Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Feature: "Wichita's Best Pizza"

Pizza. Its something Wichita has a lot of.

Outside of your major chains like Domino's, Pizza Hut and Papa John's, we still have a ton of different places that Wichitans can still go out to eat.

Head over to a place like Urban Spoon or look in the phone book if you still have one of those. If I have any readers under the age of 10, a phonebook is this big book that lists phone numbers inside it. It used to be real popular a long time ago.

Deciding which pizza place to go to is a tough decision. With so many options on pizza, it really comes down to taste. Most pizza places I've been to in Wichita have about the same service level. Plus at some places they just give you your pizza and have their own refill station for drinks. So when deciding on a great pizza place, it's about about taste and what you like.

Well Wichita By E.B. is here to help. I'm starting an additional feature called "Wichita's Best Pizza". I'll be taking suggestions over the new few weeks. From that list, I'll narrow it down the most popular 10-12 pizza places. At least once a month, I will be gathering a "Committee" of sorts to go and try a different pizza place. I will try to keep the committee the same main group of fellow eaters and add some newbies randomly through the months that may make an appearance or two. Consistency is key though so having the same group in my committee is the biggest factor. We will try their version of a supreme pizza, a "meat lover's" style pizza and another popular pizza they offer. My committee will then rate their pizza on a list of criteria that has yet to be determined. Total work in progress and something I've been wanting to do for a while but haven't got around to it.

This will be a year-long adventure and by August of 2012, I hope to be able to make a very educated recommendation on what Wichita By E.B. would consider as Wichita's Best Pizza.

So if you have the time, the typing ability, please start throwing those suggestions by posting a comment to this blog. I'll also be gathering suggestions all over the place: on our twitter site, facebook site, the blog, forums, etc. What we're looking for is not just one place but a list of 3-10 places you would consider as your favorites. You can also e-mail your list to wichitabyeb@gmail.com

Time starts now. All suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Letter K blog will be in the works this week, just working on some pictures.

Happy Dining.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dining By The Alphabet: Letter J

Dining By The Alphabet Letter J..........

I've had a lot of time to sit and ponder where to go for Letter J. There were actually quite a few options out there on where to go. While narrowing down the list, I wanted to aim for obviously something local that you can't find anywhere else. A place unique that maybe not a lot of people have been to before.

Narrowed my list down even further and eventually decided on the following place.

For some reason my left leg must have been longer than my
right leg thus the Leaning Tower of John Browns picture
John Brown's. This is located on Douglas between Hillside ansd Oliver in Clifton Square. Its stuck in the far back so be careful not to pass it. According to their website: "John Browns brings a unique restaurant and lounge concept to Wichita. John Browns serves lunch, drinks and unique desserts."
3700 E Douglas
Suite 78
Wichita, KS 67208
Ph: 316.686.5299
Ph: 316.765.4723
Fax: 316.821.9597
Website Link with Menu

Walking in, the place is a little small. To the point I could hear almost everybody's conversations. I didn't hear any good gossip from others though. I felt as though the inside looked like a country club restaurant inside while my guest reviewer this week, Kim, said it best. It looks like the place where Anchorman played the jazz flute. Hilarious and very very true.



Upon being seated, we were greeted by our server. Very polite, very attentive, you could tell he was working hard. I started off with a draft beer (domestics are only $2 on Monday nights!) and Kim started off with a glass of wine. Our server knew the wines that were on hand but we sort of got the feeling he didn't know much about the wines. That's ok though. We won't knock any points off for that. He's a server and it’s not exactly a "wine restaurant". Hell, I drive cars and only know how to put gas in there, that's it. Does that mean I shouldn't be a driver?


Lactose Pill required!
 Started off with an appetizer. There was an array of choices and it came down to the Spinach Artichoke Dip and the Hummus. I asked our server if he HAD to choose, which would it be. I originally wanted to ask him, "If you were stuck on a deserted island and you were about to die and God asked you which you would rather have to save your life, Artichoke Dip or Hummus, which would it be?" but I think the first question served the same purpose. Our server said Spinach Artichoke Dip. That's what we went with. The artichoke dip was pretty good. It wasn't the best we've ever had and it wasn't the worst either. At just a little under $10, it could be seen as pricey for some people.

Throughout this time, our server was checking up on us and making sure our drinks were filled in a timely manner.

After a while we decided to order our entrees. Our server said the Havana (a Cuban) was the most popular item on the menu. Kim decided to go with that and I went with the Chicken Caesar Wrap which was one of their specials of the day. The sides we were offered: kettle chips, cottage cheese and vegetables (carrots, celery sticks, etc, pretty much the stuff you see in those serving trays at Dillon’s or Wal-Mart). Since we just had the vegetables on the artichoke dip and cottage cheese didn't sound tempting, we each went with the kettle chips.


The best part?
The Pickle
 Didn't wait too long for the food to come out. We split our meals so each of us could try the Havana and the Chicken Caesar Wrap. I took one bite into my wrap and I'm pretty sure the insides just exploded out of the wrap. I had sauce dripping out, a tomato hanging loose. Thing would not stay together. Kim noticed the same thing too. I'm by no means a cook but she said it could have been something that is easily made at home. Canned chicken, Caesar dressing and a random tomato. A random tomato that refuses to stay in its wrap! Unfortunately I wasn't too impressed with the wrap and neither was Kim. To be totally honest, I didn't even finish my wrap. Well I did the pickle!

We'll keep our comments
to ourselves on this one.
The Havana aka the Cuban was next up on the hit list. I take a bite. I chew a bit and swallow the food. I don't smile. I look across and watch Kim take a bit (that sounds creepy just typing it out!) and she doesn't look too impressed either. For the same price she said she's had better Cubans at The Anchor and Granite City. What's more unfortunate is if that's the best thing on their menu, I wonder what their worst thing on the menu tastes like. I don't think I'll comment much on the kettle chips. They could be store bought for all I know. Nothing special whatsoever. It would have been nice if fries were an option or grilled veggies. Kettle chips seemed to be the safest pick between the three side items offered. If another beer was a side, I’d easily have gone that route.

Writing reviews like this sucks sometimes because in a perfect world, we'd all want local establishments to be totally successful and worth every dollar spent. But this is reality and on Wichita By E.B., every restaurant we go to doesn't get a ribbon or trophy like kids do in sports these days.

So to be honest, Kim and I were not fans of this place. We would have been fine with just drinks and the appetizer. I know others who go here for drinks and that's totally fine. Probably served best that way. The food was less than desirable and we can't recommend this place as a food option.

The service was good. Our server did everything he could to make it an enjoyable experience for us but that just wasn't enough. Don Henley or Patti Smith should write a song about how "Sometimes service just ain't enough" to the same tune of "Sometimes love just ain't enough". I'd totally buy that single.

Our total bill for drinks, appetizers and two entrees came out to be $34 not including tip. In a summary of the three ratings factors: Service was good, Price isn't outrageous but for the money the food wasn't that good and the food....well that's already been touched upon.

Kim ended up giving this place a score, a 2.5 and I went with a 1.5 so readers doing that math that is a final score of 2.

I want to thank Kim for being my guest diner for this week's Dining By The Alphabet. Our guest diner for Letter K and L are all lined up and to catch up on lost time, we'll be cranking out some letters in the next week.

If you would like to be a guest diner for Dining by the Alphabet, just shoot me an e-mail at wichitabyeb@gmail.com.

Leave a comment! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Happy Dining.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Return of Wichita By E.B.: Exploration Place Reviewed

Welcome back to Wichita By E.B.

A lot has changed in the past month and a half since my last blog. I have received many e-mails and questions about what happened to the blog and if it was gone. It was nice to receive the outpouring of support, knowing there are some of you out there crazy enough to waste your time reading a blog from a guy who doesn't proofread his entries. Still working on the site design and considering moving to Wordpress, that will be decided later.

Well I am back and ready to continue bringing you the goodness that is Wichita. The format has changed as will the restaurants. I'll now be blogging all restaurants with a different guest eater each time I go out. I have a nice little lineup of people who will be joining me on my different ventures out into the food world. A few of the letters in the future have been reserved from different friends who will be joining me in "Dining by the Alphabet" which also makes its return this week.

I've taken notes of different blog ideas, stories and ideas to write about over the hiatus. So you can be on the lookout for all sorts of new blogs in the near future.

With that said, I bring you to the review of Exploration Place.

====================================

I had a hot date Sunday night. When I say hot, I am totally referring to the weather and the date was with my two five year old nieces and my three year old nephew. I wanted to take them out to do something fun, make sure they still see me as the coolest person they know, and check out something I haven't been to in some time. It was way too hot outside to go miniature golfing, a park or even the zoo. So Exploration Place was the final decision.

http://www.exploration.org/index.php
300 N. McLean Blvd.
Wichita, Kansas 67203
Phone: 316-660-0600
Fax: 316-660-0670

If you want me to do a food review on where we went beforehand for lunch, I can. They chose McDonald's. Total gut bomb! They wanted McNuggets. So they split a 20 pcs nuggets and more fries than I could imagine. I'm not a fan of McDonald's so I went with two McChickens and some fries. I only finished one McChicken and was going to toss the second away. Of course if you have something wrapped up, kids are going to ask what it is. I told them, "It's a McChicken, I doubt you guys will like it." I was right. After splitting my second McChicken three ways, they ate just the bread. So after one entire cup of water spilled on the ground, ketchup spill on one t-shirt, a creepy old man staring at us from the corner, and four soon to be stomach aches later, we were on our way to (Eddy in the car: "Where we going guys?") EXPLOWATION PWACE!!!!!!

We arrive, lots of cars out on a Sunday afternoon....as expected. Lots of moms and babysitters with their kids. Maybe this wasn't such a bad idea! We go to the guest counter and pay for our tickets. I had one Buy One Get One Free, so the total price for us for ended up being $16.00. Not too bad. On to the exhibits!

(Unfortunately I did not get any exclusive pictures of the exhibits by themselves. They were all with my nieces and nephew in them and just didn't feel like posting their pics on here).

As we walked down the corridor, they have these little CSI: Crime Scene Investigation displays. Each was about the size of a larger shoebox. In many of them, the kids were like "Look Eddy! It’s so small. There's a guy sleeping there too!" Not wanting to break the bad news to them I would reply, "Um.....yeah he sure is sleeping. And what do you know! He has ketchup on his shirt just like you!"

The kids have been to EP more times than I have so they knew what they wanted to see and do. Their first choice "Exploring Flight and Design". It celebrates the world of aviation. They ran right to the flight simulators. We waited in line and they took turns hopping in and pretending to be a pilot. With me as their passenger, my life was doomed the moment I stepped in. We crashed and burned 6 times.

Next up was a little flight simulation on the Wright Brothers first plane. They tried to fly that as well. Result? Just the same, outside of the burn. They crashed and crumbled 6 times.

They had all sorts of brain teasers and mind games you could try out like stacking blocks into a box to make a square, putting these golf balls in a shape to form a pyramid, using sticks to make the Letter T. Our success was the same as the flight simulator.

Next up was a paper airplane exhibit. I'm not sure what happened between 1986 and 2011 but my ability to make a decent flying paper airplane has greatly diminished. Imagine a paper airplane shaped like an octopus. Can't? Neither can I but I somehow managed to build one. The physics of it all would tell you that it won't fly well in the air either. Physics are right for a reason.

Soon after, the kids kept talking about seeing the little town. They were referring to the Kansas in Miniature Exhibit which is like a miniature representation of Kansas in the 1950's. All three of them were mesmerized by the train that would come around every couple minutes. They would sit there like zombies; stone-faced........two minutes come by. "THERE IT IS! THERE IT IS!". Then the seconds of excitement would die down while they await the return of the train. Seriously if you're a parent, invest in a train set where the train comes by every hour. This would give you approximately 58 minutes of downtime to do what you wish while your child sits there in anticipation of the train coming. Come back for two minutes to cheer on with your child, "THERE IT IS! THERE IT IS!.....THERE IT GOES! THERE IT GOES!"

After the Miniature exhibit, we came across a little bee display. Walked up to hit, saw no honey and no bees. Walked on the other side, saw one bee. I felt kind of bad for the bee. He or she looked really lonely and lost on what it was doing. It looked really bee-serted!!! (insert silence) Moving on.....

Our next stop was "Kid's Explore". It allows you to travel to the days of knights in shining armor, towering stone castles, and more in a three-story medieval kid’s castle. The most time was easily spent here just riding the fake horses, putting on medieval clothes and running around the castle. Nothing says fun like roaming a castle with thirty kids running frantically, bumping into you left and right. There's this little crawl space you can go into to enter a random hallway. After some "peer pressure", I gave it a try and a seven year old about took my head off when I looked inside. Just going from one end of the hallway to the other was similar to a game of Frogger. Luckily I made it to the other end alive.

Our last stop was "Exploring Our Home". This exhibit explores Kansas, its people, places and environment. There were all sorts of little creatures like snakes, spiders and lizards on display. You could see how a tornado is formed. There was also an exhibit where you could step inside and experience what an EF1 twister felt like (that's about 79 miles per hour). It’s free to step in and there are a lot of kids who love to step inside. Side note: some parents really need to teach their kids some manners and not cut in front or open up the exhibit door when somebody is currently inside. It was somewhat annoying having other kids get in our way. I had no idea so I tried to give them the same look my mom would give me when I got in trouble. The look! The kids would just look at me like some weirdo and go about their business. Lesson learned: I do not have "The Look" perfected yet and probably never will.

About three hours later, I was exhausted. I have to give credit to all parents out there. I spent three hours and was drained. Multiply that times 8 for a full day and I might have died of exhaustion. "Sunday Fun Day" with the kids turned out to "Sunday Birth Control" for me. I love them to death but man that's a lot of energy keeping track of three kids by yourself!

Exploration Place was good times, affordable and the kids seemed to enjoy it. On the car ride home, I looked back and asked, "Did you guys enjoy it?"

The response I received ("zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"). They were all out.

Could this be a place you go to a lot? Probably not. The main portion of EP doesn't change too much. They have other attractions that cost a little extra but I've never tried it. EP is also used for other events. I believe "Death by Chocolate" took place here as do weddings. I was even in a wedding at Exploration Place last summer.

If you haven't been, I suggest its something everybody should go to at least once. If you have kids, they should love this place. There's a little bit of something there or everyone.

So that's Exploration Place for you all.

Be on the look out for the next blog coming up which in all likelihood will be "Dining by the Alphabet: Letter J" followed by an “AppeTuesdays” blog. I have some major catching up to do so I hope you're all ready to read!

Feel free to leave a comment. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

Happy Dining.

Sunday, July 24, 2011