Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Special Dining Report: Ziggy'z Pizza

I know readers. Letter U is up next and it's been a while since I've done a Dining by the Alphabet. It will come, just bear with me :)

I gave up fried foods for Lent and that is really hindering my number one option for Letter U. But in the meantime, how about them Shockers? Regular season champions. Only one road loss, 16-2 in the conference. This has been a very impressive team. We are heading to St. Louis Thursday. So I’m really hoping this tradition of cutting down nets continues. Don't forget to vote every day for David Kyles. Don't know what I'm talking about? Head here. Facebook.com/collegeslam

Anyhow, after the Shockers win on Senior Day, a group of six of us decided to stop by a local pizza joint for dinner and drinks. The place? Ziggy's Pizza.

Ziggy's Pizza was opened by two brothers Ryan and Jamie Verbeckmoes. Both avid Wichita State fans, so they automatically received plus points from me.

Ziggy's is located in Clifton Square near Douglas and Hillside. It's in the old Bay Leaf Cafe. Yeah....I'm thinking Ziggy's is a much better option for that building than Bay Leaf.

Ziggy's Pizza
3700 E Douglas #100
Wichita, KS 67208

The website is currently under construction but you can view the menu online: http://www.ziggyswichita.com/

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Upon entering, we were greeted warmly by their servers. Just looking around, the best word to probably describe the insides was "quaint". It was the first word that popped up in my head. After referring to the handy dictionary.com, I was given such definitions as old-fashioned attractiveness or charm, cleverly made, unusual in an interesting, pleasing or amusing way. Ziggy's certainly doesn't look like your average pizza place in Wichita. It has a warming and home-like appeal to it. It definitely fits the College Hill mold. There's also a party room that seats 8 in the back if you're ever interested.


We all had a few drinks to go along with their meals. For you beer connoisseurs, they had Bud Light, Shock Top, Fat Tire, Odell IPA and an assortment of other offerings not on tap. To start off with appetizers, we had garlic bread and cheesy garlic bread. I was told their loaded nachos were excellent but as is the story all the time, loaded nachos equal a loaded stomach for me. No cheese please.

The garlic bread was excellent. Cooked just right and much better with their marinara sauce.


Next up was dinner time. We glanced through the menu. Their sandwiches I didn't look over much but noticed their clever names like "Cluck Norris", "Parmageddon", and "Ham Dunk". I love plays on words. They give me a good laugh. I've always wanted to create a sushi roll with eel and call it "Eel Magnolias". 

We decided to pass on the sandwiches and all order three different pizzas. One of the gentlemen in our group is a picky eater and only eats what he wants, so we went with the "Meet Me at Ziggy's" pizza to satisfy him. (Pepperoni, Italian sausage, smoked bacon, ground beef, Canadian bacon and marinara). With many people in the group a fan of pizza tacos, we ordered the "Mamacita's Taco Pizza" (A thin layer of refried beans, topped with ground beef, onion, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and Doritos). Yes that read Doritos. It's all sprinkled across very lightly. Then for the third, we asked the owners which one they suggested. Without hesitation, we were told "White Delight" (Grilled chicken, smoked bacon, green peppers and red onions on cream cheese, side of marinara). I guess pizzas with cream cheese are popular in Lawrence and Manhattan where one of the brothers went to school. All the specialty pizzas run $10.99 except for the "Cheese Johnson" (nice WSU reference by the way).

The difference between Ziggy's and other places is that their pizzas are made in rectangular form and slices cut into squares. It didn't take too long for our pizzas to come out.

Meat Me at Ziggy's
Mamacita's Taco Pizza
White Delight
Five of the six in the group each had at least one slice of each different pizza. And wouldn't you believe it; no single pizza was chosen more than twice as their favorite. Two people liked the "Meat Me" the most, two chose the "White Delight" and the final person chose the "Taco Pizza". The "Meat Me" was the favorite of the three I tried. It's your typical meat lover’s pizza which I never even order in the first place. I was asked by another person if I ate the crust because I'm notorious for throwing them away. I did eat my crust. The dough they use for their pizza I think is what stood out most for me. It really made the different. As for my thoughts on the "White Delight", it was ok on the first couple bites but the cream cheese through me off and really overpowered every other flavor the pizza had. I think it's because I NEVER eat cream cheese because every single other person commented how they could barely taste the cream cheese and loved the pizza. So take that for what it's worth. The Taco Pizza was really good especially with the salsa on top. A suggestion I had along with others was to possibly melt the cheese a little on top. Not a single person at the table mentioned disliking their pizza and each had a favorite go to pizza for their next slice. One person commented how they loved the sauce on their pizza. Another discussed how no pizza had an overwhelming flavor stick out to make them hate the pizza. Overall, Ziggy's was very well received.

Usually when I go to pizza places with groups of others and order an assortment of pizzas, one pizza will stick out as the overwhelming favorite amongst the group. Such was not the case with Ziggy's. I'd be really interested in going back to try their sandwiches which I've heard good things about and some of their other specialty pizzas.

One thing our server forgot to tell us was "You pay for your tab at the register." We kind of sat that waiting on our ticket before we had to ask. All the quirks of a new restaurant! I will for sure be back soon to see if the quality and service remain the same level as some restaurants in Wichita seem to lose ground at over time. The owners are very active and hands-on in their restaurant so that's a good sign.

I'd definitely recommend Ziggy's to you all. Give it a try and see what you think about it for yourselves. I know I will be back soon!

Otherwise, we're bound for St. Louis on Thursday. GO SHOX!

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quick Thoughts: Chapada Chophouse & Churrascaria

Been pretty busy as of late and wanted to give you guys some material to read. So figured a little quick thought on some of the restaurants as I wait for Letter U would help. Enjoy!


2142 North Tyler Road, Wichita, KS
(316) 201-4694
 
I had a chance to go here a couple weeks ago.  Chapada is similar to the Fogo De Chao where they bring you unlimited meat on these skewers.
 
Tiffany and I stopped by on a weekend night and sat for about 20-30 minutes. It was quite a wait and the place was busy as were most restaurants on the west side of town. Yes, we actually came from Longhorn where there was an even longer wait.
 
The two of us had the Meat Buffet and Salad Bar. For $30 it's a decent value if you just hoard yourself with meat like I saw others around me but for a third of that price you could fill yourself up on an Outback Special at a third of the cost.

We had 7 different types of meat ranging from ribeye, sausages, pork tenderloin, bacon wrapped chicken, chicken, beef tips, etc. I liked two of the seven while Tiffany liked one of the seven. (We both liked the ribeye). I was hoping for something like a filet but no dice.

The salad bar was ok, I wouldn't say it was great. I had a cup of their chili and bland and boring were the best words to describe it with. There's also a little olive and cheese bar if you're into that sort of thing.

The service was very good. They kept our drinks refilled and the gouchos (or whatever they call themselves) always made it a point to make sure we had enough meat on our plates and constantly asked if there was anything we needed. The girls outfits were a little odd. Yes, they wear short shorts but that mixed with boots just didn't look right to us. I'm glad the guys didn't have to wear that. This is all different than experiences I've heard where service was bad. So either we came on a good night or I'm finally starting to get recognized in Wichita and the good service is coming!!!!

Our total bill with tip was a little over $80 so yes a little pricey but you don't have to go the buffet route as they have regular meals.

Not sure if I'll be making it back.
 
Don't have any pictures. I switched over to an iPhone recently and so far can't find an app that allows you to upload photos to PiCasa or something similar for free. Any suggestions?

8 Rules For How To Be A Shocker Fan in a Bar

That time has come again. The time when Shocker fans come out in droves. A time a casual person will read the news and notice the Shockers are ranked and pull out their old "2006 Wichita State Sweet 16" t-shirt because that's the only one they own. They'll make their way to the bars and mispronounce every Shocker name from Stooootz to Tower-ray to "that Nigerian guy". Yes, it's bandwagon time.

I know that all sounds like bandwagon fans annoy me. It used to but it really doesn't anymore. At a time like this, merchandise sales go up and media publicity shoots through the roof. All of this benefits not just the Athletic Department but Wichita State University as well so I'm cool with that. It benefits the city of Wichita too. Bars in Wichita are getting all excited because they can just see those bar tabs getting bigger and sales going up. And to top it off, people in Wichita finally realize that there is another basketball team in the state of Kansas that isn't located in Manhattan or Lawrence. The pros outweigh the cons.

What this blog is about is how to handle yourself as a fan in a bar. It's ok to be rowdy at times and briefly obnoxious at times but you only get a few passes for that like if it's a game winner or a crazy play that completed a comeback or something.

What brought this on was I went to Emerson Biggins to watch the game with friends and it was possibly one of the most annoying experiences ever. The ideal situation is to watch it at home amongst friends of by myself just so I can hear and experience it all. I've gone out to bars on many occassions to watch games before but man, last night was brutal outside of locking up the Regular Season title!!!!

Anyways I bring you Wichita By E.B's 8 Rules For How To Be A Shocker Fan in a Bar:
If you're going to support the Shockers, don't go in the bar wearing a KU or K-State shirt. You lose all credibility.

Learn to pronounce the players’ names right. People will just look at you and laugh if you say Garrett Stutz' name as Garrett Stoootz. Stootz just sounds Canadian which he's not.

Do not act like each bucket was the act of god. Some gentleman last night was whistling as loud as he could after nearly every bucket. Dude....."Act like you have been there."

If you go to a bar and they turn the sound off and switch it to a KU or K-State game, let the employees know. Or better yet, boycott that bar for WSU games.

Don't make fun of the other team's student section when you're one of the 30-40 year olds that sit in the front row of the student section for our home games.

You are not a commentator. It's ok to talk amongst friends and make comments here and there but don't be that guy who analyzes EVERY SINGLE PLAY with "he should have done this" or "he sucks, coach needs to take him out" or "don't ever pass him the ball". Let me repeat, on EVERY SINGLE PLAY!

If we beat a team who beat another team, don't assume we're automatically better than said team and brag about it. Just because UNLV beat North Carolina and Davidson beat KU, doesn't mean Wichita State is automatically better than North Carolina and KU. Remember Missouri State beat Creighton, that doesn't make them better than us since we beat Missouri St.

Remember personal hygiene. We don't want to be known as the "stinky fans" now do we?
Any of you have rules to add to this blog?

Otherwise, who else is looking forward to the MVC Tournament and March Madness? This truly has all the makings of a magical year. We just have to keep playing at the high level we are at. Gregg Marshall has done a fantastic job. And like all of you, I too am loving every second of it.


Senior Night this Saturday at home. Game is already sold out but if you can find a way to get a ticket to the game, I urge you all to go. Saw this online, figured I'd pass it on


Go Shox!



Friday, February 17, 2012

One Year Anniversary

Today marks the One Year Anniversary for Wichita By EB!

Thanks to everybody who has read all of our blogs or even a portion of them. Definitely enjoy writing them and look forward to continuing all the eating my body will allow!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pacific Coast Pizza's Reply!

Way way back in October, many of you may have read my Pacific Coast Pizza Dilemma blog.

I wrote about how I tried reaching out to Pacific Coast Pizza only to receive no replies from them. Their wings are some of my favorite in town and I was reaching out to them in hopes they would improve their service instead of writing an entire blog blasting them. Well since I didn't receive a reply, I wrote the blog.

I was cleaning out my mailbox and noticed days after my blog, I finally received a reply from them which honestly was all I ever wanted. The e-mail must have gotten lost in the shuffle. But here's the reply:
Hello, I would like to start by saying that I still do not see and email from you in our inbox and had no idea of any issues until seeing the link to your blog post on our facebook page. I yes I did delete the link to your blog. With that said.. I am the owners wife and I am equally as upset about the service that you and many other people have been receiving lately. We are trying so hard to do everything that we can to fix the issues with our service and make all of our customer happy 100% of the time. I wish i would have been in the restaurant so that you could have spoken to me personally about this upsetting service when it took place. We have put into place a few steps to try and fix the issues we have had such as, retraining our staff when needed, performing more frequent staff evaluations, giving customer comment/suggestions cards so we know where we need to improve and using secret shopping to evaluate us randomly so we know how we are ALL performing as a staff together and where changes still need to be made. If you have any suggestions I would be happy to hear them. This is my personal email address which I check multiple times a day, so feel free to email me anytime. Also, If you would be interested I would love to have you come in as a secret shopper in about a month and evaluate the changes we have made. If you are willing to do this to help us improve our service I will email the secret shopper evaluation list to use on your visit. I will mail you a gift card to cover the expenses for your visit. I'm sorry that you felt you issues were of no concern to us, but i assure you they are. If you never eat here again I would at least like for you to know that we will be doing everything we can to change your mind and anyone else who has ever had a bad experience in our restaurant.
Let it be known, I have not been back to Pacific Coast Pizza in sometime. I was so turned off my the whole experience that I figured I would just find food elsewhere. A reply was given back and I do intend on going back soon with hopes their service has improved. I'm interested to see if the exact same wait staff is there from beforehand. I'm all about second chances or in Pacific Coast Pizza's third or fourth...... So here's to another try at PCP. I'll definitely report back my findings........

Monday, February 13, 2012

Project Minimum Wage: The Final Reflection

I've had over a good week to soak in the end of Project Minimum Wage along with a fantastic Shockers road win in Omaha accompanied by three good friends as we sat in the CenturyLink Center watching thousands of fans exit the arena with many minutes left on the clock.

But a reflection on the Shockers total beat down of the Bluejays is not what's at hand, it's Project Minimum Wage.

When I last left you guys, I had $22 left for an entire Friday. After Friday and a buddy's "surprise" birthday party, I was down to zero. It was expected. I kind of knew that was going to happen. Ideally and in a perfect world, I would have liked to have a little left to save. Let's be honest though, would I have even been in this position if Lady Luck didn't come knocking on my door with bingo winnings?

I'll be the first to admit, Project Minimum Wage wasn't the closest to a real life replica of what one person goes through. With so many factors in my life, I couldn't have done it. Along with the regular bills one goes through as a homeowner, car bills, medical bills, social life, etc, no way I could have done Project Minimum Wage.

After a whole month of doing Project Minimum Wage, the first thing that came to mind was "Thank God that's over."  Many things I took for granted, I realized during January such as going out and buying a new shirt, taking someone to go see a late night showing of a movie instead of a matinee, a nice dinner at a restaurant, road trips, etc. I was also fortunate not to incur any unexpected costs one may have in a month such as a doctor's visit or car issues. Oddly enough, one of my tires blew out a few days after Project Minimum Wage was over. That would have been an unexpected cost that could have set me back.

All in all, I can't live on Minimum Wage. Don't think there's any way I could do it unless FORCED to. I had free dinners and drinks offered my way during the month; I'm not going to lie. Sometimes I accepted, sometimes I didn't. I turned down the free dinners more so than the free drinks. :)

I think through January, the people I feel more for are the families that struggle not just on minimum wage but also ones making barely above that. Take for instance the families that work on a Wal-Mart salary with a couple kids at home. Some of those kids don't have the luxuries many of us take for granted. I'm not trying to come off as "high and might" and "holier than thou" but sometimes I guess it's good to sit back and think about stuff like that. Yes, those families sometimes receive assistance from the government, church and charities but it's still a struggle for them.

Outside of all those social issues, I learned many other things such as "where a kitchen is at in a house." Sometimes one of the common things a person points out is how clean my kitchen is. Well that's because I never use it. Eating out was one of the bigger expenses I would have monthly, literally eating out multiple times a day, never bringing my lunch to work. The entire month of January and even up until this day, I have not spent a single dollar eating out for lunch. It's been stuff from home or last night's dinner that has been my lunch for the day. Through all the decades I've spent in my life eating, it never occurred to me just how easy some of the meals are to make outside of ramen noodles and mac and cheese. It's starting to make me wonder if my mom and aunt really "slaved away" in the kitchen for hours cooking the meals for me growing up. (Note: they probably did!).

Also Aldi's, what a different experience that was! Since that fateful day, I'm now the owner of a few shopping bags. One of the coolest things about Aldi's is how they charge for shopping bags. Literally all places in Wichita should do this. When I was in D.C., the Walgreen's charged 7-8 cents a bag. Loved that practice along with the shopping carts and the quarter. People should put their carts away and the quarter may help that. I've had my car scratched by a random shopping cart before; it's not fun.

I also think I'm a spending addict. There were days on Minimum Wage, I would find myself wanting to go to Wal-Mart just to look around. Is anybody else like that? During Project Minimum Wage, I've been more price conscious about what I'm spending money on. Since then, I've lowered my cable bill, cell phone bill, and working on insurance rates. Retailmenot.com is a great website for shoppers too. It shows coupons for all sorts of places. If I'm going to Best Buy, I'll check that website to see what coupons are currently available to use.

Many of my friends got onto my case about doing Project Minimum Wage but in the end, I'm glad I did. I truly learned a lot from it and hope to carry it on not just in February but further down through....well..... my entire life. Everybody should at least try something similar to it at least once. Maybe not the scaled down version of minimum wage but budget yourself at 60-70% of what you usually spend a month and see if you can do it from there.

With that said, thanks for reading along this past month and a half. I promise you Dining by the Alphabet returns soon.

And lastly, congrats to two of my friends (as well as former Guest Diner) on their newest addition to their family last week. You guys know who you are.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Project Minimum Wage: T-Minus 1 Day!

Days 28 and 29 boom! Gone just like that!

I started off the days with $62.

I remember stating that Wednesday was going to be a low key night for me with the Shocker game but I was too tempted to go out for the game by friends who want me to fail Project Minimum Wage. Ended up going out and only had a couple beers but I did not eat out. I made sure to eat dinner at home before going out. Probably something I wouldn't have done otherwise.

Thursday was the haircut I was supposed to postpone until next week. Figured since I had some money, I might as well get the haircut over with. Stopped by the grocery store on the way home to pick up some items here and there for dinner.

Final damage? It wasn't too bad. I'm now sitting here with $22 in hand. That's crazy cause 22 just happens to be my lucky number as well.

So here we are on the final day of Project Minimum Wage. I do have a birthday party to go to tonight but I'm thinking I'll be able to manage it all. Unfortunately I'm betting I won't have much money left over.

On the bright side, I did bring my lunch again to work. Its spaghetti cooked inside of bread dough. Pretty interesting concept. It's very cheap to make to. Spaghetti, ground beef, spaghetti sauce and frozen dough all flattened out and then you wrap it around the spaghetti. Plus there was a nice little sale at Dillon’s. If you look online, there are sites like dealdetectingdiva.com that show you what coupons to use at what stores to maximize savings. It's great! They do all the work for you.

One more day left all. I'll post the final day write up this weekend and then next week will be my final thoughts.



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Project Minimum Wage: Days 26 and 27

I've made it through the Month of January! Due to me being out of town for three days, I have to make up for that and those three days are starting this morning. February 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

Can you believe the past two days I've gone without spending a single dollar? I have $62 left to spare and looking pretty to finish out these three days. Yes, I know Bingo was definitely a deciding factor in it but sometimes life needs a little luck.

Once Friday ends, I'll probably write up a little perspective on the past month. What I've learned, what i've learned about myself, new habits, my possible new future as a chef, etc. Will I go back to my old ways of spend, spend, spend, eat out, eat out, eat out? Don't plan on it, but we'll save that for the final blog.

Moving on, tonight is the Wichita State/Missouri State game. Don't currently plan on spending money to watch it but I'm pretty easily swayed by peer pressure if it means watching the game with friends. Really could use this win, the Bears are much better than their record shows. Plus Kyle Weems is scary good.

To end this short blog, here's a quick little dessert recipe that's super easy to make. On top of that, it's super cheap! Crescent Puff Smores:

Ingredients:
  • Crescent roll dough (the easy way is to buy it prepared from the refrigerator or freezer section)
  • A bag marshmallows
  • Melted butter
  • Chocolate chips
Steps
  • Open and unfold the crescent rolls into individual triangles.
  • Start adding ingredients (melted butter then place chocolate chips and marshmallows on top). After your crescents are unfolded, roll your crescent towards the larger side, folding the smaller side. When you get almost to the end, add one large marshmallow and sprinkle on some chocolate chips. Do this to each crescent roll.
  • Roll the crescent roll up
  • Place on baking sheet
  • Heat at 325 degrees for about 5-10 minutes.
It's like a smores inside a crescent roll. It's delicious.

Happy Dining All!