, and our son got the kids quesadilla.

The Hill is one of the few places where you can get a turkey burger in town and I was happy with their effort. The patty was reasonably thick and had enough seasoning to make up for the normal blandness of ground turkey. To further jazz up the burger it was served with havarti cheese, cranberry relish, and arugula. The only issue was the bun, it could have used a nice toasting on the grill. The fries were crispy, but really nothing that impressive. The house made dill pickles served on the side were tasty.

The Hill’s signature burger was a spectacle to behold. Besides a large beef patty it featured several slices of delicious ham, swiss cheese, sautéed onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and dijonnaise. And what kind of bun was utilized in this masterpiece you ask? Why a pretzel bun of course, because you can’t have a fancy burger these days without the obligatory pretzel bun.  Steph’s burger was actually cooked to medium so that right there is good for a few points. Unfortunately the burger was so large that its structural

Quesadilla and Fries: A well balanced meal

Quesadilla and Fries: A well balanced meal

integrity failed and it proved difficult to eat. It was also abnormally greasy, perhaps from the sautéed onions. Besides all the mess, it was a quality burger although I’m not sure it was worth the $12 price tag. Adding a fried egg would have increased the price to $14, it must be a hell of an egg to cost that much. Our son’s quesadilla was simple, but perfect for kids and he enjoyed it. The only odd part was that it came with some pickles as well. Pickles and quesadillas are a combination I am unfamiliar with.

Although The Hill was not quite what I thought it was going to be, it is still a decent addition to the dining scene. The hectic atmosphere and large menu detract from the experience. I would like to go back to try some additional dishes and more craft brews of course. Despite what I have read on urbanspoon and yelp, our service was good.

http://www.hillwichita.com/

The Hill bar and grill on Urbanspoon

Annex Lounge (Home of the Inside Out Burger)

9 Aug

The Annex Lounge is one of those Wichita institutions that many people have driven by all their lives, but never bother to or had the courage to venture inside. Located at Woodlawn and Harry, The Annex is your stereotypical neighborhood bar. If one was looking for an authentic dive bar experience this would be the place. It is the Bruce Springsteen of bars, where the locals gather for cheap domestic beer and a unique burger.

First off, this is an over 21 establishment, so the kids will have to wait until they are of legal age to experience The Annex. Inside you will find a small bar and a few tables on either side. The interior is clean, but most of the fixtures and furniture probably haven’t been updated in the last 25 years, which is the way you want it to be in a place like this. Trendy faux marble tables and giant flat screen TVs would really ruin the mood. They do have pool and shuffle board tables for entertainment.

annex_2

My poor camera phone does not do the Inside Out Burger justice

The menu is pretty small at the Annex. If you are looking for anything besides a burger you are pretty much out of luck. Besides the traditional single and double, they offer an intriguing one called the Inside Out Burger. My friend and I both went with this option with everything on it including onions, ketchup, and mustard.  Within a few minutes we discovered that the Inside Out consisted of a regular meat disk with an inverted bun that had been slathered with butter and grilled. It was a simple manipulation of the bun, but it proved to be rather transcendental.  The patty itself was of decent size for a single, although next time a double will be in order. The meat was flavorful and juicy enough despite being well done. The onions, cheese, and buttery bun helped to make this one of the best dive bar burgers I have had to date. While the side of chips was none too exciting, for less than $6 dollars I wasn’t complaining.

The Annex is first and foremost a drinking establishment and a blue collar one at that. So craft beer snobs who can’t enjoy a domestic brew every now and again should stay away. The good news for all you hipsters is that PBR pounders are available at a reasonable price.

I think too many people have the notion that dive bars are full of seedy regulars and surly barmaids, but that is not the case here. The waitresses were friendly and welcoming, while the patrons appeared to be fairly normal human beings. So if it’s no frills beer and burgers you are in the mood for then The Annex Lounge should be on your list.

Annex Lounge on Urbanspoon

Stearman Field Bar and Grill

10 Jul

Typically dining at an airport is not something to get terribly excited about; whether it’s battling crowds, overpriced food, or some greasy junk you regret eating as soon as you jam into your aisle seat. Fortunately, at Stearman Field in Benton you can enjoy a pleasant dining experience without having to be poked and prodded by TSA agents. The unique bar and grill is located right on the airstrip and is a popular hangout for both locals and those from the surrounding areas.

Stearman Burger

Stearman Burger

The interior of Stearman has a shockingly aviation oriented motif. If you have ever wanted to enjoy a hamburger, while staring down the nose of a P-51 this is your place. Several tables are made from plane engines, replica planes hang from the ceiling, the walls are covered with aviation memorabilia, and there is a Big Ass ceiling fan. It literally is a Big Ass fan because that is the name of the manufacturer and this one probably has 10 foot blades on it. Besides indoor seating there is a large covered patio that is perfect for gazing upon landing aircraft or a picturesque Kansas sunset. There is even a small jungle gym  to keep the kids entertained.

We hit the restaurant on a busy Saturday night and had to wait  for a table to open up, but that gave us time to enjoy a beer and watch planes do touch-n-go’s.  The menu at Stearman is your generic bar and grill fare with daily specials offered as well. We had heard that the Stearman Burger was a popular choice so I ordered that, while Steph went with the patty melt. I got some O-rings

Patty Melt

Patty Melt

with my meal and Steph ordered her usual sweet potato fries. The Stearman burger came with grilled jalapenos, onions, and pepper jack cheese. It was a good combination that gave the burger some added heat and texture, but the patty itself was average. More disappointing were the onion rings that I’m fairly certain were previously frozen. Steph’s patty melt was okay, but again the meat was lacking much in the flavor department. The sweet potato fries were fresh and crispy though.  Our son seemed to enjoy the food, as he polished off most of a grilled cheese sandwich. Stearman also has a full bar and several unexpected beer selections, such as Stella Artois.

While we weren’t blown away by the food we had during our visit to Stearman, it was a fun place to have a meal. You can’t beat the unique atmosphere if you are looking for a little weekend diversion with the family or a good place to throw a party. They are open daily from 7am till 10 pm, so there is plenty of time to get out there and experience Stearman Field.

Touch-N-Go's with Grandpa

Touch-N-Go’s with Grandpa

Stearman Field Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Doo Dah Diner (Home of Habit Forming French Toast)

29 Jun

Typically diner food is something that doesn’t evoke much in the way of culinary excitement. Not to belittle these backbones of American food culture in any way, but dry meatloaf covered in ketchup just isn’t that sexy anymore. So when a new restaurant claiming to be a diner opened in town that offered such menu items as banana bread french toast, homemade eggs Benedict, and a focaccia sandwich I wondered what was going on.

Homemade Eggs Benny: A Rarity These Days

Homemade Eggs Benny: A Rarity These Days

To kick off Wichita Restaurant Week we finally visited Doo Dah, which is awkwardly located at Kellogg and Market. But location be damned they bring in the customers. At first glance it did appear to have the ambiance of a traditional diner with friendly servers, regulars perched along the counter, and tables and chairs that had seen plenty of blue plate specials in their time.

A New Spin on Corned Beef Hash

A New Spin on Corned Beef Hash

The menu at Doo Dah covers both breakfast and lunch items with just about everything you would expect at a diner as well as some delicious surprises. The stars of the breakfast menu include the banana bread french toast, crispy corned beef hash, homemade eggs benny, and from-scratch biscuits and gravy. On the lunch menu the outside in burger, Bat Out of Hell meatloaf, and turkey focaccia looked like good choices.

On our visit we went with the Restaurant Week breakfast special, which included the Triple D and an order of B&G. The Triple D is a half order of each of the three most popular breakfast items which include the banana bread french toast, corned beef hash, and eggs benny. The french toast was everything it was billed to be and more. The bread was wonderfully moist and would have been great by itself, but it also came topped with candied apples and pecans as well

Classic B&G

Classic B&G

as apple butter and a dollop of whipped cream. Needless to say it was a bit rich, but I loved the sweet and salty flavor combination of the pecans and apple butter. Steph and I both agreed this was one of the best dessert dishes (there’s no way any sane person would classify this as a breakfast item) we have had. Timi’s Benny was another impressive dish that featured bacon, avocado and homemade Hollandaise sauce on top of a poached egg. There were no corners cut when making this Benedict as the egg was still runny and the Hollandaise sauce tasted great. The avocado slice was a nice twist, and its creaminess went well with the other ingredients. The B&G were some of the best I have had in town. Although they were just your typical biscuits with white gravy, the fact that it was all homemade made the difference. The corned beef hash was another tasty and heavy dish. Large chunks of corned beef were sautéed with

A Top ICT Dish: Banana Bread French Toast

A Top ICT Dish: Banana Bread French Toast

peppers and potatoes and then smothered in cheese and two eggs. A bit of green chili sauce is placed on top for good measure. As far as hash goes, this version was tasty. The larger pieces of corned beef were a nice departure from the traditional small dice that one usually encounters with hash recipes.

Doo Dah is not just another diner. Their unique recipes and made from scratch philosophy makes them stand out among the other breakfast and lunch places in town. With just one bite of the french toast, you’ll be back for more and more.

http://doodahdiner.com/

Doo-Dah Diner on Urbanspoon

The Monarch

17 May

For many years the term “bar food” has been used as a derogatory term conjuring up images of soggy fries and burnt hamburgers, but with the rise of the Gastropub that has started to change. It seems that people are embracing the melding of good alcohol selections and quality, upscale comfort foods and I for one couldn’t be more pleased. Wichita is slowly catching on to this trend with the likes of Public and The Anchor stepping up their game. The newest addition to

Smoke Sausage and Cheese: Not Your Typical Appetizer

Smoke Sausage and Cheese: Not Your Typical Appetizer

this restaurant genre is The Monarch, located on the traffic circle in Delano.

The interior is spacious with plenty of seating both inside and out on the patio that faces Douglas. There is plenty of local artwork adorning the walls and the light fixtures made out of old bicycle rims are quite impressive. TVs, a pool table, and an internet juke box ensure that patrons will be able to keep themselves entertained during a night of partying.

The Monarch’s menu is small and focused, which is a nice departure from some bar and grills that offer a mind numbing array of food selections. I was also quite excited to see that the menu is built around in-house smoked meats. This allows The Monarch to offer some unique dishes,  although they do offer the obligatory Wichita restaurant appetizer, hummus.  At least it’s jazzed up with peppers and served with naan bread. The other apps include decadent items such as stuffed burnt end mushrooms, loaded sweet potato tots, and a smoked sausage and cheese tray. Sandwiches are the  focus of the main course menu, but a couple of soups and salads are available as well including a hardcore chef salad that comes with ham, brisket, turkey and duck bacon. Yes, you read that correctly, duck bacon. Calling this thing a salad probably violates some USDA guidelines, but I’m not going to turn them in for creating such a thing of beauty.

Not An Ordinary Brisket Sandwich

Not An Ordinary Brisket Sandwich

To start off our meal we ordered the sausage and cheese tray. I really wanted to order the stuffed ‘shrooms, but I was outvoted at our table. The tray included two types of sausage, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and naan bread. The sausages were high quality with a good smoked flavor. I would have liked to see more exotic cheese selections, but overall it was a good appetizer. For our main dishes we were faced with several tantalizing sandwich choices, but eventually we decided on the The Monarch and Chicken Caprese. I went with a side of homemade potato chips and Steph ordered the sweet potato tots. The Monarch featured smoked brisket, sautéed onions and peppers, and provolone cheese served on a tasty baguette. The brisket was nicely done with good smoke flavor and fairly tender. Overall I really liked the sandwich, it was nice change from your typical brisket sandwich that consists of two slabs of white bread and BBQ sauce. Steph’s Caprese sandwich was an impressive combination of smoked chicken, pesto, tomatoes, and provolone. Oftentimes it is hard to keep a smoked meat like chicken moist for very long, but The Monarch did  a nice job of pulling it off. The homemade potato chips were spot on and the sweet potato tots were solid as well.

The Monarch is a nice addition to the Wichita dining scene, especially since they are one of the few places you can get good food late at night. Its unique, yet unpretentious food menu makes it an attractive place for causal American dining options. The only real issue was the fact they did not have any high chairs. I know its supposed to be a trendy bar and grill place, but you could at least have a high chair for those terrible parents such as myself who have no qualms taking their children to bars, albeit at reasonable hours of the day. Perhaps they could commission a local artists to make some out of old PBR cans?

The Monarch on Urbanspoon

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