Archive | July, 2012

AVI Seabar and Chophouse

23 Jul

Tucked away inside the newly remodeled Broadview Hotel at Douglas and Waco is AVI Seabar and Chophouse. Although this upscale eatery has only been open since late last year it has already undergone a menu revamp, received mixed reviews, and been subject to rumors of closure.

Refreshing Cocktails

The interior of AVI can be described as modern industrial perhaps? High ceilings and exposed duct work is fashionable these days. A large fireplace in the center adds a hominess feeling to the restaurant. Although there were plenty of tables available on the main level, Steph and I were taken to the more intimate second story for some private dining.

Since it was a special occasion we decided to kick off the meal with some $8 cocktails. Steph ordered the Orange Julius while I opted for the Mint Julep. Both drinks were quite refreshing and contained a decent amount of alcohol.

The menu covers all the typical bases with salads, sandwiches, steaks, seafood, as well as some poultry and pork dishes. Some of the highlights include a cheese and charcuterie platter(this may be the only restaurant in town that has sweet, delicious charcuterie on the menu), a croque monsieur sandwich, a smoked duck

The Extravagant Salmon Wrapped Scallops

breast, and salmon belly wrapped scallops. I was pleased to see that some actual French inspired dishes were on this menu. If there is one cuisine type that Wichita is really lacking in, it would be classic French. While most dishes will run you about $15-$30 there are several in the $8-$15 range. Since AVI is billed as a seafood and steak place, we figured we should at least try one on these proteins, so Steph went with the extravagantly named Salmon Belly Wrapped Diver Scallops. Once I saw that a smoked duck breast was on the menu that was the end of the decision making process for me. Duck breast is one of my favorite splurge dishes since it is a meat that is difficult to obtain fresh around here, unless I take up duck hunting.  The scallops were served with creamed spinach and “griddle potatoes”, while the duck came with roasted asparagus and a parsnip puree.

Duck Breast: Overcooked, But Still Delicious

While waiting for the meal, some homemade roasted garlic bread was brought to our table. Whole cloves of garlic baked into the loaf made it an impressive pre-dinner bread offering. Both of our main dishes received high marks for presentation, although I immediately noticed that my duck was overcooked. Due to the low fat content of duck it really shouldn’t be cooked past medium rare, but this breast looked to be on the high end of medium. Despite this error, it still tasted wonderful. The meat was tender, the skin delightfully fatty, and the smoky, sweet flavor was perfect. Bonus points to AVI for using apple wood to smoke the duck. The asparagus and puree parsnips were good as well, although a larger portion would have been nice. The parsnips tasted very similar to mashed potatoes. Luckily the scallops did not suffer the same fate as the duck, they were cooked perfectly. The tender salmon belly was a good accompaniment for the scallops. While we were not impressed with the griddle potatoes, the richness of the creamed spinach complimented the delicate scallops nicely.

Overall our experience at AVI was positive. We did not have any problems with the service like some have complained about in the past. Hopefully they have smoothed out the operation and will be able to remain in business. When looking for a special occasion restaurant keep AVI in mind.

AVI Seabar & Chophouse on Urbanspoon

Yen Ching(CLOSED)

9 Jul

Amidst the ever changing intersection of Rock and Central sits Yen Ching, one of Wichita’s older Chinese restaurants. The building certainly sticks out with its decorative green pagodaesque awnings and some strange stone bridge in front of the entrance. Inside, the classic Chinese restaurant motif continues with various statues, paintings, and furniture.

Hot Soup on a Hot Day

I doubt the interior here has been updated since 1990 and for evidence of this I submit the vintage cigarette machine that is proudly displayed in the dining room. Although devoid of smokes, it is a reminder of the good old days when anyone could buy cigarettes from a machine. Yen Ching’s dining layout is just as unique as the interior design. The main dining area consists of about 10 tables, but there is also a balcony type level with additional seating.

We went to Yen Ching during the noon hour and were presented with the abbreviated lunch menu. It consisted of about 15 of your typical Chinese dishes and a few appetizers. All of the lunch dishes come with egg drop soup, a salad, fried rice, and a crab rangoon. I decided to try the Shrimp Chow Mein, while Steph ordered the special of the day, which was a combination plate of Sweet and Sour Pork and Chicken Chow Mein. The egg drop soup and salad appeared quickly after we put in our order, but neither of us were impressed with the first course. The egg drop was ok, but it is tough to enjoy soup  on a 100 degree day. The salad was basically just some lettuce with an average ginger sesame dressing. We liked our appetizer order of eggs rolls better than the soup and salad, but they tasted a bit bland.

A Heaping Dish of Shrimp Chow Mein

Our main courses were much more enjoyable. Both dished contained generous servings of the main entrée as well as fried rice and a crab rangoon. I was very happy with the Shrimp Chow Mein dish. It had plenty of well cooked and fresh tasting shrimp, a good variety of stir fried veggies, a savory sauce, and wonton chips. Although I would have liked  more pieces of broccoli, the wonton chips made up for that shortcoming. They provided an extra crunch and were a unique addition to the dish.  The Sweet and Sour Pork was a hit with both of us. Besides the fried bits of pork, slices of pineapple and veggies were mixed in the dish. The Chicken Chow Mein was just as good as the shrimp, although if you are not a fan of dark meat, like Steph, you may want to steer clear of it. Last but not least, the crab rangoon. Unlike most rangoon, they were not overly sweet, but very creamy and rich. I could have easily eaten several more of them.

While we were not completely blown away by the food at Yen Ching, they still turn out a decent product. With a lunch menu ranging from $6-$9, it is a good value that will leave you rather stuffed.
Yen Ching Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Timbuktu Bar and Grill: A Family Friendly Dive Bar

1 Jul

All Are Welcome at Timbuktu

Previously Published in The Wichita Eagle:

Sometimes you just need a good cheeseburger and beer to reaffirm that all is still well and good in the world. Luckily you needn’t travel to a city in western Africa to find such a place, just head out to Andover. There you will find Timbuktu Bar and Grill, a small town institution since 1982 that’s known for their hamburgers and friendly atmosphere.

Taking advantage of the temperate weather on the evening of our visit, we bypassed the dim indoor dining area and went straight to the back patio. Complete with tiki hut, play area for kids/inebriated adults, safari themed wall murals, and plenty of seating this patio is a sight to see.

The small menu consists of your typical bar food selections. Appetizers include nachos, corn fritters, stuffed jalapenos, fried mushrooms and chicken wings. Several sandwiches are also offered including grilled cheese, chicken fried steak, and pork fritter. The main attraction at Timbuktu is the famous half pound burger or for those with something to prove, the double one-pounder. The bar menu is limited to a handful of tap beers and a few canned selections, but they are served in throwback frosty mason jars.

Fried Pork and O-Rings

On our visit we ordered a cheeseburger and pork fitter sandwich. All sandwiches come with chips, but an upgrade to onion rings or curly fires is strongly recommended as both were quite good. The pork fritter sandwich consists of a generous fried cutlet of pork loin, raw onions, and pickles. I substituted fried onions for the raw and applied ketchup and mustard. The sandwich turned out to be pretty good. I was happily surprised that the pork remained moist and tender despite its exterior crispness. My wife ordered the famed burger with fried onions and cheese. A jalapeno relish is also available if you like some spice with your burger.  It was nice to see that the beef patty was hand formed and thick. While the burger was a touch overdone the fried onions and cheese helped make it satisfying. It was not the best burger either of us has had, but we would definitely order it again.

The Famed Half Pounder

Simplicity is the key at Timbuktu and after thirty years in business they continue to make it work. With daily drink specials, occasional live music, and a weekly biker night there is something for everyone at Timbuktu.

Timbuktu on Urbanspoon


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