Thursday, September 8, 2011

Informational Blog: Bella Luna Cafe

Welcome all to the super jam packed blog with pictures galore and food that may blow your mind. This blog is going to be more informational based than it will be an actual review. I was invited out to Bella Luna this week and was accompanied by a group of friends. So the fact that I didn't pay for the food outside of a tip and reviewing the things like service and timeliness of food coming out would leave me biased in the mind of some readers. Bella Luna is actually one of the highest suggested places I've had ironically enough.
For this informational review, I was joined by five fellow guest diners: Jason, Brandon, Emily and Samantha. They were all open to whatever we would decide to order. No particular food allergies and no biasness towards certain types of food.

Bella Luna is located in Bradley Fair at the southeast corner of 21st and Rock Road. It's located at the north end of Bradley Fair. They actually have three locations in Wichita. Here they are:
  • 4618 E. Central, Suite 50
    Wichita, KS 67208
    316.683.3700
    F: 316.260.3238
    Mon-Sat: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
    Closed Sunday
     
  • 2132 N. Rock Road, Suite 107
    Wichita, KS 67206
    316.634.0008
    F: 316.260.4088
    Mon-Thu: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
    Fri-Sat: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
    Sun: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.
     
  • 2441 N. Maize Rd, Suite 2511
    Wichita, KS 67205
    316.613.3320
    F: 316.613.3381
    Mon-Thu: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
    Fri-Sat: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
    Sun: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

    Check out the menu or the website
In doing this blog, we decided to sample parts of each section of the menu. Most of us when we go to Bella Luna, it's always the same thing we order every time. Just like when I go to Outback, I order the Outback Special. Or when I go to McDonald's, I only go when it's McRib season. Or when I go to Doc's Steakhouse, it's the garlic salad. We are all creatures of habit. So hopefully this informational blog can open your minds to what else Bella Luna has to offer. At the end of each section, I'll have the pictures posted so you can get a visual.

The Appetizers

Humus and Steak
If you love steak. If you love humus. You'll love humus and steak. This was probably the unanimous favorite amongst the five of us. I'll admit, I've only recently had humus for the first time in the past couple years. It's good stuff. Some people say Bella Luna's humus is the best in Wichita. It's definitely up there, so I'll save that opinion for a Hummus Challenge Blog.

Baba Ghanoush
I've had this before at N&J's and at Dillon's. Briefly touched upon it but I was not a fan at N&J's. Bella Luna's version doesn't have so much zing to it. As Emily and Jason put it, it felt like a lighter version of humus. It had a smoky fun flavor to it. It's a good alternative to their humus but honestly if you're going to order one or the order, go humus.

Coconut Shrimp
Brandon thought this was excellent. This was also one of Samantha's favorite. I'm pretty sure she had one more than everyone but I wasn't keeping track! Jason thought it was good but nothing special. I felt the same.

Tabloueh
What is Tabloueh? It's parsley, tomatoes, onions, mint, cracked-wheat, fresh squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. Picture an upscale lettuce wrap from PF Changs with no meat inside. This had tons of flavor, definitely a unique appetizer. We didn't know whether to eat it by hand, by itself or with pita chips. The answer? All three! One person noted it's good in small doses. Something you'll definitely want to share with others.
Steak and Humus

Baba Ghanoush
Coconut Shrimp

Tabloueh
 Salads

Fattoush Salad
(Romaine and iceberg lettuce, mixed fresh vegetables with herbs, toasted pita, parsley, olive oil and lemon juice). I was openly not a big fan of fattoush salad, something I've tried to give a chance to but it was always "eh?". Three of the five of us never actually had the Fattoush salad so it was definitely something new. Samantha thought it was very good as did Brandon. Emily liked it but wouldn't call it the best fattoush she's ever had. It's very popular though and I can see why. It's unique and has a distinct flavor to it. Just not my style I suppose.

Halloumi Salad
This is going to be new to the menu soon so I didn't have the entire description and I probably totally butchered the spelling. From what I can gather it's a salad with a big stick of cheese in the middle. Even though I took a pill beforehand, I just don't like the taste of cheese so passed on this. The other four did try it and were all skeptical. We heard there are people that love this salad and it just might be their love of cheese because the general consensus was this had way too much cheese in it.

Greek Salad
(House lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, artichokes, feta cheese and kalamata olives in a creamy cracked pepper Greek dressing). Everybody enjoyed the Greek salad. They liked the cream dressing and were even noted as something they'll order again as none of us have ever had this before. My taste buds may be out of whack but it had the texture of a creamy Caesar salad but with a different taste.

The Bella Maggi House Salad
(Crisp house salad with artichokes, tomatoes, pecans and shaved Parmesan with a balsamic dressing). Probably the hands down favorite of the group. Samantha thought it was excellent. Brandon thought the same. It was Jason's favorite. It was Emily's favorite. Me? I'm going to second everyone's opinion. It was so full of flavor and the good kind too. Emily noted the extra "kick" in the dressing. I like to order salads with my meals and this will probably be the very first thing before my entree next time I go in.
The Bella Maggi House Salad
Halloumi Salad
Greek Salad
Soups

Chicken Gumbo Soup
This was mine and Brandon's favorite of the three soups. You can't go wrong with good gumbo; it'll get me every time.

Cream of Mushroom Soup
Jason and Emily's favorite of the three. To them, it was creamy and delicious just like gravy.

Lentil Soup
Probably the least liked of the three. Samantha didn't seem to like it much. Brandon thought it was okay. I'm not a fan of lentil soup and this really didn't change it much.
 
From bottom right (clockwise) - Lentil Soup, Cream of Mushrom Soup, Chicken Gumbo
 Entrees

Pasta Carbonara
(Rotini pasta tossed with crisp bacon, peas, mushrooms and pecorino Romano cheese in a creamy alfredo sauce). Jason loved pancetta and thought this was a very fresh tasting dish. This was his second favorite entree of the night. Brandon never had it before but was expecting more flavor in the dish. I kind of felt the same way. I was hoping for more and compared to the other dishes I tried, I preferred the other.

Chicken and Shrimp au Poivre
(Grilled chicken and shrimp with peppercorn sauce). Based off of the cool name, I figured I'd like it. If I ever have a kid I might even consider naming him/her au Poivre because it just sounds cool and I don't even know what it means. Samantha thought it was excellent, loved the shrimp of course! Emily said it was a favorite entree of hers. She loved the sauce and the veggies. I loved the shrimp and the chicken tasted fresh and wasn't too dry. It's a good meal if you like chicken meals which I tend not to order much if given other options.

Steak Sandwich
(six ounces of sliced beef rib eye, with onions, mushrooms, and jalapeño cheese on a baguette). Technically not an entree but we had to try it after one of our Restaurant General Manager friends of another establishment gave rave reviews on this. Brandon thought this was excellent. Emily differed and would prefer the Chicken Shawarmah if given the choice. I liked it for the sliced rib eye alone.

Chicken Curry
(Sautéed marinated chicken with onions, mushrooms and squash in a light curry sauce over house rice). As Brandon put it, "intense flavor". It's a little on the slightly spicier side. Jason liked this spicy yet sweet dish a lot. He would order it again. Some people may be scared of trying a curry dish but as Emily put it, this is a good place to start. I haven't made up my mind yet on what I think about it. There was definitely some good flavor to it but the curry aftertaste always gets to me. But I'll note it's one of the better curry dishes I've had in Wichita.

Prime Rib Eye Steak
(12 oz. Prime Beef cafe d' paris). Based off of everyone's first bite, this was the favorite of the night. Brandon thought it was excellent. Emily was a fan. I loved it. Jason seemed as if he was prepared to drop his wedding ring and have me officiate the wedding of Jason and Prime Rib Eye Steak. Very tender. You barely had to chew it. Jason says, "It was prepared to perfection and seasoned nicely." I could have imagined it but Jason might have cried tears of joy upon each bite. Seriously, he was that into it.
Steak Sandwich entering the mouth........

From the bottom left (clockwise) - Prime Rib Eye, Chicken Curry, Pasta Carbonara and
Shrimp and Chicken au Poivre
Dessert
(don't ask me how any of us made room for dessert. If you need a reason, my reason is "That's called dedication to blogging.)

Red Velvet
The least sweet of the desserts and a nice even way to finish the meal. It didn't have all the flavor in the world you associate with other red velvet desserts.

Chocolate Cake
Brandon thought this was very good. I thought it was rich but then again, I think any chocolate is rich in flavor.

Raspberry Cheesecake
Samantha thought it was very good. Emily's favorite of the night. She loved the Oreo cookie crust and thought it complimented the creaminess and raspberry-ness nicely. Wait..... It raspberry-ness a word?

Carrot Cake
Probably Brandon and Samantha's favorite of the night.

Tiramisu Cake
My favorite of the night. I'm not sure what's all in it or even how to spell it. I googled it. There were bits of cocoa in it, bits of some sort of coffee flavor and bits of love mixed in with it.

Far left (clockwise) - Red Velvet, Chocolate Cake, Raspberry Cheesecake, Carrot Cake and Tiramisu
and my glass of wine in the middle
 Closing Thoughts

There's a reason UrbanSpoon has Bella Luna listed as their #1 Casual Dining spot. The atmosphere inside is great. Plus it's a locally owned restaurant that serves a wide variety of tasty dishes. Many of us have stuck to ordering just the same thing and never branched out. This was a good way for us to try different things so when we stop by again, we can order a meal totally new to us. Bella Luna has a wide variety of appetizers (more than just Humus), an assortment of salads, sandwiches and entrees to please your taste buds. There's something on here for everybody.

They have an extensive drink menu and a great selection of wines. I'm not a fan of wines but we all decided to go ahead and try out some different ones. I liked a couple that we ordered. I think the average "wine snob" would call what I like girlie wines but my wine knowledge is so limited. At my house is a small wine fridge with an assortment of different wines. I couldn't tell you what is what. It's just filled for when guests come over. I'll drink it if I have to.

And guys. LADIES LOVE BELLA LUNA. I'm telling ya'. If you ever need a place for a first date. Bella Luna is the place to take her. You can't go wrong. Husbands, if your wife is ever mad at you for whatever reason outside of cheating, take her to Bella Luna. Buy her happiness back. I haven't met many girls that dislike Bella Luna.

And ladies. LADIES LOVE BELLA LUNA. If you have a sister tha......you get the point.
Hope you enjoyed the Super Informational Blog and all the pictures. I actually took some video and I'll get that on here when I'm done editing it. It's only like 20 seconds long.

Up next Letter M. If you have any restaurant reviews or opinions you'd like to share for our next Reader Grab Bag, just e-mail wichitabyeb@gmail.com or you can Facebook it to us!


Happy Dining all. I'll be at Zoobilee this weekend so maybe a review on that if I can remember the events!

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2 comments:

Carrie said...

Love the blog and love Bella Luna!

Tomi said...

Super blog! I'm excited to visit again and try something other than my usual.