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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

Fusa/Red 8 Chinese/Chill Gelato(Sushi and Gelato Under One Roof)

9 Apr

Lured in by a coupon offering free gelato with the purchase of a meal we tried the 3 in 1 eatery Fusa/Red 8 Chinese/Chill Gelato the other day. Fusa is located in a strip mall just north of Kellogg and Greenwich. Apparently its original location was in the Towne East Mall, but since I try to avoid that place at all costs, it’s new to me. The owner of Fusa is the same person who opened the iconic Kwan Court and luckily he brought back an old favorite to serve at Fusa. I speak of the honey crispy walnut shrimp, one of my all time favorite dishes.

The Famous Crispy Walnut Shrimp

Fusa is set up much like a mall food court, with several counters offering different cuisines. There is Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, sushi, pasta, burgers, and last but not least, Gelato to top it all off. If you have picky eaters in your group there should be something at Fusa that will satisfy their needs. Ordering was a no brainer for Steph and I, we went with the honey crispy walnut shrimp and the honey crispy walnut chicken. Both dishes came served atop a bed of steamed rice(fried rice available upon request), with plenty of shrimp/chicken. The honey walnut sauce, while not quite on par with the Kwan Court version, was still very good. Coupled with some decent fried shrimp and chicken it was a satisfying meal.

After finishing our lunch we walked to the back of the restaurant where the coolers of gelato( Italian ice cream) are located. Unfortunately there were many delicious flavors, so making a decision was rather difficult. I finally settled on pistachio and Steph was won over by the salted caramel. Our single serving cups were piled high with the creamy frozen treats. We were both pleased with our respective gelato, although it was not as good as Caffe Moderne’s.

A Heaping Cup of Caramel Gelato

If you are looking for a place where you can get your teriyaki chicken and quesadilla fix at the same time Fusa is a good option. Even if you’re not interested in multi-ethnic dining, the large gelato selection is worth checking out.

Chill Gelato * Fusa * Red 8 Chinese 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“>

Deli Bocco- Wichita KS

27 Aug

Due to its convenient location Steph and I tried out Deli Bocco this week. Deli Bocco has been open for about a year on Central, just west of Hillside. Now I would not consider this area part of College Hill, but according to their website it is. Although this may be a moot point,  I’m sure there are some people up there on Belmont street who would get a bit riled up if they knew such liberties were being taken with the established imaginary boundaries of their beloved College Hill neighborhood. But I’m just here to review a restaurant, so what do I know?

Bocco is a small place with an even smaller parking lot, so don’t expect to roll up in here with your Hummer. They have a simple dining area with table cloths made of bolts of fabric. There is also some eclectic original artwork scattered about the area, some of which appears to be for sale. One corner of the dining area is devoted to Native American and Western artwork and also contains various cookbooks. The menu consists of the three S’s of deli fare: Salads, soups, and sandwiches. They also have a marker board with several daily specials as well as the current homemade ice cream flavors. Just to clarify things, even though this is called a deli, don’t go in expecting to buy potato salad and prosciutto. They do not sell any deli items to the public.

I went with the BLT sandwich with a side salad, while Steph opted for the roast beef with tomato bisque. My BLT was very good and for the price it was a decent amount of food. The sweet pepper bacon and foccacia bread really made the sandwich. As for the side salad, I’m pretty sure they forgot the balsamic dressing. Luckily the lettuce was fresh and the tomatoes had been lightly salted, so I was able to get by. Steph and I both enjoyed the roast beef sandwich as well. It came all jazzed up with caramelized onions, sharp cheddar, and more delightful foccacia bread. The tomato bisque soup was fine, although probably not as good as Tanya’s. Even though they are known for their tiramisu dessert, we just went with a good old fashioned chocolate chip cookie.

So the next time you are close to the “College Hill Neighborhood”  and are just about to pull into Panera, remember you have another option. Although they may not have an extensive menu, they do their food right and that is the most important thing.

http://www.360wichita.com/Restaurants/BoccoDeli.html

Bocco Deli on Urbanspoon

Lotus Leaf Cafe(Fresh, Mostly Healthy Foods Here)

26 Apr

*EDIT*

4/17/12: So apparently they have added some crepes back onto the menu at Lotus Leaf, including a sweet potato crepe.

3/8/12: From what I hear it sounds like Lotus Leaf will take crepes off its menu in the near future, so this review is essentially obsolete. I find it strange that crepes are being removed from the menu, especially since they served a wonderful chocolate and orange dessert crepe.  Its hard to find good crepes in this city.

After our recent trip to Paris, Phil and I now consider ourselves quite the experts on crepes. Since taking off from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, I have been craving another one. So we decided to try out Lotus Leaf Cafe and Creperie in the Delano district. Lotus Leaf promotes itself has a healthy eating establishment and this is easy to see by their limited menu and lack of soft drinks. Yes, for the diet coke addicts out there, you will simply have to have tea (which they have lots of) or water. However, there are some guilty pleasures on the menu such as chocolate crepes. The inside of Lotus Leaf is small and cozy with a trendy modern feel to it. The walls are adorned with artwork for sale by local artists and on each table are various herb plants.

As a shock to everyone, we both went with crepes. I decided on the seafood crepe and Phil ordered the classic crepes Florentine. The seafood crepes was described as having shrimp, crab, scallops, and wild mushrooms. I was worried that I would have to pick out the mushrooms in the crepe but the fear was unfounded since I’m pretty sure there weren’t any in there. The actual crepe was great, reminded me quite a bit of the ones in Paris. The problem with the crepe was the filling. Not only could I not find a single mushroom, but none of the ingredients mentioned above. It seemed like they took all of the parts and blended them together and threw them in a crepe, covered it in cheese, and called it good. The crepe itself did not taste bad, in fact it was pretty good. But I was disappointed and hoping for at least a chunk of one of the sea creatures mentioned. Phil was equally unimpressed with trying to find the ingredients of his crepe as well. Needless to say, at this point my Paris blues returned because I was becoming convinced that I would have to wait until my next trip to Paris for a good crepe. The sides that came with our crepes were good. Phil had a vegetable couscous that was very well done and I had a simple salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Besides the blended crepe filling letdown, the portions were rather small for the price. We both left still feeling hungry.

But there was a saving grace at the Lotus Leaf. Now we said that they do have some guilty pleasures here including chocolate crepes. Of course we ordered the chocolate crepe people! And it was awesome! The crepe itself was chocolate flavored, had melted chocolate and bits of orange throughout, and fresh fruit on top. This was the crepe I had been craving since Paris. We both decided Lotus Leaf would be worth a second visit, but for dessert only.

Lotus Leaf Cafe & Creperie on Urbanspoon

Fizz Burgers and Bottles – Wichita, KS

1 Feb

On Saturday night, we were able to drag Phil’s parents away from their new puppy for a few hours. We decided to go to Fizz Burgers and Bottles based on a recommendation from a co-worker of mine. Fizz is located at 37th and Rock Road in Siena Plaza. If you know where Orange Leaf is, it is just on the opposite end of the plaza. When you walk in you see the cozy seating area, a bar, and plenty of bright colors. We were told they were having table service that night, but they are set up to take orders at the counter so it may just depend on how busy they are. Our waitress let us know that besides burgers, they are known  for the number of drinks they serve in bottles. We were expecting to see an overwhelming 12 page beer list, but were instead met with list of 15 or so. They have the usual domestics, some Boulevard and other micro brew offerings, and several import bottles. Although the selection wasn’t quite as unique as I was hoping for, it was decent for a small restaurant.   They also have several types of wines to order (most are bottle only) and some specialty bottled sodas. One thing I had never seen before at a burger place was the $100 bottle of wine that they were offering on the menu. I hope they didn’t buy a case of that wine, because its probably not going to be a big seller.

Since the rest of their name includes the word burger all four of us decided to order one. They have 5 burgers on their menu and the option to build your own as well. You also have the choice of ordering a quarter pound or half pound burger. I decided to go with a quarter pound House Burger. The burger is made with Roasted Garlic Sauce, Garlic Dill Pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes if you eat those. The burger was great. Nice and juicy and a thick patty. I only wish I had ordered cheese with it. A piece of provolone would have made it fantastic. I also went with an order of the sweet potato fries. The waitress suggested their pecan dip. I wasn’t too sure about this combination. We found out that the dip was originally meant as a salad dressing and I tend to think they should continue to use it that way. It had an interesting taste and we found out there was buttermilk which would explain the odd taste. Needless to say, I stole quite a few of Phil’s regular fries.

Phil went with the 1/4 lb bacon cheeseburger with spicy mustard. When ordering this burger make sure that you ask for whatever garnishes you want because it is served with no veggies. The burger was juicy and I actually spotted some pink in the middle! Hooray, another place that knows how to make a burger better than 5 Guys.  The cheese and bacon were icing on the cake of this delicious beefy patty.  I went with the regular fries, which were nice and thick.It would have been better had they added some more seasoning to the fries, but ketchup made up for that. The only other issue I had was the fact that the burgers do not come with fries, you must order them separately. Phil’s parents ordered the Spicy and the Swiss Mushroom. Both thoroughly enjoyed their burgers as well.

We both really enjoyed Fizz and would add it to the list of places to get a good burger in town. You cannot go wrong with a place that serves good beer and good burgers, so go and check it out.

Fizz Burgers and Bottles on Urbanspoon

College Hill Deli and Catering- Wichita KS (Home of the Super Waitress)

22 Jan

Since Steph had yet another day off from work, we decided to try out College Hill Deli and Catering on MLK day. This establishment is located on east Douglas about 150 feet from Dolci and Joe’s Restaurant. It feels very strange for these two somewhat similar restaurants to be located so close to each other. As you step out of your car it’s as if there is a battle being waged for your patronage. I’m not certain, but I suspect that after hours there is a violent turf war that breaks out between the rival eateries. There is a tension in the air that one can sense just driving down the street.

Anyway who cares about my strange delusions when there is food to be blogged about. The inside of College Hill Deli is small and warm. We were initially seated at the largest table in the place since all the other tables were occupied. The large table happens to be located under the main heat vent for the dining area and was it ever roasty toasty. It made made my grandparents house feel like Siberia on a cold day. Luckily we were able to move to a smaller table within a few minutes. After perusing the menu I felt like I had been to this place before. The menu was full of Lebanese/Mediterranean inspired dishes and could have probably passed for Bella Luna’s menu. Not to say that is a bad thing, but really how many places in Wichita need to serve hummus? Are garbanzo beans really cheap around here or something? Needless to say, being the Hummus addicts we are a plate was quickly ordered. It was fine hummus served with some nice soft pita and diced tomatoes. The tomatoes were an addition that I had not encountered with hummus before, but they seemed to work out just fine. It was about this time we realized that that waitress was handling every table in the place. Considering there were about 8 tables we were rather impressed.  More on this later. I decided to take the plunge and order the hamburger with fries because that is how I roll. Upon laying eyes on my burger I was rather impressed. It had the appearance of an actual burger( You know one of those things where there is a nice half inch to inch thick slab of meat wedged between two bread buns). It is something that some of these local chains don’t quite seem to understand. Yes I’m calling you out Five Guys and your stupid thin patties! So the burger was solid and actually had a bit of pink in the middle of it. All for around $7. Amazing. The fries were fine, nothing to write home about though.  Steph ordered the quiche with a fattoush salad. Today’s quiche was broccoli and cheese. It was tasty and nice and warm. La Galette’s is slightly better, but we can’t always make it downtown. The salad was fine and had the strong dressing but it wasn’t anything different form what we have had before. At one point while eating I looked up and noticed our waitress walking down the sidewalk. I quickly wondered  if she knew something we did not but as it turned out she was taking care of a delivery order down the block. She did this all while still waiting on all the tables. I’m not sure who the waitress was, but she deserves a medal for that performance.

College Hill Deli may not have the most interesting menu, but it appears they at least make good food. So that should count for something. I do hope that they get that poor waitress some help because even a Super Waitress needs some R and R.

College Hill Deli and Catering on Urbanspoon

TJ’s Burger House- Wichita KS

17 Jan

After a rough two snow days in a row, on Friday I had meetings all day and was able to go to lunch with some co-workers. We decided on TJ’s Burger House. TJ’s has two locations in Wichita now. The original is located on Douglas in the Delano District and the newly opened second location is at Harry and Webb. Today we went to the new one since it is much closer to school. The inside of the restaurant is decorated similar to a diner with large booths and fun 50′s paraphernalia on the walls. It was absolutely freezing inside so make sure to bundle up. I went with a cheeseburger because the name of the place is TJ’s BURGER House and apparently they serve burgers. There are seven different burgers on the menu so you can be a bit more adventurous if you want. The burgers are huge, so only order a double if you are going to be an offensive lineman in tomorrow’s game. The burger was fine, nothing spectacular or fancy but you could also tell that it was hand pattied and freshly made. I enjoyed the burger and would order it again. I also split a half order of fries with a co-worker.  Notice we split a half order of fries. The fries seemed like they are fried in the same batter as onion rings. They were tasty. My co-worker also asked for their homemade spicy mustard for her fries. She let me try some and it was awesome. So I would encourage ordering some of their spicy mustard. I also ordered a butterscotch milkshake. It was great. They brought it out in the old-fashioned sundae glass with a huge amount of whipped cream and a cherry on top. The shake was a great blend of ice cream and just the right amount of butterscotch.

Now I have to say that unfortunately for some of my co-workers they are trying to watch their weight and we of course chose a very healthy eating establishment. Most of them ordered salads. We found out that TJ’s makes all of their own dressings and the salads were absolutely huge as well. However, I heard several “oh my goodness” and “this is wonderful” so I would assume that they enjoyed them. So try out TJ’s Burger House for some traditional American fare and make sure to enjoy a milkshake in the absolutely freezing restaurant with snow outside.

T J's Burger House East 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.

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