Thursday, May 24, 2012

What The Food Truck?!?! - Wichita Food Trucks Reviewed


In four weeks’ time, I’ve had the pleasure of checking out one of Wichita’s latest fads. Last year it was froyo and this year it looks like food trucks are making its way to the ICT.

What is a food truck you ask? Is it an edible vehicle? No silly. It’s a mobilized venue that sells food. They are pretty popular throughout the U.S. and some have actually been around Wichita for a long time. There are quite a few taco trucks in the city already. The ones I checked out this past month specialized in sandwiches.

After looking at the menu of the three popular food trucks in Wichita, the one thing I noticed was price. Some people may be turned off by the $5-7 price tag for just a sandwich but some people have to realize these food trucks can’t compete on an economical scale with a Wendy’s, McDonald’s or $1 hot dog at QuikTrip. Plus everything is handmade and fresh. There’s a convenience factor and you’re also supporting local companies.

All three food trucks have Facebook pages you can follow to find out where they are going to be at during the week for lunch and their menu. So with that said, I bring to you “What the Food Truck?!?!”

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The first of the three food trucks I visited was BS Sandwich Press


The day I went out there it was at 21st and Rock near Bradley Fair. A buddy of mine texted me to check it out with him so three of us went on a windy Thursday afternoon. The moment we get there the parking lot was pretty empty outside. It was right around noon. There was no line at the food truck so we walked right up and placed our order. All of BS Sandwich Press’ main items were Panini’s. Not sure if I’ve ever had a Panini before so it was already an adventure in itself.
We went with the Spicy Turkey (pepper jack cheese, sautéed peppers, fresh red onion, tomato, and zesty ranch sauce. I ordered a B.S. Big Pickle and water for two extra dollars. I love a good pickle and am always willing to buy one regardless of the cost. With that said, don’t buy the pickle. It wasn’t that good; rather lukewarm and lacked the flavor of say a Claussen pickle. It is not worth the extra dollar.
Didn’t take long to make our order and we grabbed our food and walked back to our car to eat. The “ambience” wasn’t ideal since it was windy albeit sunny. The owners did give us a sample of their homemade fries and chips which were very delicious. Probably a little unhealthy but really, what fries and chips aren’t? The Panini itself was fantastic. I loved the flavor and the zesty ranch sauce. I wouldn’t classify it as spicy but my taste buds can handle some good heat. Personally I liked it and would try it again.
Another friend of mine enjoyed it Panini. He wouldn’t classify it as great and didn’t think it was worth the price of $6 but as I said earlier, you can’t go to these food trucks and expect $5 foot longs or dollar value meals.
Overall it was a good start to the run of food trucks.  
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The very next week it was The Flying Stove.


I was told they were the first of the sandwich food trucks to hit the scene. According to Facebook, they are definitely the most popular. I was excited to try these guys out as the word of mouth I received was generally positive.
The day we went they were also at 21st and Rock at the same spot my buddies and I were at the previous week. The day just happened to be during a new menu week for the Flying Stove. They had a Caribbean menu just recently introduced. We showed up at Noon and there was already a lengthy line in front of us. Total opposite of what we experienced the week before. There were five of us and a baby and we braved the line in the heat. We had enough time to glance through the menu and decide what we wanted: the Jamaican Braised Beef Sandwich and the Caribbean Fish Taco. We were in line for about 45 minutes until it was time to place our order. Guess what? BOTH items we wanted were out of stock so we were stuck ordering items we had no interest in. Not knowing what a tostone was, I ordered a Jerk Chicken Tostone (roasted habanero spread, mango (something, I can’t read the menu), romaine on fried plantain.
A tostone.... Seriously?
From the moment we ordered to the moment we received our food it was probably another 30-45 minutes. Absolutely not worth the time we spent. A couple friends suggested just leaving the food behind and going to McDonalds right down the street.
When we received our food, I was horrified by what I received. I received a tostone that was probably no larger than the size of the palm of my hand. Another friend received his tostone and was given a free tostone for his wait. And another friend received her food and a fish taco for her wait. The same fish taco I was told they were out of. Of course I’d be the one who didn’t get a freebie! A fifth friend of mine ordered the Mixed Vegetable Coconut Curry.
After eating our food, the general consensus was extreme displeasure with food trucks and the Flying Stove. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, it was almost two hours, which included five minutes of actual eating time. The absolute worst way to spend a lunch. We were so confused on what took so long to get the food out.
The Fish Taco
The tostone tasted good but I was still hungry and felt like I just ate the equivalent of a granola bar. A friend of mine said he’s not sure he’ll ever go to a food truck again given the experience. It was literally that bad. Someone asked me how my experience was on Twitter and I was honest about it. A day later, The Flying Stove tweeted me offering a free lunch and apologizing because they just got a new menu and had problems. It was a kind gesture, one I actually did not take them up on because time is pretty valuable. It was ironic because would go a week later by myself and order the Jamaican Braised Beef Sandwich and Caribbean Fish Taco only because it was right across the street from me.

The best sandwich of the group

It was about a ten minute experience and the Jamaican Braised Beef Sandwich was probably one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had in Wichita. The Caribbean Fish Taco was ok but once again, the beef sandwich blew me away. It was very unfortunate that the first time around was just absolutely horrible because for most places, you get one shot to impress and that’s it. I went to them again out of convenience but I seriously doubt any of my friends who joined me the first time would consider going back given all the time they wasted including two of my friends who had their baby with them. Had they all performed well the second week I went instead of the first, they would have been top choice.
I'm no one special but to mess up the first go around and get a second chance the very next week from any customer is a special opportunity for any restaurant that's rarely given.
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And the final food truck I went to was MMM Sandwiches


The day I went was a very nice Wednesday afternoon when they were parked over at Goodwill at 37th and Oliver. I decided to show up as early as possible given my Flying Stove experience. Of course with me showing up early, there was no line. I was the only customer at the time so I had it all to myself and ensured myself a chance to get in and out in less than two hours.
Via a suggestion from Twitter, I went with the Cuban sandwich (smoked pork loin, black forest ham, Swiss, pickles, and jalapeno-pineapple Dijon on ciabatta). The guy taking my order was very nice; I got good vibes from him and chatted it up while I waited. Not too long after I received my Cuban and headed back to my car.
First bite into my flatbread sandwich and I knew it would be good. The jalapeno-pineapple Dijon spread really made the sandwich. I almost wish there was more of it in the sandwich. The pickles added a nice little taste to it and the smoked pork loin was tasty as ever. Very good sandwich. I was very pleased with the whole experience and it restored my faith in food trucks again.
Random side note: MMM Sandwiches offers the cheapest bottled water prices of the three food trucks.
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Overall I went to three different food trucks, four different times in a matter of four weeks. I was happy with three of the experiences; the one I didn’t like was almost a killer for me but may have been a killer for others.
As for the food, I’d recommend each of these food trucks to anybody. Be aware of the prices you’ll pay if you don’t like to splurge for lunch. The menus are always available on their respective Facebook sites so you know what you can order and what you’ll pay.
DO NOT waste your time waiting a long time in line. For as good as the food is, it’s not worth the wait for the food when you’re standing out there. If the weather is 85 degrees or hotter, I’d just leave.
What was my favorite of the group? It’s hard telling. If I had my second Flying Stove experience as my only once, they would have easily been my favorite. But the first experience really soured me on them. I’d go there again only if it was convenient and close by. MMM Sandwiches and BS Sandwich Press were also very good and from what I saw could use the support. Their sandwiches were fifty times better than the tostone I had at Flying Stove.
Give it a try for yourself and see what you think. I’d love to hear what everybody’s favorite food truck is and see if it compares to what my friends thought.
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Opening Weekend Thoughts: Ernie Bigg's Dueling Piano Bar

Ernie Biggs Wichita
550 N Rock Road
Wichita, KS 67206
(316) 260-1432
Ernie Bigg's had a soft opening on Thursday night. It's located on Rock Road in the former Gaslamp Grille, former Shadow, former The Grape building.
A handful of us decided to go on Saturday night after dinner and once again place was really busy. To those who remember the "Shadow" or "The Grape", it has a "Shadow" type feel inside. I can't speak for what Gaslamp looked like because I never set foot inside the area. Well me along with hundreds of other people, probably why it's now Ernie Biggs.
The bar is broken up into two areas, the piano area which was the main portion of The Shadow (the north part of the building) and then there's a bar area/patio at the south end of Ernie Biggs.
The south end is opened up and allows smoking which really wasn't well ventilated even with it being a patio and all. We all smelled like smoke from hanging out in the south portion every now and then due to the fact the piano bar area was really busy. I hate it when you leave and your clothes reek. It'd be nice if the place didn't allow smoking whatsoever.
As for the music, it was great. I've been to a number of piano bars on road trips and such and they played all the basics like Neil Diamond to Bon Jovi to Billy Joel to Journey to even modern day tunes like Train "Hey Soul Sister" or .Fun “We Are Young”. This was the first time though I've ever seen a drummer playing while the Dueling Piano's. By definition, I'm not sure it was really "dueling piano's" as a friend even pointed out with the drummer and even at one point a guitar being brought out.
Like all piano bars, they had their jars for tips and took song requests at all time. They were great at getting the crowd involved with sing-a-longs, had people on stage, etc.
The service was great though, friendly wait staff and door men. The musicians did a great job of keeping the crowd engaged. Drink prices were similar to what you would see downtown. I know firsthand Vegas Bombs are $7.50 there.
Regardless it was good entertainment and no cover was charged at the door. I'm a big fan of dueling piano bars and find it very fun to sing along with them since being a musician was a dream of mine growing up that never came to fruition.
I'd definitely go again.
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The Best Bar Food I've Ever Had?

What is the best bar food I've ever had?

There's no debate on this. Without a doubt, it came from The Cedar that used to be on 13th street between Oliver and Hillside, my old college stomping ground.

The main course? The chicken enchilada. It's quite possible that I had at least one a week from the moment I started at Wichita State to years after I graduated. If I had six dollars to my name and could only afford a pitcher of beer that day or the chicken enchilada, I would have went with the latter.

Well I came across the recipe a while ago and still haven't perfected it yet to make it taste exactly like the way they made it but then again I have zero cullinary skills and don't have beers on tap at my house to complete the meal.

Regardless if you're interested in The Cedar's Chicken Enchilada recipe. Give it a try yourself!

Ingredients: Sour Cream
Cream of Chicken Soup
Monterrey Chicken

Directions: Mix cream of chicken soup and chicken, then roll in tortilla along with sour cream and Monterrey cheese.

The times I've cooked, I have set the temp to about 375 and cooked for roughly 25-30 minutes.

Use fully cooked fajita chicken.
Cook in the stove.

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If you want the beef enchilada, just use tomato paste and some cayenne pepper to make the sauce. Or you can buy enchilada sauce that's already made.

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If you refrigerate them, they will cook in the microwave for about 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

On another note, I miss the Cedar :(

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Golf Wichita Coupon!

Hey Golfers,
I received this coupon and figured I'd share it with you all. It's for half price green fee and cart for only $21.50. Good Monday through Thursday from 1-4 pm. Expires 8/31/12