Twizted Confections

18 May

For several years I have lived in close proximity to Twizted Confections and never happened to stop by. I had sampled their cakes and cookies a number of times, but was missing out on much more.

Italian Hoagie

Italian Hoagie

Twizted Confections is located at Woodlawn and Central, near Il Primo Cafe, and is the place for anyone with a sweet tooth as well as those who enjoy a bierock. While their main business are sweets, they also offer some savory sandwiches and bierocks. In fact they are quite proud of their bierocks judging by the sign outside and the bierock superimposed upon a large reproduction of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam”. There are several tables inside for dining in, but it appears that most people grab food to go.

The savory menu is short and consists of several sandwiches, bierocks, and quiche as well as sides that include coleslaw and garlic slaw. The sweet menu is expansive and includes pies, cookies, cakes, baklava, cupcakes,  and muffins. They typically have a wide selection available daily, but if you are really craving a certain type of pie, ordering ahead is your best bet. They also offer a variety of fresh baked breads.

The Cold Reuben

The Cold Reuben

On our first visit we tried two of their sandwiches, an Italian Hoagie and a Reuben, as well as sides of the garlic coleslaw. The Italian Hoagie featured ham, salami, cheese, tomato, onions, and Italian dressing on a homemade crusty roll. This was a pretty good sandwich, although I could have done with less dressing. The Reuben was rather disappointing on the other hand. A proper Reuben needs to come out hot so the corned beef can meld with the cheese and sauerkraut. Unfortunately ours came out mostly cold and the bun lacked the toasty goodness it needed. This sandwich has potential because the rye bread was wonderful, they just need to add more beef and make sure it comes out warm. The garlic slaw had a nice balance of garlicy sweetness that made it a good side.

Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake

Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake

Feeling that our Twizted experience was less than complete we went back another time to load up on bierocks and sweets, since reviewing a bakery without trying any of the dessert options is unacceptable. We ordered bierocks to go as well as a variety of cookies, a slice of their State Fair winning carrot cake, a brownie, and a slice of peanut butter pie.

Bierock Cross Section

Bierock Cross Section

After a quick zap in the microwave, the good sized bierocks were ready to enjoy. And enjoy we did. The roll itself was soft and flavorful and stuffed with plenty of meat and cabbage. The filling was well seasoned, although the meat was a little overcooked. All in all I would rank this bierock as one of the better ones in town. The sweet treats did not disappoint either. Each of the cookies we sampled were good, but the

Delicious PB Pie

Delicious PB Pie

brownie, cake, and pie each proved to be much better. The brownie was very soft, chocolatey, and had a pasty-like crust on it. It was quickly devoured by the kids in our group. The carrot cake was everything you could possibly want in a carrot cake. The cake itself was moist and full of cinnamon spice goodness, while the frosting was an excellent cream cheese variety. The peanut butter pie was the most decadent and delicious of the desserts. The rich pie had a base layer of peanut butter cream, followed by a layer of whipped cream, and topped off with a nice chunk of peanut butter candy.

Twizted Confections is first and foremost a dessert place. If you are looking for a specialty pie or cake this is the place to check out. While the bierocks were good, the rest of their savory options were average in my opinion.

 

Twizted Confections on Urbanspoon

Churn and Burn

1 May

Sadly, there are a shortage of places to enjoy the deliciousness of homemade ice cream in Wichita. Most options in town are chain places or ones that just sell industrially made ice cream. Most of this frozen dessert is fine, but if I am going to spend money on it, I want some of the good stuff. The newest addition to the local ice cream movement, Churn and Burn, adds a most unique element to the frozen dessert parlor, liquid nitrogen.

Will Approves of the Cookie Monster

Will Approves of the Cookie Monster

Churn and Burn is located on Oliver, just south of Kellogg, next to the giant Kwik Shop. There is not much room inside the shop and on a busy night it is downright cramped. Somehow I was able to successfully navigate the crowd, while lugging a baby carrier, without smacking any small child’s ice cream out of their hand. The owners scored some nice memorabilia from Joyland and it is proudly displayed throughout the shop.

The Nutty Professor

The Nutty Professor

What sets Churn and Burn apart from other ice cream places in town is their method. They use super cooled liquid nitrogen to flash freeze their cream instead of the slower mixing method. This provides for a nice show while you are waiting for your order. The ice cream options at Churn and Burn are plentiful, besides a number a listed combinations, you can customize your own with nuts, candies, syrups, and such. The base flavors that are made to order are vanilla, chocolate, soy milk, and coconut milk, but they also offer several pre-made flavors including strawberry balsamic, green tea, and honey. For those looking for a sugar and caffeine blast they offer decadent ice cream and coffee/espresso combinations. And if you just need coffee they have you covered with an array of selections.

The suggested ice cream combinations make it really tough decide what to get. How do you decide between the Mexican Chocolate, with cinnamon, honey, and chocolate sauce, and the Magic Cookie with coconut and chocolate covered graham crackers?! Obviously multiple visits will be needed to fully appreciate the breadth of the menu. Luckily our 3-year-old saw some pre-made Cookie Monster blue ice cream so that became the first selection, in a waffle cone of course. Steph and I then decided on the Nutty Professor, a vanilla ice cream and cold brew coffee mashup with pecans, caramel sauce, and homemade whipped cream.

Mmmmm  COOKIES!

Mmmmm COOKIES!

Due to volume of orders and the fact that most are made to order, we did have to wait several minutes for our ice cream, but it was well worth it. The Cookie Monster featured a blue-tinted vanilla base with small chunks of cookies mixed in. Although fairly basic it had good flavor and smooth consistency. The homemade waffle cone really helped to set this ice cream apart. The cones have a wonderful vanilla flavor and just the right texture. You will not find a better one in town. The Nutty Professor proved to be a good balance of flavors that still allowed the ice cream to be front and center. The coffee and caramel sauce provided nice complementary flavors instead of overwhelming the tasty vanilla base.The caffeine laden drink was just what a couple of tired parents needed on a Saturday evening.

The only knock I have on Churn and Burn’s ice cream is that it lacks the rich creaminess that I prefer. I believe this is simply just a by-product of the process by which they make their ice cream. This minor flaw certainly won’t stop me from making several trips there this spring and summer though. The unique concept and emphasis on made to order desserts makes Churn and Burn one of the top ice cream parlors in town.

Churn & Burn on Urbanspoon

http://www.churnandburnicecream.com/

Ming’s Cantonese Restaurant

17 Apr

The south side of Wichita often gets overlooked when it comes to decent dining options, but the truth is there are a number a small establishments that can hold their own against any place in town.  Ming’s Cantonese Restaurant, located on Seneca between Harry and Pawnee, is one such example. This well established Chinese restaurant has a devoted following and the food to back it up.

The first thing you notice about Ming’s is the outstanding 50s-Vegas-style yellow sign that grabs passerby’s attention as they roll down Seneca looking for sustenance. Inside you will find a pretty classic American Chinese design motif, complete with the Chinese Zodiac calendar place mats that are always good for explaining why your relationships don’t work out. Clearly you should have married that Ox you dated for 5 years. The dining room has plenty of seating both for small and large groups.

Top Notch Lo Mein with Foil Chicken

Top Notch Lo Mein with Foil Chicken

The menu at Mings is extensive, but not overwhelming. Every American Chinese stir fry dish that you have come to love is offered, including several varieties of Lo Mein, Chow Mein, Egg Foo Young, Sweet and Sour(insert desired protein), and Kung Pao. Most dishes are also offered on a lunch menu and there are family style options as well.

After some extensive internet research, I decided to go with the Chicken Lo Mein. This was a big leap of faith for me because typically I am not a big Lo Mein fan. I find most versions to be fairly unsexy with their lack of flavor and veggies. The lunch version comes with fried rice and a choice of appetizer, so I went with the intriguing ‘foil chicken’, hoping that I hadn’t just ordered something that contained shards of aluminum. The Honey Glazed Shrimp caught Steph’s attention mainly because she was hoping it would be similar to Kwan Court’s famous Honey Walnut Shrimp that we both still pine for. She chose crab rangoon for her appetizer.

Honey Shrimp

Honey Shrimp

Once our food arrived I was happy to see that the foil chicken was actually just white meat chicken pieces wrapped in foil packets. There was a teriyaki-style sauce on the chicken that made it tasty. For a lunch serving, there were ample portions of fried rice and Lo Mein on my plate. The fried rice was certainly freshly made, but overall I thought it was just average in taste. The Lo Mein on the other hand was very good, mainly because of the noodles. Typically the rice noodles used for Lo Mein are sticky and overcooked, but the Ming’s variety were cooked to slightly chewy al dentesque perfection. The brown sauce was a savory shot of MSG that proved to be much better than at other restaurants. There was a good amount of chicken pieces, however I would have liked a little more veggie action. The Honey Glazed Shrimp will not win an award for presentation as the thick glaze sat awkwardly upon the bed of fried shrimp, but taste wise it was excellent. After mixing the glaze together with the shrimp and rice we were left with a sweet and delicious combination that faintly resembled our Kwan Court memories. The crab rangoon were an unexpected delight as well. Instead of being overly sweet and laden with cream cheese, these were savory with more crab(probably imitation) flavor.

Ming’s proved to be a solid south side restaurant that is certainly worth the drive if you don’t live in the area. Their fast and friendly service along with ample menu options makes it one of the better Americanized Chinese joints in town.

Ming's Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

 

 

 

 

 

Mead’s Corner

26 Mar

Steph and I recently started drinking coffee on a somewhat regular basis, so we figured it would be good to review a coffeehouse. There is an ever growing list of places to get a good cup of coffee in Wichita, but since we were looking for some lunch as well we went with Mead’s Corner, located at Douglas and Emporia. Mead’s is one of those places I have always driven by, yet never visited. Why I kept passing up a place that advertises gelato on their exterior is beyond me.

Ham and Cheese Panini with House Salad

Ham and Cheese Panini with House Salad

Mead’s Corner is a unique establishment because it is owned by the First United Methodist Church and their profits are given to charities. Mead’s religious affiliation is kept fairly low-key in the restaurant, so those who do not feel like being evangelized to can visit without any reservations.

Beverages, namely coffee, are the main menu attractions at Mead’s, but they also serve some pastries, paninis, salads, a hearty breakfast burrito, and gelato. The coffee is fair trade, high quality stuff that is priced very reasonably compared to other places.

On our visit I tried a cappucino and a ham and cheese panini, while Steph ordered a hazelnut latte and turkey panini. Both of our coffees were good and only cost around $3 each for 12 oz sizes.  My ham and cheese panini was basic, but tasty. There was a decent amount of ham and the bread was grilled to panini perfection. My only complaint was that the sandwich came with basic yellow mustard. I think perhaps a Dijion mustard or some whole grain variety would have added a better flavor profile. Steph’s turkey panini came with tomatoes and a balsamic dressing. Again it was nothing fancy, but made for a fine lunch. We both had house salads with our meals, which featured a spring mix, craisins, croutons, and the tasty balsamic house dressing.

Heaping Cup of Gelato

Heaping Cup of Gelato

After finishing off our lunch we surveyed the many flavors of gelato trying to decide what to order. Since we were only able to narrow it down to coconut and mocha, a split dish was ordered. The generous serving of gelato was delicious. It seems that gelato flavors are usually more intense than regular ice cream and these varieties proved that true.

Mead’s Corner has something for just about everyone, whether you need a good cup of coffee, a quick and satisfying lunch, or a gelato fix. And with profits going to charitable causes, it a good place to spend your money.

 

Meddys

18 Feb

Opening a new Mediterranean/Lebanese restaurant is a brave endeavour in a town that is supersaturated with hummus and shawarma. The folks here know how they like their falafel and fattoush so you better be able to do it right and maybe offer a new twist. And that is exactly what the recently opened Meddys has done at Harry and Rock Road.

Delightful Falafel Wrap

Delightful Falafel Wrap

Meddys offers a quick service concept not seen in the local Mediterranean dining scene before. Yes, it’s the closest thing to drive thru hummus you will find and probably some of the best fast food around. The menu has been kept fairly simple to expedite the process, but all of the popular Mediterranean dishes are featured. There are shawarma, falafel, kefta, salmon, and vegetarian wraps for the main dishes. Fattoush salad, hummus, eggplant, and tomato soup are a few of the sides offered. The interior has plenty of seating and one of those fancy touch screen pop machines where you can spend 5 minutes getting your drink.

On our visit we opted to try a beef shawarma sandwich, a falafel sandwich, and a cup of tomato soup. We also ordered the grilled chicken kids meal for our son. The service was quick and after only a short wait all our food had been delivered. The beef shawarma was a flavorful offering that featured a nice combination of ingredients. Besides the tender and well seasoned beef, the wrap had marinated onions, tomatoes, and a liberal amount of tahini sauce. The falafel wrap proved to be another delightful choice. The falafel, which are fried patties of ground garbonzos, lentils. and

Beef Shawarma

Beef Shawarma

seasonings, could have easily been eaten on its own, but in wrap form it was even better. It featured pickled turnips, fresh parsley, tomatoes, and tahini sauce. Meddys offers several house made sauces next to the drink machine to utilize on your food. They include a sriracha mayo, garlic sauce, and more tahini sauce. My favorite was the sriracha mayo, but our wraps were tasty enough to not require much saucing. The tomato

Decadent Tomato Bisque

Decadent Tomato Bisque

bisque was a decadent bowl of goodness. With that much heavy cream it’s hard to go wrong. As far as kids meals go, the grilled chicken kabobs and fries were pretty good despite the chicken being dry. Our son actually ate a few pieces of the well seasoned meat.

Meddys seems to have found a good niche that was missing from the Wichita dining scene. They are able to serve up fast and flavorful ethnic meals that provide a change of pace from other restaurants.

Meddys on Urbanspoon

Lou’s Charcuteria

30 Jan

They had me a Charcuterie. I admit I have an affinity for salted and cured meats, or as the French call it, charcuterie. Proper charcuterie is an art  form that dates back to the very beginnings of civilization. Unfortunately due to FDA/USDA regulations it is tough to find much in the way of traditional dry cured meats here in the US, thus not many restaurants offer good charcuterie menu options. Luckily Wichita has added two restaurants in the past several months that offer some fairly legitimate charcuterie. The newest of those is Lou’s Charcuteria.

Succulent Roast Pork

Succulent Roast Pork

Lou’s is located in the shadow of Intrust Bank Arena directly to the north on Commerce street.  This makes getting to the restaurant and finding parking somewhat tricky, especially when there is an event at IBA. The interior at Lou’s is quite impressive, although as I understand not much was changed from the previous tenets, Walkers Bar and Grill. Ample use of wood gives it a warm feel and a tall table in the center makes it a good place for mingling over appetizers and drinks. There was also a lovely picture of a pig on the wall and I strongly approve of pig based decor.

Our visit here was later in the evening and a KU game just happened to be winding down. For that reason we had to endure Brent Musburger blaring over the speaker system at a ridiculously loud level. After the game I figured there might be a respite in the noise level, but they just turned on a Pandora station although not as loud. I assume the music isn’t typically that loud and will just write it off as a consequence of dining at 10 pm on a Saturday.

Plate Full O' Charc

Plate Full O’ Charc

They were running a tapas bar that night, but unfortunately were in the process of shutting it down so our waitress suggested ordering off the menu. Like any good beer snob I had to peruse the drink menu first of all and was pleased to find a nice offering of beers both on tap and bottled. As far as the food menu goes, it is short and sweet. They have several sandwiches to choose from as well as two charcuterie board options. To get the best of both worlds we went with their most popular sandwich, the Venezuelan roasted pork and a charcuterie board.

The roasted pork sandwich featured pork shoulder, chimichurri sauce, cojita cheese, and garlic aioli on a nice crusty baguette.  The pork was tender and succulent with mild seasoning, but it seemed like the aioli dominated too much. I would have liked more chimichurri sauce to bring out additional flavors. The chips that were served with the sandwich were nothing special, but edible. The charcuterie board was an impressive array of bread, crackers, cured meats, pickled vegetables, olives, and various sauces. The meats were a mix of fresh, wet cured, and dry cured pork based sausages and ham. Both hams are made in-house and were quite good. The hard cured chorizo was a delightful melding of meat and fat. The only disappointment was the slightly overcooked fresh sausage. The homemade coarse mustard went very well with the meats as did the pickled onion and peppers. The deviled eggs were a nice touch and much better than most. Oddly the only thing missing from the plate was a selection cheeses, which are usually a staple of charcuterie boards. Perhaps the chef was all cheesed out after a long shift.

I was impressed with the quality and uniqueness of the food at Lou’s. Although the menu is small it allows them to focus on putting out good products. The atmosphere is perfect for an evening out with a large group or pre-partying before the next [insert any country artist] show at The IBA. I hope that Lou’s location won’t be a detriment and that Wichitans will flock there for their delicious cured meats.

 

 

 

Auntie Mae’s Cafe East

12 Jan

I find that American diner food can be really hit or miss. Since most of the dishes served at these places are simple comfort foods it all comes down to how they are prepared and presented that really makes a difference between a mediocre meal and a delightful taste of Americana.

Egg Salad with Chicken

Egg Salad with Chicken Sandwich

Auntie Mae’s Cafe, originally opened up at Central and Tyler several years ago and recently they expanded to an eastside location tucked away on the northeast corner of Harry and Webb. The new location was the home of a previous diner, so not many changes were needed outside or in. The interior is done up in classic 50s style with vinyl red and white booths. Assorted memorabilia adorn the walls reminding you of the good ole days. The only thing that seems out of place are the flat screen TVs, one of which appeared to play a continuous loop of  Auntie Mae’s commercials, just in case you needed further reinforcement to continue your dining experience here.

The menu at Auntie Mae’s is a greatest hits of classic diner food. There are breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes from pancakes to burgers to chicken fried steak. They even sneaked a few salads onto the menu for those looking for something a bit lighter. Although their specialties are a cinnamon roll the size of a small child and chicken fried steak, after our holiday feasting we were looking for something not quite as heavy on our visit. They had several intriguing sandwiches and we ending up ordering a chicken salad sandwich and Michael’s Caramel Glazed Turkey.

Caramel Glazed Turkey Sandwich

Caramel Glazed Turkey Sandwich

The restaurant appeared to be moderately busy on this particular Sunday afternoon, but we ended up waiting nearly 45 minutes for our food to appear. Steph reported that the chicken salad was more like egg salad with some chicken mixed in. There was also a lack of grapes in the salad, which were mentioned on the menu description. While the sandwich wasn’t a total disaster, it wasn’t anything we would want to order again. My caramel glazed turkey sandwich was underwhelming as well. It was just chopped turkey with some shredded cheese and a small bit of caramelized onion. The single lettuce leaf and raw white onion on the side was a feeble attempt at a garnish I guess. The turkey was moist and flavorful, but it was not enough to save this sandwich from mediocrity. We both received large baskets of fries with our sandwiches, but for some reason only half of them were crispy. Those that were properly cooked were nice thick cut fries. Our sons mac and cheese looked and tasted very similar to something that came out of a box. One person in our group did order the chicken fried steak and reported that it was good. The portion sizes are large at Auntie Mae’s so there will be plenty of food to go around.

The long wait time and mediocre food were quite disappointing, but perhaps were ordered the wrong items. Maybe we needed to get a burger, or pancakes or one of the colossal cinnamon rolls, but after our first experience it will be hard to go back anytime soon. They did help us recover a toy that had fallen between the booths, so they get some points for customer service.

 

Auntie Mae's Cafe East on Urbanspoon

Dempsey’s Burger Pub

28 Dec

Dempsey’s Burger Pub is Wichita’s newest addition to the upscale hamburger restaurant category. For those familiar with Lawrence, Dempsey’s is an offshoot of the popular restaurant of the same name there. The Wichita location is part of the compact Clifton Square shopping center, which means parking can be tricky during peak hours.

Like most of the buildings in Clifton Square, Dempsey’s is small, but does offer two levels of dining. The open kitchen is located on the top level with a few tables, while the bar is downstairs with additional seating.

Mushroom Swiss Burger with Sweet Potato Fries

Mushroom Swiss Burger with Sweet Potato Fries

The menu features all things burgers and not just ones made out of beef. Besides offering mushroom swiss, fried egg, or pepper hamburgers, there is salmon, portabella mushroom, and even a quinoa patty that sounded like it wouldn’t be too bad. No upscale burger joint would be complete without the mandatory Kobe beef burger of which Dempsey’s has two. In my opinion “Kobe beef” is just a reason to add another dollar or two to the price. It’s not real Kobe beef from Japan and probably just comes from US raised Wagyu cattle, so there is really not going to be a huge taste difference especially in ground form. French fries are sold separately from the burgers and come with your choice of several different house made dipping sauces. Since nothing goes better with a hamburger than a cold beer, Dempsey’s offers a very good selection of craft beers both on tap and in bottles.

We visited during a fairly busy lunch time crowd, but were promptly seated. Unfortunately we were forgotten for  about ten minutes before a waitress came over to take our order. There seemed to be quite a bit of chaos amongst the servers and staff. I noticed several orders that were sent back to the kitchen. We had plenty of time to decide on what we wanted to eat and drink. I went with the mushroom swiss, while my mom had the bleu burger. We also got a side order of sweet potato fries. As for beer, I went with Warbeard Red, a local offering from Walnut River that is not available at many places in town.

So Many Sauces

So Many Sauces

Both of our burgers were ordered medium rare, which I typically am not afraid to do at a nicer place because of the hopefully better quality of meat and the fact that usually burgers are overcooked anyway. I was very pleased to see our large meat disks were cooked to perfection, with a nice pink center. The mushroom swiss burger came with generous amounts of cheese, bacon, and mushrooms piled onto a thick, half pound patty. The only complaint is that the beef was just a touch under-seasoned, but that did not keep this from being a very good burger.

Evidence of a Properly Cooked Burger

Evidence of a Properly Cooked Burger

The bleu burger was solid as well. It came with plenty of melted bleu cheese, bacon, and sauteed onions. At $8.50 and $9 dollars these burgers are on the high end, especially not coming with any side, but they are large and will easily satisfy most appetites. The sweet potatoes fries were a good effort, but nothing exceptional. As for the various dipping sauces, my favorites were the chili powder based ketchup, and the truffle cream. Our waitress was very apologetic about our wait and ended up comping our beers, thus redeeming the customer service experience somewhat.

We tried Dempsey’s just two weeks after they had opened, so I understand the rough service to some extent. Hopefully they will get their issues figured out, because if there is one thing Wichitans will not tolerate it’s poor service. Dempsey’s serves up very good burgers and should be given a try by all those discerning burgerphiles out there.

Dempsey's Burger Pub on Urbanspoon

Fork and Fennel (Vive la France!)

5 Dec

Wichita and I have waited a long time for a restaurant concept such as Fork and Fennel’s to come along. When I heard that the owner of The Anchor and Douglas Ave Chop Shop was behind it, I expected good things.  The combination of a trendy French inspired menu, good craft beer selection, relaxed atmosphere, and emphasis on quality locally raised products make this a unique establishment and the perfect place to celebrate my birthday or yours.

Shrimp in Trendy Pickled Form

Shrimp in Trendy Pickled Form

Fork and Fennel is located on east Douglas in what was once a Taco Tico. Although the building still retains some of its Southwestern architecture, the inside has been completely redone with a nice modern feel to it. They even put a small bar in the front for those who want to watch their fancy cocktails being made.

The drink menu features several unique cocktails, a nice selection of bottled craft beer, and limited and seasonal release beers on tap. I sampled a couple of delicious brews, including a 10% beast from O’Dell called Dr. Acula.

The food menu is small, but packs a rustic French punch. The highlights are Coq au Vin, pork and beef steaks featuring locally raised meat, roasted bone marrow, charcuterie and cheese plates, a burger with pork belly, and sandwiches featuring cured meats.

The Crusty Italian: Delicious Cured Sausage and Baguette

The Crusty Italian: Delicious Cured Sausage and Baguette

Unfortunately on the night we visited they had a plumbing issue earlier in the day that prevented some menu items from being available, namely two of the dishes I had my eye on, the Coq au vin and bone marrow. Nevertheless we still had difficulty making our selections, so we ended up ordering the fennel salad, charcuterie plate, Crusty Italian, and the pickled shrimp.

The fennel salad was a light dish that featured grilled fennel on a bed of lettuce and herbs with lemon zest and Italian cheese. Fennel can be a strong and pungent vegetable, but in its grilled form it was very palatable. One of the more popular culinary trends currently is pickling, and Fork and Fennel’s effort involves whole shrimp that have been lightly pickled with lemons and herbs. I was disappointed the dish did not have as much pickled goodness as I had hoped. Instead of a salty and briny taste, it was more of a subtle citrus flavor. The Crusty Italian was a simple sandwich with several kinds of cured meat, cheese, eggplant spread, and lettuce. The sausage stole the show on this delicious sandwich as it should have. Some homemade potato chips were served on the side, but lacked much in the way of seasoning.

Authentic Charcuterie: Happy Birthday to Me

Authentic Charcuterie: Happy Birthday to Me

The highlight of our meal was the hardcore charcuterie plate. Included on the platter were ample servings of four cured meats, lardo, pate, pickled cauliflower, and some crusty bread. Each of the cured pork products were outstanding, the best being a fennel sausage. I believe that Fork and Fennel sources some of their charcuterie products from one of few places in the country that dry cures meats nowadays, La Quercia. The lardo, which is cured pig fat, was a rich and decadent treat spread over a piece of baguette.  Equally pleasing was the pate, which is hard to find around here. While many people find it disagreeable, I am down with it in all its pasty goodness.

I was happy to find that Fork and Fennel had lived up to everything I had hoped it would. It certainly fills a void in the Wichita dining scene and offers patrons the opportunity to experience some new flavors. While the prices are a bit on the higher side, you are paying for quality ingredients. One of the downsides is the small kitchen area, which limits how much food can be produced each night, so some of the more popular dishes are prone to being sold out. If you are looking for the closest thing to classical French cooking Wichita has to offer, go to Fork and Fennel order a craft beer and a charcuterie plate and thank me later.

Fork and Fennel on Urbanspoon

Emperor’s Japanese Grill

21 Nov

When it comes to Americanized Japanese/Asian food Emperor’s Japanese Grill has it covered. Their three locations offer quick, made to order dishes that can be enjoyed by dining in or carrying out.  We visited the east side location at Central and Greenwich for lunch. The other two locations are out on the west side.

Hibachi with Calamari

Hibachi with Calamari

The menu at Emperor’s is not just relegated to Japanese style dishes, in fact most of the options are more Chineseque in my opinion. The main features of the menu are the teriyaki and Hibachi stir fry dishes. You can choose your meat or seafood and most meals come with a drink and fried rice. There is also Lo Mein, sweet and sour chicken, fried rice options, broccoli stir fry, egg rolls, and crab rangoon. The prices and quantity of food are reasonable with meals ranging from $5 to $14. It appeared from watching the open cooking area that each dish is prepared to order on their large flat top grill.

On our visit we ordered the Hibachi grill with calamari, the Chef’s Special stir fry with shrimp, and a couple of crab rangoon. We noticed a small fridge located next to the counter that contained small plastic tubs of several different sauces. We grabbed a ginger, sweet and sour, and spicy mustard  just in case our food needed some help.

The crab rangoon were fresh, tasty, and stacked up well with other versions in town. The sweet and sour sauce was very good and added the right amount of sweetness and heat. We were less impressed with the Hibachi with calamari. While the veggies and calamari were cooked properly, the sauce was weak and the dish was bland. Luckily the garlic and spicy mustard sauces we had procured earlier amped up the food. The fried rice that came with the stir fry was fine, but nothing spectacular. The Chef’s Special was much better, although the shrimp were few and far between. The slightly sour sauce went nicely with the stir fried cabbage and carrots.

Chefs Special with Shrimp

Chefs Special with Shrimp

While we were not blown away by Emperor’s offerings, their made to order menu is certainly better than something that has been sitting in a warning tray for hours. If you are in a hurry and need an Asian fix, this is a suitable option.

Emperor's Japanese Grill East on Urbanspoon11330 E Central Ave
Wichita, KS 67206

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