Kansas Travel Blog
August 2008

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith Stokes' adventures while exploring and photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact Keith at sfreader@sff.net.

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Art by Kansas Grassroots Artist, Glenn Stark
Sunday - August 31, 2008:    Drove past Olympic Village Restaurant and Bar in Overland Park and confirmed that they have closed. That is shame, I think they had the best Greek food in metropolitan Kansas City.

Revisited Four Seasons Asian Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. I particularly enjoy the large selection on their weekend buffet. This isn't my favorite Korean food, but it is fun trying so many different unfamiliar items. I hope they are able to stay open - I was the only customer early on a Sunday evening.

Updated the page devoted to Unique Kansas Restaurants.

 

Saturday - August 30, 2008:    Drove to Elsmore, Kansas to check on the waterfall on the spillway at Bourbon State Fishing Lake which was recommended to me by several Kansans, including Greg Mitchell. The falls were completely dry this day, but I can see that it will be worth a revisit next spring.

Then on to Stark, Kansas for the second Kansas Sampler Foundation "Bring Your Own Lawn Chair" event in front of Murphy's Mercantile on the Main Street. Portia Murphy told how she made her dream come true to open an old style general store in a small town and about the challenges of buying merchandise for small stores. Others told about the town's history and a local artist. I counted about 110 people participating in the Lawn Chair Meeting, slightly more than the entire population of the community of Stark.

I took advantage of the opportunity to photograph Murphy's Mercantile and sample their apple pie. Other folks were enjoying inexpensive deli sandwiches which were made to order.

Then I had lunch at Cherokee's Cafe, a restaurant two doors away, that I had been intending to try for several months. The chicken fried steak sandwich was good, and the sandwich & fresh French fries were enormous. Those are 12 inch platters in the photos.

I sat at the counter and was surprised to be joined on both sides by other Olathe, Kansas residents - the Zimmermans, who I met at the Sampler Festival in Concordia and another couple whose last names I never learned.

Cherokee's Cafe was filled with members of the Kansas Explorers Club and we had a lot of fun chatting. Marci Penner and WenDee LaPlant of the Sampler Foundation were busy taking photos and talking to people. When Marci's food finally arrived, many of us hurried over to photograph her with a huge pork tenderloin.

Marci also announced that the Stark post office had a record day, selling 2 1/2 times as much postage as on any previous single day.
 
 

Lawn Chair Meeting in Stark, Kansas.

Portia Murphy and Marci Penner Portia Murphy,
Marci Penner

WenDee LaPlant WenDee LaPlant selling
Explorers merchandise.

Murphy's Mercantile in Stark, Kansas Murphy's Mercantile

Thursday - August 28, 2008:    Added a new page devoted to the Fromme-Birney Round Barn near Mullinville.
Wednesday - August 27, 2008:    Visited the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. The food was fairly average, but I was pleased to find the quality of the show (All Shook Up) was better than I expected. Tickets run from $32 to $55, and do not include dessert or beverages.

 

Tuesday - August 26, 2008:    Added a new page devoted to Bobo's Drive In in Topeka, Kansas. Updated the pages devoted to Watkins Community Historical Museum in Lawrence, Kansas and the Renaissance Cafe in Assaria, Kansas.
Monday - August 25, 2008:    Updated pages devoted to Unique Kansas Restaurants, Tanganyika Wildlife Park, Brit Spaugh Zoo and the Kansas State University Bug Zoo.

 

Sunday - August 24, 2008:    Sunday's first stops were in Mullinville, Kansas where I had lunch at the Country Cafe. The food was a step above my previous meal. The Country Cafe is open 6AM until 9PM, 7 days a week. A real asset in this area where restaurants are far apart and many are closed on Sunday.

I visited the Fromme-Birney Round Barn, south of Mullinville. It was a pleasant surprise. The 16 sided barn was built in 1912 and restored in the 1990s. The building is always open to the public, free, and includes a number of displays and exhibits. They even have post cards and the original roof ridge caps for sale, trusting visitors to pay on the honor system. I admire the vision the local community showed in restoring this lovely old building and trusting visitors to respect it.

Before leaving town, I revisited the unusual Kanza Art of local resident M. T. Liggett. I was ashamed to see that his controversial expressions of Freedom of Speech have not been equally respected. It appears that some signs are missing or vandalized.

Continuing east, I took a few more photos in Greensburg, and drove by the home of Kingman Grassroots Artist Glenn Stark. On my way back to the highway, I was pleased to discover a small additional display of Glenn Stark's art in the yard at 333 East E. Avenue.

I drove through some fairly heavy rain, but lucked out and the weather broke before I reached the Tanganyika Wildlife Park outside Goddard, Kansas.

The modest zoo which opened to the public earlier in the year has added many new exhibits since my previous visit and I am happy to say that I can now recommend visiting the Park. They are distinguishing the park from the much larger Sedgwick County Zoo, by providing opportunities for visitors to have direct contact with the animals.

The final stops of the weekend were In Wichita, Kansas where I had supper at Savute's Italian Ristorante and the Stick and Rudder Club. The restaurant will remain on the Unique Kansas Restaurants page, mostly on the strength of the interesting aviation decor, and the unusually reasonable prices.

On the way out of Wichita, I stopped at the Nu-Way Cafe to pick up a root beer freeze and a gallon of their homemade root beer to take home.

 


 

Fromme-Birney Round Barn Fromme-Birney
Round Barn

Kanza Art of M. T. Liggett Kanza Art

Glenn Stark art in Kingman, Kansas Glenn Stark art
 

red ruffed lemur red ruffed lemur at
Tanganyika Wildlife Park

Saturday - August 23, 2008:    Saturday morning began with the elaborate breakfast buffet which is included with a stay at the Swedish Country Inn: Swedish meatballs, lingonberries, eggs in egg cups, freshly baked rye bread, Swedish tea rings, cheese, cold meats, cereals, pickled herring, waffles and knäckebröd.

Driving south, I photographed a former Valentine Diner on the street leading into McPherson, then drove west to Great Bend with stops to photograph another Valentine Diner in Ellenwood, Kansas, and a small park and old well near where Santa Fe Trail travelers crossed Cow Creek.

The visit to Brit Spaugh Zoo in Great Bend, Kansas was a bit disappointing, It is still a nice little zoo, but the construction of new exhibits and the raptor building is taking much longer than I was led to expect.

Driving south again, I revisited Mom's Bar and Grill in Seward, Kansas. The chicken fried steak sandwich is great and the place seems unchanged from my first visit in 2005. It is still the only restaurant on the Unique Kansas Restaurants list that does not have a paved street leading to it.

A little before 2PM, I arrived at one of the main destinations for the weekend - Greensburg, Kansas. Pulling up to the 5.4.7 Art Center, I was disappointed to find it closed, even though I had emailed to confirm it would be open. Fortunately while I was photographing a nearby group of displays from Kansas State University, nearby resident, Shawn Cannon, stopped and agreed to open the Center and show me around. This was particularly generous, as he was also preparing for a party that evening. His home was being featured on that night's first episode of the series Making It Home on the Learning Channel.

After photographing the Big Well and other Greensburg scenes, I continued to Meade, Kansas where I toured the Meade County Historical Museum, Dalton Gang Hideout, and Heritage House.

Supper was at the Chuck Wagon Restaurant in Meade and I stayed the night at the Moon Mist Motel across the street. Both were acceptable, but I wouldn't make a special point of returning to either one.

 


 
 
 
 

Brit Spaugh Zoo in Great Bend, Kansas Brit Spaugh Zoo in
Great Bend, Kansas
 
 
 
 
 

5.4.7 Art Center in Greensburg, 5.4.7 Art Center
 

Dalton Gang Hideout in Meade, Kansas Dalton Gang Hideout

Friday - August 22, 2008:    I left work at mid-day Friday and headed west through Lawrence to Topeka, where the first stop of the weekend was for lunch at Bobo's Drive In. Bobo's has been operating since 1948, and has been at this location since 1953. The best items sampled were their cheeseburger and hand made onion rings.

After a quick visit to Deep Creek Waterfall (which continues to be popular with the local young people), I went in to Manhattan, Kansas to revisit the Bug Zoo and tour the green houses at the Kansas State University Display Gardens. At least I thought I would tour the conservancy, but despite what it says in the Garden's brochure, it turns out that the only additional building open on week days is a small visitor's center.

Before leaving the campus, I bought ice cream and beef jerky at the Call Hall Dairy Bar on the K-State campus. It was hard to locate, but worth the visit. I highly recommend the Irish Cream flavor of ice cream that I tried.

Passing through Salina, Kansas, I pulled off for a brief visit to Smoky Hill Vineyards & Winery. After three visits to Smoky Hill Winery, it is one of the few places I have visited in Kansas where I have never felt welcome.

Still they produce some good products and I purchased bottles of their Cherry Port and Blackberry Norton wines.

Then on to Lindsborg, Kansas where I stayed the night at the Swedish Country Inn. The staff at the Inn are friendly, and I liked the facility, but my room (which happened to be the closest to the ice machine and lobby) was too noisy. I probably wouldn't return to the Swedish Country Inn unless a quieter room was available.

Supper was back in Assaria, Kansas at the Renaissance Cafe. The Renaissance Cafe was every bit as good on this second visit. Very fine food, reasonably priced, in a unique venue. Exactly what I try to find for the Unique Kansas Restaurants page.

 

Bobo's Drive In Bobo's Drive In
Topeka, Kansas
 

Quinlan Visitor Center Quinlan Visitor Center
at Kansas State
University Gardens
 

KSU Call Hall Dairy Bar Call Hall Dairy Bar
 

Wednesday - August 20, 2008:    Revisited Smokin' Joe's BBQ in Olathe, Kansas. The daily lunch special has just increased by $1 to $8 including tax - the second increase in 2 years. But that is still a fairly good value for a large BBQ sandwich, crinkle cut French fries and soda.

 

Sunday - August 17, 2008:    I drove to Lawrence, Kansas with the intention of trying the newly combined The Orient and Southern Cuisine. But although the sign on the window said they are open on Sunday, the restaurant was closed.

Which isn't a disaster, Lawrence has more good locally owned restaurants than I will ever find the time to visit. After walking by several restaurants and reading the menus of those that post their menu, I decided on Genovese Italian Restaurant, a restaurant I knew nothing about.

The three level restaurant is attractive, though the building is narrow and dark. But the service was very slow, it was 10 minutes before the server came to speak to me and another 10 minutes before she brought my drink.

That drink was a decent sangria. A bargain at $4. 

My appetizer was grilled octopus with white beans, shaved fennel, arulula & lemon ($6). The octopus had good flavor, but I don't think the beans were a good paring. After a few bites, I picked the remaining small pieces of octopus out of the dish.

My main dish was a roasted pork paninis with caramelized onions, goat cheese & salsa verde ($7.5). It was a good sandwich but could have used a different sauce, perhaps honey mustard. It came with the choice of side, and the fried potatoes that I selected were the highlight of the meal. 

Overall, Genovese is worth visiting and will find its way onto the list of other Kansas restaurants at Kansas Travel dot org.

On the way out of Lawrence, I was pleased to discover that the Watkins Community Center & Douglas County Historical Society finally has a sign on the building. I have to believe it will result in more out of town visitors.

The final stop of the day was at Davenport Orchards & Winery near Eudora, Kansas. This good small winery is only open a few hours during the week, but it is worth seeking out. I am found of their non grape wines, particularly the watermelon and Apple.
 

Updated the page devoted to The Corner Pharmacy in Leavenworth, Kansas with some new photographs and to bring prices current. The food at The Corner Pharmacy is still a bargain with daily specials starting from $1.99 including beverage!

Updated the page devoted to Unique Kansas Restaurants.

 


 
 
 
 

Genovese Italian Restaurant in awrence, Kansas Genovese
Italian Restaurant
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Davenport Orchards & Winery in Eudora, Kansas Davenport Orchards
& Winery

 

Saturday - August 16, 2008:    Drove up to Leavenworth, Kansas to visit the First City Museum and try some restaurants. This was my first visit to the First City Museum, which recently expanded into the adjacent storefront.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the museum has several unique exhibits including a large portion of the museum being devoted to the area's prisons. This day was the opening of Mugged! A Rogue's Gallery of Leavenworth Penitentiary Mug Shots, an exhibit from the National Archive. There was also a presentation by Ken LaMaster, a Leavenworth Penitentiary Guard and author of U.S. Penitentiary: Images of America. The afternoon concluded with a trolley ride to The National Fred Harvey Museum - The Harvey family home that is being slowly restored and is not yet open to the public.

The Mugged exhibit will continue to be on display though October.

I took advantage of the trip to Leavenworth to re-visit Nu-Way Drive In, and The Corner Pharmacy. The counter at The Corner Pharmacy continues to offer good food and amazingly low prices. Sadly, the food at the Nu-Way Drive In was even less appealing than on my previous visit, and I have removed it from the Kansas Restaurant page here at Kansas Travel. If you are wanting these famous old loose meat sandwiches, I recommend that you go to the original Nu-Way restaurant in Wichita, Kansas.

But I also visited Baan Thai Restaurant which recently moved into a much larger location on 4th Street. Baan Thai was the best meal I have had in several weeks! A review will be added to this site in a few days.
 

 

Mugged! at First City Museum Mugged!

National Fred Harvey Museum Fred Harvey Museum
 
 
 
 
 

Baan Thai Restaurant - Leavenworth, Kansas Baan Thai Restaurant

Thursday - August 14, 2008:    After hearing great things about Tatsu's in Prairie Village, Kansas, I visited it with a friend to celebrate a special occasion. The French restaurant has been open in this quiet neighborhood since 1980.

We enjoyed Escargots de Bourgogne as an appetizer, upgraded to goat cheese salads, and split Tatsu's Delight (triple layer of puffed pastry filled with vanilla custard topped with fresh chantilly cream, shaved chocolate and fresh fruit) to finish the meal.

For main courses, we had Suprême de Poulet Teriyaki (Sautéed chicken breast topped with Tatsu's teriyaki sauce) and Veau a la Normande (Veal loin sautéed with mushrooms in Calvados cream sauce).

The chicken was my favorite dish by far, while the veal had less flavor than I hoped for. Over all, none of the food was as special as I hoped for. It was good, but for $50/person I want the atmosphere of food to stand out. I'm not sorry I tried Tatsu's, but would be unlikely to go there again.

 

Saturday - August 2, 2008:    Made a second visit to Beethoven's 9th in Paola, Kansas. Beethoven's restaurant is the first new restaurant to excite me in several weeks.

I ordered a sausage sampler appetizer and a mushroom swiss burger with onion straws. This was way too much food. 

The $7 appetizer was four sliced sausages surrounding a large serving of hot sauerkraut. When I asked what the sausages were, between two servers, they could not tell me with certainty what any of them were. The one I liked the least was some type of bratwurst. I really liked two of the sausages, but have no idea what to order if I wish to try them again.

Beethoven's offers three types of hamburgers: sirloin, buffalo and chicken. My mushroom and swiss sirloin burger was a full inch thick and stuck out of the sides of the bun. Although I prefer my meat cooked medium, most Kansas restaurants over cook their meat, so I order medium rare. This burger was a perfect medium rate. When I go back for steak,  I will order medium.

Beethoven's sandwiches come with the choice of one of 20 side dishes. I chose onion strings for $1 extra. The large order of onion strings looked wonderful, but I didn't care much for them. Perhaps I was just too full.

I bought three cookies to go. One of each of the three being offered this day (chocolate chip, peanut butter, & chocolate chip peanut butter). The three large cookies filled a small styrofoam container and must have weighed over a pound. The chocolate chip peanut butter was awesome.

Added a new page devoted to Beethoven #9: The Restaurant.

 

Beethoven's 9th restaurant cookies 3 huge cookies at Beethoven's
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