Archive | December, 2010

Old Mill Tasty Shop- Wichita KS

31 Dec

There are perks to being a teacher and two of them are winter break and summer break. I enjoy taking advantage of these breaks by going out to lunch with friends. It is nice to have more than 40 minutes for lunch. So I of course went to lunch with an old friend who also happens to be a teacher. My friend has a fondness for restaurants off the beaten path like Phil and I so I suggested the Old Mill Tasty Shop. Now I realize the Old Mill Tasty Shop isn’t the most adventurous establishment but it was only my second time to go there and the exterior fascinates me. If you haven’t been there before I promise you have driven by it as long as you have driven west on Douglas past Oldtown. The outside of the restaurant looks just like a picturesque soda fountain joint with its bright red sign. The interior includes a large lunch counter and plenty of small tables that are covered with black and white images. I don’t believe they have done much to the place since it opened in the 50’s which would explain why it looks so authentic. The waitress was also pretty fun, trying to get us to order desserts so she “could fatten us up.” (Note: we sure did leave a larger tip for this sweet compliment!)

My friend and I did have to wait a few minutes for a table to open up. We went at noon on a weekday and this is a popular spot to stop for the downtown work crew.  They have a blue plate special everyday and today’s happened to be the Monterrey. After my friend explained to me what a Monterrey is, we both decided it sounded good enough to order. I also got a cherry coke which was fantastic because they mix their sodas the old fashioned way. Then we got our food. My friend described the Monterrey as a taco salad but with chili instead of meat. That is a great way to put it. The chili has pork in it and the entire thing was on a crispy flour taco shell. It was awesome. Both of us ate our entire dish-plate and all.

The Old Mill is also famous for its desserts but we were full and decided not to get any. I would love to go back and get something with ice cream. So if you have been somewhat hesitant to try something on our blog I encourage you to try the Old Mill Tasty Shop. I promise it isn’t scary.

Old Mill Tasty Shop on Urbanspoon

Siam Cuisine- Wichita KS (CLOSED)

29 Dec

In preparation for Steph and I’s onslaught of 24 hours of family Christmas fun, we escaped by ourselves on the eve of Christmas Eve to try out a Thai place. Siam Cuisine is located at 21st and Woodlawn in the strip mall on the southwest corner. This little gem was completely empty when we went in at 8:15 pm. Steph didn’t believe me when I informed her that I had called ahead to clear the place out. She was also slightly creeped out by the massage parlor next door that is open until 10:00 pm, which is an hour later than Siam. The inside of the restaurant isn’t much to talk about,  the usual standard tables, posters of Thailand, and a large fish tank. However, they did have a nice Christmas tree and some holiday music playing.

We started out with an order of chicken satay with peanut dipping sauce. The chicken was tasty, although I don’t think the peanut sauce was as good as Thai House on West St. Steph being her adventurous self tried the pad thai, which is what she always orders at Thai places. It came with large pieces of both shrimp and chicken and was quite good. The only problem was that the noodles were too sticky and clumped up. I ordered the beef coconut red curry, which is what I usually get at Thai places. It was the perfect dish for a cold night, the heat of the curry was just right. Our portion sizes were both rather generous and everything was nice and fresh. The only thing that detracted from the meal was the fact that our window table allowed me a full view of the KFC next door advertising chicken gizzards for $2.99. Yum.

Siam is a solid Thai food place that offers a wide variety of tasty Thai dishes sure to please everyone. If you are hesitant to try Thai, just go with the Pad Thai. It is very similar to Chinese dishes that you have probably had and is a good way to test the Thai waters. One additional note: If you notice the cashier talking under her breath while taking your payment do not  be alarmed or insulted she may just be talking on her Blue Tooth.

Siam Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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

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.

Saigon – Wichita KS (Free Pho is Good Pho)

21 Dec

Once again I found myself on Broadway, this time just north of Central at the iconic Saigon. Saigon is a Vietnamese  and Asian restaurant that has been in Wichita for quite awhile. Don’t be confused with the restaurant that is just a block down the street. That place is called Little Saigon and if you aren’t paying attention you might just go there by mistake. Although I hear it has good food as well so it wouldn’t be that big of a problem.

The one constant about Saigon is their speed of service. You can go in there in the middle of the lunch time rush and you will probably only have to wait about 10 minutes for your food. Saigon has a medium sized dining room that is adorned with a large TV(pretty much inevitable in today’s restaurant world), as well as some nice ethnic decorations.

On this trip to Saigon I went with a couple of friends for some nice hot pho (Please see the Pho Hot Bistro entry if you would like the correct pronunciation of Pho as well as a detailed explanation of what exactly Pho is) . Pho is one of my favorite cold weather foods. The combination of the hot broth, meat, noodles, cilantro, fish sauce, jalapenos, and rooster sauce really lights a fire in my stomach. I ordered the sliced beef and meatball pho and was not disappointed. The broth was full flavored and while the “meatballs” were a bit different from what I was expecting they were none the less good. I would say that this pho was a bit better than Pho Hot’s pho.  Besides pho, Saigon offers a huge menu of Vietnamese as well as classic Chinese dishes.  This menu allows you to be as adventurous as you would like. If you cannot handle of deliciousness of a Vietnamese noddle bowl you can stick to some sesame chicken and rice. To top off our visit to Saigon my dear friend paid for my bowl of pho, can you believe that? For the purpose of complete disclosure I must mention that I did give my old smoker to him, so he was not really doing this out of the goodness of his heart. Although I will take what I can get.

The only part of this meal that disagreed with me was my ironic and rather insulting fortune cookie. As I recall , it read something to the effect of, “A change in your exercise routine is needed”. I kid you not. So now fortune cookies insult you? I fail to understand why this message is needed when you are eating a cookie! I think Saigon may want to filter some of these messages, because eventually the wrong person will unwrap this little jewel and there will be hell to pay.

The message of the day is: Go to Saigon for some great Pho and surly fortunes.

Saigon Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Connie’s Mexico Cafe – Wichita KS

16 Dec

Keeping with our theme of Broadway Street restaurant institutions I give you one Connie’s Mexico Cafe. Connie’s, according to their website, is the oldest family-owned Mexican restaurant. Not too bad for a city full of small family Hispanic establishments.  There’s nothing like Mexican food to get me in the shopping mood, so that is where my Mom and I went before doing some Christmas shopping.

Connie’s is located at the NW corner of 21st and Broadway where it has survived despite the ongoing construction over the years and the time someone decided Connie’s needed a drive-thru wall. Although some people may question the neighborhood that Connie’s is located in , relax because your car is being watched by the Lady of Guadalupe by way of a nice mural on the side of the building. The inside of the restaurant consists of a simple, small dining room with about 20 tables.  Upon sitting down we were served some fresh tortilla chips and two types of salsa. Both salsas were fresh and satisfying. The chips were a touch over-fried, but still better than most. The menu consists of your typical Mexican dishes, with a few exceptions. Connie’s is known for their giant burritos as well as their Monterreys. My Mom and I decided to try the Monterrey Special. It consisted of a fried tortilla with refried beans, cheese, lettuce, pork, avocado slices, and a large dallop of sour cream. When our food came out to us, I was a bit disappointed to see that they had committed what I believe is a cardinal sin. They had grilled my poor slices of pork to a terrible crisp. Oh the humanity! As some of you may know, I hold pork in high regard. Give me a pork tenderloin, baby backs, or a brined rib chop any day over a steak! Now this may be the way they have been doing things here since the 60s, but it was a big turn off for me. I was hoping for some nice slow cooked pork chunks that just fall apart in your mouth, these cuts however were tough and fatty. No Bueno. Looking past the poor pork, the Monterrey was a good dish. They do offer beef or chicken that would probably be a much better choice.

It appears that Connie’s has weathered the test of time sufficiently enough. They still offer solid food in a good atmosphere. With the food that I sampled I can’t say that it is my favorite Mexican food in town, but it is still worth checking out.

Connie's Mexico Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Artichoke – Wichita, KS

11 Dec

The time has come to finally do a write up on the Wichita sandwich institution that is The Artichoke Sandwich Bar on north Broadway.  I went here recently with my friend, who I believe has started to embrace the chainfree lifestyle. The Artichoke is probably the closest thing to an authentic Irish bar that you get in Wichita. They have a replica Blarney Stone out front, Irish trappings inside, and Guinness on tap. Good enough for Wichita I say. The inside is cozy with a small bar located off to the right. In the back room there is a pool table and some additional seating. With its proximity to downtown it is a popular lunch destination, but does have a carry-out window in case you are in a hurry.

The main attraction of the Artichoke are the sandwiches, although they do serve some simple appetizers and salads.  On this occasion I went with the Famous Number 8 with broccoli salad. The Number 8 comes with sliced turkey, bacon, cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Italian dressing all on an onion hoagie bun. Needless to say this sandwich was really good and the broccoli salad was pretty solid as well. This sandwich stacks up well with anything that Metro Grill, Cinnamon’s, or Cafe Moderne has to offer, although I don’t know if it is as good as the delightful Italian BMT from Subway. Man those frozen bread loaves are so good. My friend ordered some other sandwich and was equally impressed. He mentioned that it might even be a place that he would come back to. At least there are a few people out there that I can convince to eat at good places.

If you have never been to or have not visited the Artichoke lately just go. The food is as good as it has ever been and  the atmosphere is authentic. All the crap they have on their walls is real and was probably not bought at a restaurant wall decorati0n emporium. They even feature live acoustic music and open mic nites throughout the week. So go there have a great sandwich, down a pint or two, and then bust out your guitar and perform an acoustic version of Dark Side in entirety.  You will make a lot of friends.

The Artichoke on Urbanspoon

Scotch and Sirloin – Wichita, KS (They serve a medium burger here!)

4 Dec

Last week we went with some extended family to the granddaddy of the Wichita Restaurant scene, The Scotch and Sirloin. The Scotch has been open in Wichita since 1969 and has long been one of the better places to get steaks, fried catfish, frog legs, and Oysters Rockefeller. I have frequented the Scotch many times, but never for lunch until last week. I think I will be going back though after our experience.

Many people are of the impression that the Scotch is a real fancy place with pricey meals. Now it’s no Applebees, (thank God) but it really isn’t that fancy and you can get a good meal for $15-20 a person. If you have read the Hereford House review you know how I feel about the Scotch’s steak so I will remain focused on our lunch experience.

The Scotch has a small lunch menu that consists of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and several other lunchtime standards. There are no real exciting menu offerings, just ample portions of classic American lunch fare. I opted for the cheese burger since it was the day before Thanksgiving and I needed to get my beef fix since I knew I would be eating turkey for the next week. I asked for the burger to be cooked to medium, fully expecting it to come out burned to a crisp. I was shocked when I bit into the juicy goodness to see an ample amount of pinkness in the disc of beef. It had been a long time since I had seen a burger come out medium. In this day and age of mad cow,salmonella, and H1N1 paranoia most burgers are cooked beyond well done and into the realm of crispy meat product. Now obviously some of these burgers are still really good, but they would be so much better if they would just calm down and serve a bit below medium well. I always get a kick out of places like Red Robin who ask you if you would like “some pink or no pink” as if it were a color chart. If you don’t understand the concept of rare, medium, and well then perhaps you should stick with the chicken fingers. Anyway I just had to get that off my chest and now back to the lunch review: My burger was very good, although it could have used a bit more seasoning. It was a good sized burger and ample amount of fries for the price of $7.50. Beat that Smushburger.

Steph ordered a chicken wrap that came out the size of a Chipotle burrito. She was not terribly satisfied with the wrap though. The wrap contained cheese, mayo, cheese, a couple bites of chicken, cheese, and you guessed it cheese. Thankfully my cousin helped Steph finish it off. Steph also ordered a side of cottage fries. This is one of her favorite ways to eat a potato and the Scotch does a nice job. They have great seasoning and are good size. The only complaint is that she prefers them a bit thinner than the Scotch slices them.

So, if you are looking for a nice, well cooked hamburger for lunch you should give the Scotch a try before you head over to 5 Guys.

Scotch & Sirloin on Urbanspoon


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