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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

Krispy’s Fried Chicken and Seafood(It’s All About the Chicken and Waffles)

19 Sep

If there’s one thing that will keep me motivated on a 20 mile run it’s the thought of enjoying a plate of chicken and waffles afterwards. Until recently it was hard to find this opulent soul food combination in Wichita, but Krispy’s Fried Chicken and Seafood has changed that. This small restaurant is located on south Hillside just north of 31st St and specializes in a simple menu full of fried goodness.

Sadly many people are not familiar with or are turned off at the notion of feasting on fried chicken and waffles served together in a magical syrupy harmony. Let me tell you, it is a wondrous mix of sweet and savory that pleases the soul. The combination of a quality waffle, crispy fried bone-in chicken, and syrup is tough to beat when you are looking to splurge.

Syrupy Soul Food

Syrupy Soul Food

Krispy’s has a small interior with only a few tables and on our visit it seemed like they did more carryout business than dine-in. The main feature of the menu is of course the fried chicken that is available in 2 piece to 24 piece options. Chicken and waffle combos, tenders, fried steak, hot wings, and gizzards round out the poultry offerings. As the “Seafood” part in their name implies they serve fried shrimp and catfish as well as sides that include fries, O-rings, okra, mashed potatoes, and a salad that looks terribly out of place on this menu and probably isn’t a top seller. For dessert there is ice cream and brownie bites, both in fried form. The prices at Krispy’s are rock bottom with two pieces of chicken and a waffle costing about $4. You can buy the 24 piece meal for $27.

On our visit, we ordered two chicken and waffle meals, a side of sweet potato fries, and

Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

Crispy Sweet Potato Fries

a banana waffle for a our son. The sweet potato fries were average, while crisp they lacked any seasoning. The banana waffle on the other hand was quite delicious. It had a slightly crunchy exterior and great banana flavor. Of course the chicken and waffle meal was the highlight of our lunch. The fried chicken was tasty. The breading was not overly seasoned or greasy, while the meat remained moist. The waffle was delicious as well with a slightly cinnamon flavor. With a packet of syrup drizzled over both the chicken and the waffle it was the perfect combination of salty and sweet soul food.

Krispy’s fills a much needed void for a local fried chicken place. While their menu is nothing fancy they do a good job serving solid and affordable comfort food.

 

Krispy’s Fried Chicken & Seafood on Urbanspoon

YOLO Grill

8 Aug

There are many restaurants in town to get a burger and fries, so in order to be successful,  an establishment has to set itself apart from the others. Keeping the menu simple and not cutting many corners are two easy ways to accomplish this in my opinion. YOLO (You Only Live Once) Grill is just a simple restaurant making simple food, but they know how to do it right.

YOLO is located on West St. just north of Central in an old Sonic building. It’s conveniently painted a lovely shade of fluorescent green just in case you are having trouble finding it. There isn’t much seating inside the small eatery, so be prepared to wait for a seat during the peak lunchtime hour. The menu is pretty straightforward, but does offer some variety. The backbone of the food offerings are their hamburgers and they have several to choose from.

The YOLO burger with Fried Egg

The YOLO burger with Fried Egg

You can have your simple bacon and cheese or up the ante with a fried egg, pulled pork, hot links, or avocado. There are also fish and chips, a BLT, chicken strips, a lighter grilled chicken wrap, and a reuben sandwich. Sides include delicious fried treats such as fries, O-rings, okra, and pickles. For those preparing for an eating contest or just looking for a challenge, they offer “The Tombstone”, a six patty monster burger.

Luckily we visited YOLO on a Saturday, when the reuben is offered, so I went with it. My sister opted for a cheeseburger with a fried egg, and my son got a grilled hot dog although he was eyeing the basket of suckers on the counter intently.

As an aficionado of Reuben sandwiches, I was eager to sample YOLO’s offering as they make their own corned beef. I am rather familiar with corning beef and was impressed that a restaurant is willing to take the extra time to do this.

Reuben Perfection

Reuben Perfection

Piled high with thick cut corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and dressing it tasted like everything you could hope for in a reuben. The tender, flavorful corned beef and indulgent amounts of melted swiss made this one of the best reubens I have ever had.  My only complaint was that the bread wasn’t the traditional rye, but I am willing to overlook this. The basic thick cut fries that came with my meal were perfectly cooked and well seasoned.

The single patty hamburger was a solid effort, that was highlighted by the gently charred crust of the meat disk. YOLO uses an open flame grill for cooking so they can impart that flavor onto the meat as well as keep the grease in check. The burger was a touch overdone, but nothing to really complain about. The fried egg added a little flair to the basic burger.

My son seemed to enjoy his ketchup laden hot dog and fries. When ordering a hot dog you have the option of having it grilled or fried, while we went with the grilled version, I can imagine you can’t go wrong with a deep fried hot dog.

I was happy to see the pride that goes into the food at YOLO. While the menu offerings are nothing new to Wichita, if you like American comfort food done right this is a great place to check out.

 

Yolo Grill on Urbanspoon

Food Trucks at the Fountain

25 Jul

If you have always wanted to sample some of Wichita’s most popular food trucks, keep in mind the last Sunday of each month. On this day several trucks gather at the Water Walk Fountain in downtown to serve up lunch from 11:30 to 2:30.

The owners of the Flying Stove are responsible for “Food Trucks at the Fountain”, so their truck is a constant each month. There are several other trucks that round out the offerings and provide plenty of options. On our visit B. S. Sandwich Press, Park-n-Pork BBQ, The Waffle Wagon, Brick House BBQ, and Let’m Eat Brats were serving as well.

When we pulled into the parking lot nearest the food trailers it seemed that there was some sort of problem. Apparently in a frenzied rush to order caramelized waffles from the Waffle Wagon, people had simply forgotten how to use a parking lot properly. I present to you Exhibit A:

Massive Parking Lot Fail

Massive Parking Lot Fail

Once out of our car we walked up and down the row of trailers, scouting out the menus. Steph went with a Cobb salad sandwich and the famous crack-laced truffle fries from The Flying Stove. After much deliberation I went with a Carolina style pulled pork sandwich and green beans from Park-n-Pork. There was a good crowd even at 1:30, so each truck had decent queues for both ordering and picking up food.

Cobb Salad Sandwich from Flying Stove

Cobb Salad Sandwich from Flying Stove

The Cobb salad sandwich was filled with a generous serving of lemony grilled chicken, tomatoes, avocados, blue cheese, egg, lettuce, and dressing. The chicken, while somewhat overcooked, had very good flavor. The rest of the ingredients worked as well together as in a traditional Cobb salad. I was most impressed with the bun. Laden with this many ingredients it is not uncommon for buns to suffer CBF(Catastrophic Bun Failure) and render themselves a wet mass of mess, but this one held strong. The truffle fries were as delicious as usual. There is certainly no need for ketchup with these perfectly seasoned fried potatoes.

Carolina-Style Pork Sandwich

Carolina-Style Pork Sandwich

My pork sandwich featured a decent amount of pulled pork, a vinegar based BBQ sauce, and coleslaw. I was happy to see that despite sitting in a warming tray for the last several hours the pork was still fairly moist, which is no small feat. The pork had a nice smoke flavor and good rub as well. Overall I liked the sandwich, but I thought there was too much coleslaw overpowering the pork and sauce. The spicy green beans were a disappointment because they were canned and it was such a meager serving. The peppers and garlic provided a good kick, but were unable to save the bits of bean. I think if fresh or even frozen beans had been used this would have been a tasty side dish. For dessert we were hoping to get a caramelized waffle from the Waffle Wagon, but unfortunately that had sold out by then.

I was glad to see that the event was so popular, but the large crowds meant longer waits and food that started running out towards the end. Food Trucks at the Fountain is a good way to scope out the various food trucks that continue to pop up over town.

Watermark Cafe

24 Apr

What’s better than sitting down to begin a new book? How about enjoying a tasty sandwich or salad while enjoying your book? Watermark Books and Cafe, located at Oliver and Douglas,  is the place where you can make this happen. Watermark is one of the few remaining independent book stores in Wichita and perhaps some of their success can be attributed to the popular cafe that is housed inside.

The Great Expectations: Could Dickens Describe it in Less Than 500 words?

The Great Expectations: Could Dickens Describe it in Less Than 500 words?

The scope of the cafe’s offerings is impressive for a small place and includes dine-in or carryout options for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, fresh baked pastries and breads, and catering. The menu consists of various sandwiches and salads cleverly named with book titles, soups, several breakfast offerings, daily desserts, and a number of specialty drinks.

On our visit I went with the Great Expectations, a Dickinsonian delight that consisted of turkey, apricot-curry mayo, lettuce, and chopped walnuts. It was a sandwich that even Pip would have been pleased with. The apricot-curry mayo and walnuts were a nice combination that livened up this sandwich. Steph ordered the Catcher in the Rye, which included turkey, salami, swiss cheese, and sundried tomato mayo served on rye bread of course. This hearty and warm sandwich was quite tasty, although the rye bread was not as good as other versions in town. We also ordered a PB and J kids meal for our son, which in hindsight may not have been the best decision. Imagine a small child with PB covered hands and face running off into the kids section of the store. Lesson learned.

Watermark Cafe offers decent and unique sandwich and salad options for quick dining. They also get bonus points for having creative names for their menu items. In fact I took the liberty to come up with a few more suggestions for possible new items:

The Heart of Darkness: Baked tilapia, fried plantains, and mango salsa served on a whole wheat tortilla

A Christmas Carol: Thick sliced turkey, smoked gouda cheese, and a walnut cranberry pesto

The Grapes of Wrath: A mixed green salad with grapes, toasted pecans, and a buttermilk vinaigrette

 

Watermark Cafe on Urbanspoon

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/329/1346128/restaurant/Watermark-Cafe-Wichita

Bill’s Charcoal Grill

26 Mar

In theory the hamburger is simple, a disk of meat, a few condiments, some toppings, and a bread based cover are all that is necessary. Yet I am always surprised how restaurants find ways to screw up this pure Americana dish. The most egregious error is when restaurants opt for frozen pre-made patties and then proceed to cook the hell out of them. A burger patty should be handled with care and not require a pick axe to remove it from a frozen stack. If the aforementioned burger atrocity strikes a chord with you as well, then you will find a safe haven at Bill’s Charcoal Grill.

The Classic Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries

The Classic Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries

Located on the corner of 29th and Arkansas, this simple eatery knows how to make a reasonable hamburger. The new owners of Bill’s spruced up the interior and made a few minor changes, but the original concept has remained the same. Besides the typical burger options, a few pasta, seafood, and steak dishes are offered now. Side dishes include fries, sweet potato fries, O-rings, and baked beans. A condiment/topping bar is located next to the counter, so you can add all the veggies you desire. The food is reasonably priced with the basic burger and side costing around $5.

On our visit Steph tried the basic cheeseburger with sweet potato fries and I went with the exotic California burger and a side of O-rings. I was pleased and somewhat apprehensive when we were asked how we wanted the burgers cooked. Too many times I have been deceived by restaurants promising to cook burgers to order, only to discover that everything comes out well done. I know in this age of ecoli, you must be very careful when dealing with ground meat, but with proper handling and quality meat, cooking a hamburger to medium doneness is safe and acceptable.

The California in All Its Glory

The California in All Its Glory

I was quite impressed with the California burger. With the first bite I noticed that several of the qualifications for an acceptable hamburger were met; a toasted bun, plenty of melted cheese, and a juicy meat disk. Besides cheese the California comes with bacon, avocado, and a split hot link for good measure. While the hotlink was good, it provided almost too much decadence as well as grease. Next time I will order the Cali sans link. Steph’s cheeseburger  was just about all you can hope for in a basic burger. I was impressed that both of our burgers were cooked just as requested. Both the fries and onion rings were just average. The fries could have used some seasoning and the onion rings seemed like they were of the frozen variety.

Bill’s Charcoal Grill should definitely be in the discussion when the topic of best burgers in Wichita comes up. Their fresh, cooked to order patties help set them apart from many other contenders. If you happen to save room for dessert head next door to one of my favorite restaurants in town, Paleteria La Reyna for some delicious homemade ice cream.

Bill's Charcoal Grill on Urbanspoon

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

Cow and Sow Deli

11 Jan

It seems like the Wichita dining scene has a lag of several years when it comes to new trends. We are just now getting over the great food truck explosion of 2012/2013, Gastropubs are a relatively new concept, and everything is served on a pretzel bun now. At this pace you can expect Cronuts coming to a bakery near you in 2020. Another one of those trends that is starting to catch on here is the locavore movement/diet/religion/whathaveyou. This admirable trend tries to focus on sourcing as many ingredients as possible from local producers. With all the great meat and produce that Kansas has to offer, I am surprised it took this long for the movement to come into full swing. Cow and Sow Deli is the newest in a growing list of restaurants that offer local produce, breads, and meat.

Mushroom and Kale Soup: It tasted better than it looked

Mushroom and Kale Soup: It tasted better than it looked

Cow and Sow is located downtown on Douglas, inside the Renfro building. It is a small space, especially on a busy day, but there is plenty of seating in a separate dining area next door in the Renfro Studio. Besides serving food Cow and Sow also has a very small market where you can buy various food products from local producers. At the time of our visit it looked a bit bare, but January in Kansas is not known as one of the more bountiful months for fresh food.

The lunch and dinner menu consists of a few sandwiches and one or two soups of the day. There is also a self-described “salad trough” that features unique homemade vegetarian and vegan options.  The sandwiches feature locally baked bread and greens, while the soups are all made in-house daily. They also offer a small assortment of pastries, coffee, and desserts.

During the winter months I am hopelessly addicted to homemade soups of all kinds, so I of course ordered a bowl of the mushroom and kale soup as well as half of the Tangy Beef sandwich. My mom also ordered a bowl of the kale soup. Not long after ordering one of the owners came out to tell us that we had cleaned them out of soup for the day, so to make up for the lack of soup they brought us out another half Tangy Beef and a Mooffaletta.

Tangy Beef with fresh lettuce

Tangy Beef with fresh lettuce

Although we got the bottom of the soup pot, it was still delicious. For being a vegan friendly soup I was surprised at how creamy it was. Unfortunately most the mushrooms and bits of kale were tiny, but I’ll chalk that up to it being the last bowl of the day.  The tangy beef sandwich was impressive as well. It consisted of thinly sliced top round, local hydroponic lettuce, a horseradish chive cheese, horseradish sauce and a fresh pretzel bun. I have to say that the lettuce nearly stole the show from the beef. It tasted very fresh and certainly will spoil you from buying greens out of a bag again. There was just enough horseradish spread to give the sandwich flavor, but it was not overwhelming. All and all this was a light tasting, yet filling sandwich.  The Mooffaletta was certainly a heavier sandwich, but satisfying on this crisp day. It consisted of salami, ham, mortadella, mozzarella and provolone cheeses, and an olive spread. All of this was served on toasted focaccia bread from Crust and Crumb. With this list of ingredients one would really have to work hard to not make it delicious and luckily Cow and Sow didn’t. I thought the prices were reasonable given the quality and quantity of the food.

Apparently we hit Cow and Sow on one of their busiest days, but despite that service was friendly and attentive. I can’t wait to visit Cow and Sow during the summer when local vegetables are in full swing. I’m sure they will be serving up some good stuff, but until then I could go for another bowl or three of their soup.

http://www.cowandsowdeli.com/

Cow and Sow Deli on Urbanspoon

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