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2014 Wichita Restaurant Week Sneak Peek: Reverie Coffee Roasters

8 Oct

WichitaRestaurantWeekLogoFinal2014The annual Wichita Restaurant Week starts on Friday and looks to build upon the success of the inaugural 2013 event. With over 20 restaurants and specialty food stores participating, there is a wide range of opportunities to get out and experience some great local food and support a worthy cause as well.

Restaurant Week will run from October 10th through the 19th and features prix fixe meals of $10, $20, and $40. Each restaurant has a specific menu or special that they will be serving throughout the week. All you have to do is go to a participating business and ask for the Restaurant Week special. As an added bonus 10% of sales will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of South Central Kansas. Last year the event helped to raise over $7,000 and this year organizers are confident that much more will be raised. For a complete list of participating restaurants and specialty stores as well as their menus check out this site:

http://wichitarestaurantweek.com/

Fresh Ground Beans are Ready to be Brewed

Fresh Ground Beans are Ready to be Brewed

This week I was treated to a special preview of Reverie Coffee Roasters courtesy of Go Wichita. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a coffee drinker and I know very little about the process of producing a good brew, but after my experience at Reverie that may change. This coffee shop opened up on Douglas just east of Grove in the summer of 2013 and has developed a passionate fan base one mug at a time. Calling Reverie a “coffee shop” seems a bit misleading though, it’s more like a craft coffee shop/classroom/community center. They roast their own beans that are sourced from all over the world, sell their own specialty blends, distribute coffee all over the state, and offer live music and other events throughout the week. For someone not familiar with the coffee world this is a perfect place to go and learn, from the eager employees, the steps that are involved in a top notch brew.

During restaurant week Reverie is offering a $10 Solo or a $20 Dopio experience. The Solo is designed for 1 person, while the Dopio is for 2. Both offer a complete coffee experience that includes a 2 oz shot of espresso, a handmade pour over featuring their newest Honduran coffee variety, sparkling mineral water for palate cleansing, and a locally baked pastry. The added bonus is getting to watch the barista make your cup of coffee. It was after this I understood these guys are like the Walter White of the coffee world. A large beaker was procured, beans were ground, words like “chemex” were thrown around, there was taring involved, and 10 minutes later we had an impressive cup of coffee.

The Perfect Brew

The Perfect Brew

We started our tasting out with the shot of espresso. The flavors were complex, much like a good beer. It started out with a strong roasted flavor with hints of tartness that gave way to an almost citrusy finish. Paired with a pumpkin spice pastry from Twisted Confections, additional flavor depth was reached by alternating bites of pastry and sips of espresso. The sparkling mineral water did an impressive job of resetting the palate between sips of espresso. The Honduran coffee was much smoother, yet proved to have just as complex of flavors. It was interesting to note how much the flavor profile changed as the coffee cooled. There was also a slight peat/earthy flavor to the finish of the Honduran beans. The cranberry scone was a nice complement as it was not overly sweet. It was clear, even to a rookie such as myself, that this coffee was top notch.

I found Reverie to be a very unique establishment that is welcoming to both hardcore caffeine addicts and relative newbies alike. The baristas are there to help you find your unique coffee of choice and educate you along the way. With Reverie, the slow coffee or third wave movement is alive and well in Wichita.

The Dopio Experience

The Dopio Experience

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

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

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“>

Jeanne’s Cafe-Wichita KS (Two Words: Coconut Pancakes)

12 Sep

In search of some late Sunday morning delight, we decided to try out a College Hill favorite, Jeanne’s Cafe. Jeanne’s is located at Douglas and Oliver just down the sidewalk from Watermark bookstore. This is a solid little neighborhood eatery that appears to have quite the regular following. Jeanne’s has your typical diner fare breakfast and lunch choices. Eggs, pancakes, french toast, burgers, sandwiches, and daily specials.

As we walked in, I noticed that Eggs Benny(Eggs Benedict) was gloriously displayed on  the chalkboard. I knew it was going to take something quite marvelous on their regular menu to sway me away from the perfect combination of eggs, muffins, ham, and hollandaise. Surprisingly enough I found some competition in the form of coconut pancakes. Typically I lean towards pure, unadulterated pancakes, but I just can’t pass up things with coconut in it. So I took the plunge and ordered up some hotcakes.  Steph opted for one of the popular favorites, French Toast.

The pancakes were good, but what really set them over the top was the shredded coconut that was grilled into the bottom of each one. It may sound like a strange combination, but it was most excellent. Steph’s thick cut French Toast was good as well.

If you are looking for a no frills cafe that offers some good home cooking Jeanne’s is your place. Who knows, you may try some of the those delightful pancakes and become a regular for life.

Jeanne's Cafe on Urbanspoon

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“>

The Good Egg and Doc Green’s- Wichita KS

11 Jan

We have been slacking on our blog lately so I decided to blog about our two recent Sunday lunches. What is funny about both of these places is that both have several locations in one other state and then have one or two locations in Wichita. The Good Egg has lots of locations in Arizona but Wichita is the only location outside of the Grand Canyon State. Doc Green’s has several locations in Georgia but only two in Wichita. So I have decided that we can blog about these two places since they are not chains outside of one state.

Starting with the Good Egg. The Good Egg is located in Bradley Fair close to 21st and Rock Road. It is known mainly for its breakfast items but also serves lunch as well. We have been many times with my family due to their love of  tasty a breakfast. I have tried several items including their chocolate chip pancakes (twice the size of your head so don’t order too many), the Yogurt and Granola (Yogi), and the Three Cheese Omelette. This past time I ordered the Omelette and was rather disappointed. The eggs were a bit overdone and a tad rubbery. I think I will stick with the pancakes or the Yogi from now on. The pancakes like I mentioned are absolutely huge and packed with chocolate chips so only order if you have a sweet craving. The Yogi is a nice light option but can also hit the sweet spot with the yogurt. Phil ordered the Huevos Rancheros. Since he didn’t even offer to let me try some, I am going to guess he enjoyed them. It must be said that the Beacon and the Anchor have a better breakfast but the Good Egg is closer to our church and house.

Today we went to Doc Green’s. They are located at the Waterfront close to 13th and Webb. They are known for their creative salads and healthy menu options. I tend to always order the Dr. Beeks with chicken tenders. It is a sweeter salad with feta cheese, craisins, and candied walnuts. The portions are huge and the salad is very filling. I was bad this time and also ordered a piece of carrot cake. The carrot cake was freshly made and pretty good. Not as good as from a bakery (Thinking of You comes to mind) but still tasty. I ate the whole piece. So here are two tasty options for lunch or brunch in Wichita.

The Anchor Pt. II- Wichita KS (Brunchtastic)

23 Dec

Over the weekend we had the pleasure of checking out The Anchor’s infamous brunch. There is only one word to describe this wonderful occasion: Brunchtastic. My spell checker believes this is not a word, but I assure you if we all start to use the word it will soon become part of the King’s English. The Anchor offers a brunch menu till noon on the weekends and perhaps even during the week. But who has brunch during the week? Maybe weird people who work at 4pm in the afternoon and can enjoy a nice brunch at 11am on a Tuesday.

Once I gazed at the menu I knew they weren’t messing around. This was one hardcore brunch. I was torn between several choices, but ultimately at my friend’s urging I went with the Eggs Bennie (or Eggs Benedict for those of you who aren’t real close to our boy Benedict). The Anchor’s twist on this dish was switching out a nice slice of pork loin for the typical ham. I’m going to allow this because they are switching out one pork product for another. Had they switched the ham with chicken there would have been one disgruntled patron on that morning.  Being an individual with a severe pancake dependency I also ordered one of those bad boys on the side. Surprise, surprise I was not disappointed with my order. The Eggs Bennie was damn good. The biscuits were fresh, the egg runny, and the pork, while a touch overdone was still moist. The pancake was exceptional as well. Almost as good as IHOP! Actually I would say that The Anchor and The Beacon have the best pancakes in the city. The pancake came with a delicious berry butter as well.

My better half and her ravenous sweet tooth went with some cream filled grilled toast thing. I can’t recall the name, but it had something to do with a Nun. Good Lord it was delicious, but only in small quantities. It packed a sweet punch like none other. And just in case you needed to finish off your arteries it came with a side of butter. We decided that perhaps it needed an egg or some fruit to augment the sweetness.

If you have not been to The Anchor for brunch you really need to go. Their menu is impressive and full of unique dishes to try. Now if you can’t handle The Anchor experience by all means go to Jimmy’s Egg, but remember you will have to live with that for the rest of your un-brunchtastic life.

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