Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dining By The Alphabet: Letter I

Letter I is now upon us. We were this close (holding my fingers really close together for those lacking the ability to picture things without me explaining any further) to choosing Imbiss Grill. After looking at the menu and just not feeling in the mood for German food we looked at our other options. IHOP......pass. Il Vicino, we've been there quite a few times in the past month due to charity events.

We also realized the word "Il" pretty much means the and we've said in the past that wouldn't be allowed. But hey, we make the rules so why not allow ourselves to break them? So I bring to your our choice for Letter I

Il Ponte Cafe. Located at 3101 N. Rock Road inside the former Le Monde building. Website and Menu: http://www.ilpontecafe.com/ 

The place inside is pretty fancy. Nice colors inside, very vibrant. One television. Tables in the middle area, booths along the walls, a fully stocked bar. It is one of those places you walk inside and just get a good feeling. It wasn't very busy when we arrived but we were quickly greeted and seated.

Checked the menu over, its similar to other Mediterranean places in Wichita like Cafe Bel Ami, Bella Luna, Adrian's but Il Ponte Cafe advertises themselves as "Specializing in Traditional Italian Cuisine With a Bridge To Mediterranean Flavor"

Where does this rank on the Hummus Challenge?
Today just happened to be Tuesday night so why not thrown in some Appetuesdays! We quickly order the hummus, or as the menu has it "hommos", with pita chips and bread. This gives us ample time to look over the menu. The hummus runs $5.25 and comes out in a decent size bowl. Comparable to Bella Luna size. The pita bread was very warm when it came out. It felt and smelled like it had just grilled or toasted. By far the best pita bread we've ever had among all the places we've tried during the course of this blog. As for the hummus, it was good. We wouldn't say great as its not breathtakingly awesome but it was still worth the price. They added a very nice touch of garlic in the middle as you can see in the picture. We mixed a small portion in with the hummus and it really added a unique taste to it. The server told us, it was a recent addition to their hummus. Well done. How does the hummus compare in our current Hummus Challenge:
1.) M.I.F. Deli
2.) Il Ponte Cafe
3.) Cafe Bel Ami
4.) N&J Cafe

During this time our server comes out and runs by the specials for us. I have the worst attention span when it comes to these. Two things stuck out.....salmon and filet. Tiffany would later fill me in on what they were. She listens.....I don't. Sounds like most relationships huh? When we place our order, I decide to go with their special. It was a poached salmon served with squash, zucchini, this special rice, and either a Caesar salad or a fattoush salad. I order Caesar. The server is quick to ask me if I've ever eaten fattoush salad. I tell him yes and he asks where. So I tell him Cafe Bel Ami and Bella Luna Cafe. The server then goes on to explain how many of the customers prefer their fattoush salad. He says their fattoush salad has been "Americanized", more of an Italian dressing taste and less olive oil. I think about it and am preparing to go with the Caesar. He sees my hesitation and says, "I can bring you out a sample if you'd like to try it out." to which I oblige. He brings it out and it looks like your everyday fattoush salad. Upon the first bite, I can really tell the difference. Tiffany tried a bit and could tell the difference as well. One noticeable ingredient they added was chopped up pickles, not sure if this is in other fattoush salads but I've never noticed it until now. I liked it. Decided to go ahead and order the fattoush. I loved how the server was very helpful and went the extra mile to offer an item that was very popular for their restaurant to which he would gain nothing cause it wasn't an upsell. Tiffany decided to go with the chicken pesto panini with a Caesar side salad.

The food came out promptly.

First bite into my salmon, it was delicious. Flaky, the sauce was excellent, the rice......well I consider myself to be a "Professor of Rice" or "The Dean of Rice University" so to speak. Their rice was as Tiffany put it, "absolutely delicious". We just had to ask what was in it and tell him we loved it. The server said it was some sort of pasta fried in olive oil that was put in with the grain rice, there was a mention of jasmine. I couldn't make out the spelling of the pasta but he said it was pronounced chi-ray. Never heard of it but it was great nonetheless. The two pieces of shrimp were a little dry; was not a big fan. Tiffany thought the panini was delicious. She liked her Caesar salad, she did comment on the size of their "side salad". Pretty big to the point she couldn't finish it. We were both stuffed before even finishing our meal. I then asked the server what all was in the rice again and he explained it a second time. I missed it. Tiffany asked if she could ever order it just as a side. You are allowed to.

I manage to finish my meal and Tiffany grabs half her panini to go. The server asked us if we have room for dessert. Not tonight. Stuffed to the brim. He then mentions they have half priced wines on Monday and Wednesday. Plus on Sundays they have a lunch buffet from 11 am to 3 am. They offer everything from the salmon to the fattoush salad to the rice (way to twist our arms sir, well played). Its something we'd definitely recommend. He then boxed up the rest of Tiffany's meal. On his way back he even brought us back a little to go box of the rice we loved as a complimentary item. Very very very nice touch. Freebies aren't required, it was just the cherry on top to what had been an excellent night of service. Seriously one of the best in our time of Dining by the Alphabet.

We get our ticket and for the appetizer, two side salads, and two meals, we were looking at $30. Fortunately  the Entertainment Book had a $5 off a $25 meal purchase. So our bill was $25. We tipped him, left the collector's "Wichita By E.B." card and made our way out the door.

Letter I ended up as a success. How big of a success? That all depends on the Super Scientific Scale. After much deliberation taking into account price, service, quality of food, here's how it played out. Tiffany thought about it, discussed it, voiced her thoughts, made the comparisons and she gave Il Ponte Cafe, 5 out of 5 stars. I had already made my mind up before the tab came out as I had an idea of how much it'd be. Me? 5 stars.

So Wichita By E.B. readers we have our first ever perfect score. Il Ponte Cafe Super Scientific Scale Rating: 5 stars. 

We highly recommend this place to anybody looking for a little Mediterranean/Italian twist.  That closes out a very successful Letter I and takes us on to Letter J as we continue to head towards the halfway point.

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Happy Dining.


Il Ponte on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

* it looks like your everyday fattoush salad *

:-)

Todd said...

Sounds like a winner!

Brad said...

Couple of comments:

Imbliss Grille would have been a good place to go considering its the only German resturant in Wichita (and you've been to like 5 mediterrian places already) and not many people know about it.

Also, Fouttouch (sp?) salads typically have pickles in them.

DB_Wichita said...

Megan and I stopped by for lunch today. The server seemed new and had to read the specials off of a note, but the food was excellent.