Tag Archives: wichita

Bella Vita- Wichita KS(The Trojan Horse of Fine Dining)

4 Sep

This weekend we decided to give Bella Vita a second chance visit. On our first attempt we drove all the way over to the west side only to find they had locked the doors 3o minutes before their supposed closing time. Well after a few months of trying to push that out of our minds we were up for round two.

Bella Vita is located in an inauspicious strip mall on West  St. just north of Douglas. You could call it the Trojan Horse of fine dining in Wichita. From the outside it looks like you might be walking into some retro supper club where the Saturday night special is meatloaf with brown gravy. Once you get inside though you start to get the vibe that there is something big going down. We showed up with no reservations on a Friday night(the staff told us this was a no no) and luckily were able to get a table after a short wait. Beware: They like to keep the small waiting area rather cold, so make a note to bring a snuggie to prevent frostbite while waiting. The dining room at Bella Vita is small with only about 12-15 tables set up in two rooms.  The decor of the restaurant, while nice, felt a bit dated. Fortunately the food made you forget all about your surroundings, well almost.

After being seated, our waiter rattled off the specials of the day. Although we were considering the calamari as an appetizer, the stuffed eggplant special won us over. It consisted of thinly sliced eggplant that had been stuffed with rice and peas and then fried. It was served with a delightful marinara sauce that complimented the fried eggplant nicely. Most menu items are A La Carte, so we both ordered side house salads before our entrees. The house salad comes with a lovely sweet balsamic dressing and is plated very nicely with strings of carrot and beet adorning the top. There were many tempting entrees, but in the end I decided to try the Osso Buco Veal special, while Steph went with the Cannelloni Crepes. My veal came served with a nice tomato based sauce and pappardelle noodles. The veal was wonderfully tender with the rich flavor that is expected from this meat. Strangely when I offered Steph a bite of baby cow she was a bit put off, but I eventually coaxed her into trying it. Steph loved her savory crepes. They came with a tasty Black Angus meatsauce and were topped with a wonderfully creamy bechamel sauce. We both thought the crepes were as good as those we had in France.

Bella Vita is the real deal when it comes to fine dining in Wichita. The food is top notch and perfectly executed. Although the environment is a bit lacking, they are planning to remodel in the coming months. Our biggest knock on Bella Vita was the noise level. When you combine a small dining area with a boisterous  Friday night crowd, it can get a bit loud. At one point a woman who may have polished off a bottle of wine by herself was dropping F-bombs. Rather entertaining.

Bella Vita – http://www.bvbistro.com/index.htm

Bella Vita Bistro on Urbanspoon

Paleteria La Reyna – Wichita KS ( The Perfect One-Two Punch)

1 Jul

What happens when you combine great Mexican food with homemade Mexican ice cream and fruit pops all under one roof? You get Paleteria La Reyna of course. I feel rather embarrassed that I had never heard of this magical place till just a few weeks ago. Somehow it had slipped below my radar, but luckily that has been remedied. La Reyna is located at 29th and Arkansas, just south of the intersection. First off let me break down the translation of Paleteria La Reyna, so we are all on the same page. A paleta is “a Latin American ice pop, usually made from fruit.” So a paleteria is a place where these frozen treats are sold. La reyna translates as “the queen”. Put it all together and you have, Latin American ice pop shop of the queen. Sounds pretty damn fantastic doesn’t it? Now after doing some internet research La Reyna, not surprisingly, is known for their frozen treats. With this knowledge I was curious as to how their savory food would fare.

The Amazing Al Pastor Burrito with Chile Verde

On first glance La Reyna checked out. Traditional Mexican restaurant exterior, vibrant decorations and paintings inside, clean and decently sized dining area, Hispanic soap opera on TV, and festive music blaring from speakers. From what I could tell the soap opera was set during the mid 1800s in Old Mexico and revolved around the love life of General Santa Anna. As we walked up to the counter it was hard to focus on the lunch menu due to the large amount of ice pops and ice cream located in the freezers. I managed to pull myself away to order a pork burrito, while Steph ordered beef enchiladas, and my mother went with the chicken tacos. Their food menu is not expansive, but all the popular Mexican dishes are well represented. All the food is picked up at the counter so make sure you have a good line of sight between your table and the counter.

Our food came with an ample serving of chips and salsa, both homemade. The tortilla chips are a bit thicker than most places, which means you can shovel even more delicious salsa into your mouth. The salsa had just the right amount of kick to it with some cilantro to balance it out. Our food came out quickly and I immediately regretted all the chips I polished off because the portion sizes were huge. My burrito was good sized and came with a side of beans and rice. This pork burrito is one of the best I have had in Wichita. It ranks up there with El Paisa’s burrito. Inside this big boy were tender chunks of pork, avocado, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. A lovely chili verde sauce put the finishing touches on the burrito. The beans and rice were fine, but nothing to get excited about. Steph’s enchiladas were finished with chili verde as well and complimented the sweetness of the enchilada sauce nicely. My mom really enjoyed her chicken tacos which came with chunks of white meat chicken, lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, and sour cream. Although it was served in a fried shell it would be a lighter selection for those who find Mexican food too heavy.

Although all three of us were stuffed, there was no way we were leaving without trying their frozen delights. La Reyna makes all of their ice cream and paletas in-house and offers a wide variety of flavors. Each of us decided to go with a scoop of ice cream. I sampled tequila, Steph had pecan, and mom went with vanilla. All I have to say is that I have a new favorite ice cream place. The creaminess and distinct flavors are unrivaled by the likes of Cold Stone, Marble Slab, Spangles, and even Baskin Robbins. Their ice cream is also very affordable as three generous scoops only cost around $5.

Even if La Reyna did not serve ice cream I would still rank it as one of my top Mexican restaurants in Wichita. The fact that they also serve awesome frozen treats makes it very hard to compete with. If you are looking for so

The Visually Stunning Strawberries and Cream

The Visually Stunning Strawberries and Cream

me relief from this unrelenting heat swing by and check out La Reyna’s frozen treats after feasting on a burrito or two (just don’t go on Wednesday, as they are closed).

UPDATE: We continue to frequent Paleteria and love all of their food and desserts. If you are looking for a break from ice cream, try the raspas, a milk and shaved ice concoction that is awesome, or Steph’s favorite the Strawberries and Cream.

<a href=”http://Paleteria LA Reyna 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“>

Tanya’s Soup Kitchen – Wichita KS

4 Jun

In case you missed the biggest news in the Wichita dining scene since Spangles started selling “Wok n Roll Bowls” Tanya Tandoc re-opened her famous restaurant two months ago. Tanya has been a chef in Wichita for quite a while and her restaurant Tanya’s Soup Kitchen was a very popular place until it closed about 7 years ago. I never had a chance to visit the original place, but luckily she decided to give the Soup Kitchen another go and opened it up in April. The new location is at Douglas and Hydraulic right across the street from the Donut Whole(Another delightful place to check out).

As you walk into the Soup Kitchen you are met with a great open floor plan, large windows make up two sides of the restaurant, and a trendy design scheme. The whole space feels very warm and welcoming. The most unique design characteristic is the front counter whose facade is made up of vintage weathered doors and their knobs. The menu is very similar to the old place with a few salads, soup of course, several sandwiches, and a couple of desserts. The soup menu changes daily with 3 or 4 varieties offered. The restaurant was rather crowded when we visited a few days ago, which did not surprise me due to its popularity. The staff is very efficient and friendly though so we only had to wait a few minutes in line to order. I decided to try the “Junie” sandwich which is Tanya’s take on the Cuban sandwich. When you have roasted pork and ham on the same sandwich typically you can’t go wrong. For my side I went with the chicken curry soup with chutney. Steph tried the chicken salad sandwich with a side of tomato dill soup. We had heard through the grapevine that Tanya’s bread pudding was wonderful so we also ordered a piece of that.  Despite the crowd we only waited maybe 10 minutes for our lunch. As expected it was all delightful. The best part of my sandwich was the pepper and pickle infused mustard that was spread over the ham and roast pork. My soup was excellent. The curry gave it a good kick and the chutney provided the right amount of sweetness. Had it been about 50 degree cooler outside I could have probably eaten a giant bowl of this stuff. Steph’s chicken salad sandwich was equally impressive. The cherries and rye bread really set it apart from your typical chicken salad. The tomato dill soup was great as well. If you are a fan of tomato soup go try Tanya’s then sample Panera’s. Chances are you will never want to eat at Panera again. The crowning achievement of the Soup Kitchen was the bread pudding. After finishing  our sandwiches we were told the bread pudding would be just a few minutes because they were making a new batch of whipped cream. You can’t complain about having to wait for dessert when they are making homemade whipped cream! The pudding came out warm, with a nice cinnamon syrup and huge dallop of whipped cream on top. There is really nothing more to say than, “perfection”.

Tanya’s was everything we had hoped it would be and much more. Great food combined with a great atmosphere and waitstaff equals a memorable dining experience. Tanya has recently added some wine and beer options to the menu and has plans to offer live music on the patio this summer.  More reasons for you to check out this wonderful eatery gem right here in Wichita.

<a href="http://Tanya's Soup Kitchen on Urbanspoon“>

Loaf Off (supporting Make a Wish Foundation)

25 Feb

This coming up Saturday, February 26th, the Anchor will be playing host to a Loaf Off. It is a meatloaf competition from 11-1 that supports the Make a Wish Foundation. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children (5-12). So there are two reasons I am putting this on the blog. Number one is that events involving food and supporting charity are absolutely awesome. We are huge supporters of them when we can be. Second, Phil has entered the competition and will be making his delectable meatloaf. He has named it “The Smoked Trinity.” So we hope to see everyone on Saturday. Both of us will be at the chainfree table serving meatloaf and having fun raising money for an amazing cause.

http://www.wishks.org/index.php

La Galette- Wichita KS (The closest you will get to a Patisserie in Wichita)

12 Feb

Steph had yet another snow day this week, so we braved the elements to go to one of her favorite Wichita restaurants, La Galette. La Galette is located in the Delano part of town, which if you don’t know, is located on Douglas between Seneca and McLean. If you have never been to Delano, shame on you! It is so choc full of chainfree options that the Pizza Hut located in Delano appears as out of place as a strip club next to a church. La Galette is the peculiar marriage of a Lebanese cafe and a decadent French pastry shop. Don’t let the name fool you though, they serve no real French food besides their desserts and quiche. Although with all the French pictures on the wall they really try to trick you into believing that really is Notre Dame you are staring at.

When going to La Galette make sure you park in the rear of the establishment, because parking along Douglas is limited and treacherous. Upon entering through the back door you will find the walls brightly colored and covered with Frenchy stuff. All ordering is done at the counter and your food is brought to you. The small menu is a mix of traditional Lebanese food and some salads, soups, and sandwiches. This time around I ordered the Kibbe with hummus and a side of cream of tomato soup. Steph went with a nice spinach quiche and tomato soup. Even before we ordered our savory food Steph had made a beeline for the desert counter, oogling all their sexy confections. After much deliberation she decided we would share a half pound of hazlenut buttercream frosting wedged between two bagel-like pastry slices.

We both sat and stared at our wheel of hazelnutty goodness wondering if we would be able to control ourselves until we were finished with our main course. Luckily our food came out in a timely manner. My kibbe was very good, although for the price I thought it was a small portion. You could tell it was freshly made. The kibbe was accompanied by an ample amount of fresh pita bread and some hummus, which was fine. The cream of tomato soup tasted great on a day when temperatures struggled to get into the double digits. Another lunch dish we would recommend would be the potato pie. Steph enjoyed her homemade quiche. They make these ahead of time and throw them in the microwave to warm them up but the quiche are still quite tasty.

We both disposed of our lunches quickly so we could move onto the piece de resistance. I decided to play it cool and let Steph have the first crack just in case she slipped in a sugar coma. It was definitely rich but tasted great. Steph said that she enjoyed it but has tried several other desserts and prefers their mousse or cheesecakes.  Steph will guarantee anyone that you cannot go wrong with any of their desserts.

La Galette on Urbanspoon

Wichita Pizza Company-Wichita KS (Home of the Taco Pizza and Other Awesome Food)

5 Feb

We were able to convince my finicky family to try out a new place this past Sunday. Phil had recently seen a review of the Wichita Pizza Company by Denise Neil in the Wichita Eagle. She gave it a high rating so we were eager to try it out. The restaurant is located at Harry and Webb in a strip mall right next door to Dairy Queen. When you walk in the door there is a large counter/bar area that opens to the kitchen and the majority of the tables are around the corner. The place is also decked out with flat screen TV’s-possibly too many. I counted 7 TVs in the small eating area we were in. The place isn’t huge but we didn’t have a hard time getting enough seats for our 12 person party. We just sat at separate tables next to each other. Before we get caught up in all the pizza talk, I must add that they also serve salads, calzones, and hoagies.

Phil and I previewed the menu beforehand and I was determined to try their Taco Pizza. We also wanted to try a traditional pepperoni. So we of course ordered one of both. Let’s start with the pepperoni. It was fantastic. Not greasy, the crust had some great flavor, plenty of pepperonis and cheese. I would rank it right up there with AJ’s and Knolla’s. As for the taco pizza, it was delicious. It  started with a base layer of refried beans, then lettuce, hamburger, tomatoes, and shredded cheese. This beautiful concoction was topped off with crushed nacho cheese Doritos. The Doritos may sound weird, but they bring a great crunch to the pizza. You have to go and try one of these! The only disappointing part was the sauce they brought out. We both were pretty sure it was a bottle of sauce from Taco Hell. And sure enough when they brought out extra “salsa” for our take home box, the salsa was in tiny little plastic packages-not Taco Bell’s though but very similar. If they would just actually use a real salsa it would make things much better. They could run around the corner to Felipe’s and grab a few gallons to go.

I asked the question if this place is better than Knolla’s and I have to say that yes it absolutely is. I hope this place will get the love it deserves and stays open. For anyone living close to Harry and Webb(or anywhere in Wichita) you now have several fantastic chain free options to choose from for dinner or lunch.

<a href="http://Wichita Pizza Co. 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

The Bay Leaf- Wichita KS (closed)

28 Jan

With our groupon in hand Steph and I set out for the Bay Leaf last weekend. We had glanced at their menu and website before hand, so we thought we had an idea as to what we were getting ourselves into. The Bay Leaf is tucked in back of Clifton Square on east Douglas. Steph and I were thinking that this would be a nice, cozy place that one could enjoy a good meal at on a Friday night. When I saw that the special on Friday was $1.50 PBRs I started to wonder what was up. Upon entering the restaurant we were met with a strange layout. There was a small bar and counter in the front with the dining room (which was empty) located in the back. The dining room was small with only 6 or 7 tables set up, the large PA system and laptop made it seem even more cozy. The decor throughout the restaurant had a trendy classic feel to it. I don’t really know what that means, but I’m not an interior decorator so I have no idea how to describe what I saw. Anyway the decor contrasted sharply with the T-95(hard rock station) that was playing in the background, the daily special stapled on a pillar, and our waitress’ exposed navel area.

Steph tried to order the Papa Giorgio’s Pasta but the waitress informed us that they aren’t making it anymore because they are in the process of changing their menu. We were a bit annoyed by this. Either the waitress should have informed us that dish was unavailable before we ordered or they shouldn’t have it on the menu. Since the waitress seemed more concerned about her friends up front, this should not be shocking. So Steph ended up getting the chicken salad sandwich. It came out with a large scoop of chicken salad in the middle with slices of tomatoes and four slices of French bread. The chicken salad looked as though it had been put through a food processor which made the various parts difficult to taste. We weren’t too impressed with it.

The appetizer that we ordered was the best part of the meal. We tried the bierock bites, which as the name implies were nice little balls of bierock. You could tell they were freshly made and seasoned just right. I chose the Philly cheese steak with fries for my entree. My sandwich had a good combination of melted cheese and tender, lean beef. The peppers and onions were cooked just right and it was all served on a tasty hoagie bun. The waffle fries were nothing too exciting, but after looking at Steph’s side salad I was happy with my side choice.

I know this may sound like our worst review ever, but overall our experience was not awful. There were just several small things that snowballed. I hope that once the Bay Leaf completes their menu renovation things will get better. I just hope they don’t remove the bierock bites.  Unfortunately, or fortunately we finished our dinner before the two piece band started their set. From what I witnessed while they were setting up I wonder if anyone who witnessed the performance has regained their hearing. Between the bass amp that was wheeled in, the large PA system, and the fact they were going to play in room the size of my basement I can only wonder what in the world it sounded like.

Zaytun – Wichita KS

27 Dec

The other day I finally had the chance to eat at a restaurant that I have been wanting to try out. I was able to convince my sister and mother to come along for the journey. We went to a place called Zaytun which is located in Brittany Center at 21st and Woodlawn. The sign describes the restaurant as being Mediterranean, Indo, and Pak. During the lunch hours they only offer a buffet, which is what we were interested in trying out. The inside is clean and nicely decorated. Although there were only 10 tables set up for the lunch crowd it appears they have ample space in the back for parties and such.They also have a bar area with some large tea making apparatus. There was a TV hanging above the bar, but instead of showing some Indian soap opera or SportsCenter it just displayed various nature scenes. There was some interesting up tempo music emanating from the dining room that was a bit too loud for a lunch buffet. Perhaps they are just trying to induce some type of hypnotic state in which you cannot stop eating hummus and grape leaves.

As for the food itself, they offered several salad choices, hummus, pita, grape leaves, and various sauces for appetizers. There were about 5-10 main dishes that consisted of many rice dishes, stews, fried potatoes pancakes, and lamb kebabs. I tried to sample just about everything offered and I must say that I was pleased with what I had. The food was light and rather healthy (except for the potato pancakes of course, but you have to indulge yourself every once in a while). My favorite entrees were a rice, lentil, and raisin dish as well as the potato pancakes, and the lamb kebabs. The kebabs were really good and very popular with the patrons. At one point they ran out, but when the next batch was ready the owner or manager personally walked around the tables with a dish of fresh kebabs. I was impressed with that gesture. Most of these dishes I had never tried, including a number of delicious stews. I was impressed with how hearty some of the stews were for not containing any meat. Contrary to many people’s idea of Indian and Pakistani food, none of the dishes I had were that spicy. There was ample amounts of curry used, but it was by no means unbearable.

I was really impressed for the food at Zaytun and would encourage people to check it out. I think if you try out the buffet you will find something that you enjoy, even if that means piling your plate high with hummus and pitas.

Zaytun on Urbanspoon

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