Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quick Hits 7/24/12

Quick Hits 7/24/12
  • I was in Kansas City a couple weekends ago and was driving around looking for a place to eat. I was given a tip that Freebirds World Burrito is a spot that’s a “must go”. I guess it’s a restaurant similar to the Chipotle concept but better with a stronger focus on organic items. Driving by the place, the line was out the door and then some…… in 100+ degree temps. I laughed and went somewhere else. Well many friends I’ve spoken to since have raved about the place. It was the first time I’ve ever heard of Freebirds. Now guess what, as many as three franchises could be coming to Wichita in 2013.
  • Hana Café is expanding downtown to add express style Korean lunches. Probably a good move because I can’t think of many places downtown that are quick to grab a bite to eat outside of the fast food spots.
  • Wichita’s Happy Hour Law is now in effect. I’ve been around Wichita looking for some of the best Happy Hour specials but it’s starting to wear on my body. Had I been 21, I could probably do this every day. I haven’t seen many big Happy Hour specials advertised so if you know of a great one, I’d love to hear about it.
  • Free Tea Day is this Thursday at McAlister’s Deli. Customers will get a free 32 oz. glass of their ice tea either sweet or unsweetened. I prefer unsweetened ice tea. Sweet Tea is nasty. They might as well spell it Sweat Tea.
  • I have yet to try out Pita Pit. I must see what this place is all about.
  • Lastly it must be said. Dillon’s has great sushi to go. It’s not the top of the line stuff but it’s great for a quick lunch grab. The guys at the Central and Rock location are fantastic, helpful and super nice.
The Dragon Roll and Seaweed Salad. Yum.

Friday, July 20, 2012

BJ's Brewhouse Comes To Wichita!

BJ’s Brewhouse is the newest restaurant to open in Wichita on the great ole east side of town. It’s located in the same lot as Towne East Mall next door to Logan’s Roadhouse which by the way, not a big fan of.
7960 East Kellogg
Wichita, KS 67207
316.687.0250 TEL
Hours
11am-12am Sunday-Thursday
11am-1am Friday & Saturday
http://www.bjsbrewhouse.com/  (First thing I noticed on the website, if you do a search for a Wichita area zip code, it spells our city wiTchita.)
I went there with a group of friends this week to catch an early glimpse of what to expect. Place is gorgeous inside. I was amazed at how fast they were able to get the building up and completed inside.


We got there and place….was….packed! Of course everybody in Wichita, like myself, has nothing to do so they always check out the latest restaurant to hit the scene. We arrived at seven and were seated about 30-40 minutes later. Word of advice to you readers: they do call ahead seating.
Everybody was friendly throughout the evening. Just observing the employees, you could tell many of them were still being trained on the spot. That is to be expected for new restaurants I suppose.
All of the guys in our group tried their handcrafted beers.  You can try a sampler platter of 4 or 8 of their beers on tap. I had four different ones: Lightswitch Lager, Brewhouse Blonde, Harvest Hefeweizen and Piranha Pale Ale. Of the four, Harvest Hefeweizen was my favorite. My other friends tried nearly everything else including their season: Nitwit.  (List of beers: http://www.bjsbrewhouse.com/bj-beers)


BJ’s Brewhouse also makes their own soda and one of the people in our group had their root beer which I was able to take a sip of. Nu Way’s is much better if you’re looking for homemade root beer. It doesn’t even compare.
Their dinner menu is like a training manual companies give to you at the start of employment. It’s pretty thick and has a variety of items to choose from. Note they have Gluten Free options for those of you who are into that. As for the prices, I’d say many of the items run a little higher than what you would see at similar places. Burgers run around $10, many of their medium pizzas are ~$20, the pasta dishes were about $10-15, etc. Here’s their online ordering menu for Wichita: http://www.snapfinger.com/menus/bjsbrewhouse/default.aspx?SiteID=17101
Took me a while to figure out what I wanted to order with such a large variety to choose from on the menu. It was between the Cajun Pasta, a Crispy Jalapeno Burger, a steak, the New Orleans Jambalaya or a Double Deluxe Burger. Seriously, there are a lot of menu items. Eventually I decided on the New Orleans Jambalaya ($15.75 - Our distinctive Jambalaya dish brings together blackened chicken, shrimp and Chicken- Andouille sausage, sautéed with bell peppers, onions and tomatoes in a spicy sauce. Served over rice pilaf and topped with green onions.) It was definitely spicy but didn’t pack in a lot of flavor for other jambalaya I’ve had around Wichita. It was definitely filling but I wasn’t overly pleased with it. I love me some jambalaya but BJ’s Brewhouse’s take on it was underwhelming.
My friends had an assortment of different items you can see below, some I remember the name of, some I don’t.

The Classic Burger

Cajun Pasta
So that’s just a brief synopsis of the BJ’s Brewhouse experience. It’s a place I will likely go to again because its close and they serve beer. Two things I am always up for. Plus I've had some friends tell me they like their food so I might have to try something new. The jury is still out! Give it a try yourself and let me know what you think by sending an e-mail to wichitabyeb@gmail.com – I’m curious to read your thoughts on this place.
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Friday, July 13, 2012

African Flavor Restaurant and Patio Keer Awa Reviewed

There’s a new little restaurant that has opened up in Wichita that I bet 90% or even more have not heard of. A restaurant that serves the type of food that same percentage has probably never tried.
I bring to you: African Flavor Restaurant and Patio. Keer AWA.
They are located on 5218. E 21st N just east of the Taco Tico building in a small three store strip. It’s in a former Hookah bar.http://africanflavorrestaurant.com/
African Flavor Restaurant also has a Facebook page with more pictures and a menu, more on that later.
They have been open for a little over three months and serve primarily Western African food as we were told. A couple friends and I decided to go there for lunch to get a glimpse of the goodness African Flavor Restaurant served.
Walking inside you could tell it was a former bar. There is what appears to be a bar in the middle of the restaurant that has been stripped down: a room in the corner of the building that’s still painted all black with graffiti on the wall and a disco ball in the ceiling. Aside from that, the rest of the inside if painted blue with a strong smell of incense that is constantly burning. The walls are filled with African décor adding some culture to the place.

Stepping up to the counter, you see a little board that displays their small menu. One of my friends noted that the menu choices weren’t very clearly presented. A nice description next to the menu would have been helpful for someone who hasn’t had Western African food before.  When we arrived, the lady taking our order informed us that they were out of the fish (which is a full sized fried fish) and Yassa (your guess is as good as mine on what that is). So we decided to order everything else on the menu including a peanut butter soup we were told about.
Our order consisted of the following:
Dibi – grilled lamb with rice and vegetables
Pepper Soup – grilled goat in a spicy soup broth
Peanut Butter Soup – grilled lamb in a soup broth with peanut butter
Chapatti – an “African taco” as we were told. Tortillas with noodles and grilled lamb
All the items sounded interesting and all of us were very adventurous eaters ready to try anything. We figured we might as well try everything else they have left and split it to see if this is a place we’d consider adding to our lunch rotation.
There were only two workers at African Flavor, a husband and wife combo so if you go at a really busy time it could take a while. We just missed the rush of people when we arrived so we were fortunate in that regard.
When the food arrived, it all looked very tempting; that or the fact that I missed breakfast made me ready to eat anything.
The first item we tried was the Peanut Butter Soup. Totally did not taste like peanut butter, not even a hint of it in the flavor. One friend said it was more of a creamy lightly savory flavor. The lamb pieces were tender but were a hit or miss on whether it was a big chunk of fat or a tender lamb morsel. Plus there’s a big bone in most pieces you it’s not the type of soup you can just spoon in your mouth and swallow immediately.
The Peanut Butter Soup minus the Peanut Butter Flavor
Next up was the Dibi. It was by far the best of the group. One friend said it was tasty – thin grilled lamb steaks that had the right level of crispiness and fattiness. I too enjoyed it; the lamb was cooked just right. Having the bed of rice next to it was just the cherry on top.
You'll definitely want Dibs on the Dibi.
Did you just see what I did there?
The Chapatti came in a bowl of grilled lamb and noodles in a meat sauce. Two tortilla rolls were served with it. We were told to rip the tortilla in small pieces and spoon it into the bowl of lamb and noodles. The lady who served it to us told us it was a Kenyan dish. This was probably the least eaten of the four meals. The lamb and noodle combination just reminded me of a Hamburger Helper meal but with better meat and a little more flavor.
The Chapatti
 To end it all was the Pepper Soup which was grilled goat in a broth filled with spices. It wasn’t too spicy as the lady suggested; though it had a little greasy taste to it. The goat was very good and tender; quite possibly my favorite meat of the bunch.
Pepper Soup
When we paid for our food, we received quite a shock from the cost of our meal. Our ticket total was $54. From doing the math with the prices listed on their Facebook menu, it didn’t add up. We didn’t say a word though to the guy tabbing us out. It was a little costly for a lunch. If you go there, you can expect to pay around $10 for it.
Overall the place was pretty good and very unique. One friend said he’d go try it again in a couple weeks, maybe for dinner; now that he’s better prepared on what to expect for the prices. I couldn’t agree more.
Many of you have east siders may have driven by this place on the way to school or to see a Shocker game. The looks of the exterior may look sketchy but it’s worth a try. I look forward to trying it again in the future. I think the next time I do go though, I’m going to grow my hair out so I can go visit the establishment next door and support another locally owned Wichita business………

Thanks for reading everybody!
 



















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Friday, July 6, 2012

Quick Burger Review: Oasis Lounge

I just wanted to throw a quick review out there for you guys before the weekend hit. Enjoy:
I’ve been hearing for quite some time that the Oasis Lounge has a fantastic burger, possibly one of the best in Wichita, KS. Now I’ve been to the Oasis Lounge plenty of times in college and post-college for their cheap pool, dive bar feel and post bingo outings. I really like the ambience of the establishment but through all those years never had a bite to eat there. I put my priorities on drinking rather than eating. Fast-forward to present day. Eating is more important.
Oasis Lounge
4121 West Maple Street  Wichita, KS 67209
(316) 943-9260
I went to the Oasis Lounge with a friend yesterday for a couple drinks and a bite to eat and we both tried their burger and fries.
The Oasis Lounge had one waitress at the time so the staffing wasn’t ideal when it got busy but she did a really good job of getting from table to table making sure everything was taken care of.  The time from ordering our burgers to getting them did not take long.


Just looking at the burger, it was thick and juicy. My mouth and I proceeded to have the following conversation:
                Mouth: What are you doing just staring?
                Me: Patience, Mouth. I just want to take a look at all its glory.
                Mouth: Feed me. Seriously. Just look at the buns on that thing, I want to take a bite out of that.
                Me: Stop talking dirty.
So I finally gave in to my mouth’s temptation and took a bite. Deeeeeelicious. The burger was full of flavor and wasn’t overly greasy as you find in other burgers. You’ll remember from the Letter T review that I like my burger patties thick and juicy. I’m sure Notorious B.I.G. felt the same way about his patties. (obscure rap reference of the year). So Oasis’ burgers hit the spot. The fries were better than nearly any bar fries I’ve had. I prefer the thinly sliced fries you get at Freddy’s Frozen Custard but not many places have those. These were the thick fresh cut and were really good for them not being my preference of fries. They weren’t too greasy either. My friend felt the same way of the burger and said, “This is a really good burger. First time I’ve been here and I would absolutely go again!”
I give the place two thumbs up. Their bloody mary was great as well. If you’re a bloody mary fan, they make their own mix which I’m wary about sometimes because I like the Zing Zang. Take note, their bloody mary doesn’t come with much. No pickle, no beef jerky. Sad, I know.
Otherwise, I loved the Oasis Lounge burger. I can definitely attest it’s one of the best in the city. It’s up there with T J’s burger. Give it a try for yourself!

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