Kansas Travel Blog

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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Monday - November 30, 2009: I am trying to visit every Chinese restaurant in Olathe, Kansas, and had lunch at Golden Palace Restaurant at Mur-Len Road and 151st Street. I found the food very bland - even the twice cooked pork, which was labeled as spicy on the menu. As with most Olathe Chinese restaurants, lunch is a real bargain. There are 24 complete meal specials for $4.85 - $5.95.

The rest room floor was not very clean.

This evening I finished scouting the Christmas light displays in south Johnson County, finding several new displays, such as the wonderful one at 13916 110th Terrace, just off College Boulevard in Lenexa, Kansas.

Monday evening, KCTV 5 had a short video segment highlighting the Johnson County (Kansas City) Christmas light tour. .

 

Golden Palace Restaurant - Olathe, Kansas Golden Palace Restaurant
Saturday - November 28, 2009: This evening I drove to Lawrence to verify which displays from the 2008 Lawrence Kansas Christmas Display Tour were still up and worth visiting in 2009. The first one visited at 2311 Manchester Road had only about half as many lights at last year, but I spoke to Mr. Boyd (who was on the roof working on the display) and learned that he was still setting up for this Christmas season.

Most other homes visited were similar to their 2008 holiday displays. I am still very impressed by the display at 1320 Ranchero Drive with its music, animated lights & figures and cutout cartoon figures. It really deserves to have a page devoted to it.

The Henderson Family Christmas Display on 25th display is still very beautiful, but is much smaller than previous years. Betty Henderson explained that climbing to the roof was more difficult this year and they decided to cut back in 2009.

 

Vincent Garcia Christmas display - Lawrence, Kansas Garcia family Christmas display 

Ranchero Drive Christmas Display - Lawrence, Kansas Ranchero Drive Christmas Display

Friday - November 27, 2009: I am trying to visit all of the Chinese restaurants in Olathe, Kansas and today's lunch was at Iron Horse Restaurant on Old US Highway 56. This small restaurant does not offer a lunch buffet, but does offer a number of inexpensive lunch specials including rice, egg roll, crab Rangoon and soup for $5.50 to $6.50.

I had #6, chicken with green beans, which was labeled "spicy." The shrimp was slightly sweet and fried with the shell on. The shrimp had very good flavor, unlike the fried rice, which (other than a tiny amount of egg) was nearly indistinguishable from steamed rice.

 

Iron Horse Restaurant - Olathe, Kansas Iron Horse Restaurant
Thursday - November 26, 2009: In the early evening, I slipped away from the family gathering for a few hours to confirm which holiday displays on The Johnson County Christmas Display Tour were still active this year.

While on the way to the Hager Family Sound and Light Display (which looks and sounds good again this year), I discovered a neat display only a block away at 12600 Meadow in Leawood. While photographing the display which fills the front yard and part of the vacant lot on the culdesac next to the house, the owners came out and I learned that they moving lights were next this year, replacing some blow ups.

Next, I drove north to 9708 & 9717 Lee Boulevard where the Wright family has a new animated display synchronized to a local radio broadcast on FM 100.5. Lee Boulevard is a high traffic street and the city has posted "No parking" on the street between the two displays, so you park on a nearby side street and walk up. 

Since you are unlikely to be carrying a radio, a small speaker plays the music program in the yard at 9717. With the fairly modest sized displays on opposite sides of the street where you can only watch one at a time, and with the parking restrictions, the Wright's must really want to do an animated display to do one at this location.

I continued visiting Christmas light displays from last year and took several photos of the changes to the Mike Babick's famous Christmas display on Falmouth Street in Prairie Village.

I was disappointed to find there was no display up yet at 7632 Rainbow Drive and no displays in any of the yards along Candy Cane Lane.

Along Santa Fe in Overland Park, I found a display that had few lights in the front yard, but a back yard with Christmas lights, folk art and a fountain. I haven't decided if the display at 8331 Santa Fe will be added to the Christmas Display Tour.

The last two displays scouted for the first time tonight were in Lenexa. One of them at 8007 Haskins (near Pflumm and 79th Street) had a lot of interesting fixed or moving figures and will be added to the Christmas Display Tour within a few days.

 


 

Leawood Christmas Light display 12600 Meadow
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Overland Park Christmas display 8331 Santa Fe

Lenexa Christmas light display 8007 Haskins

Wednesday - November 25, 2009: Lunch was at the newest Chinese restaurant in Olathe - Iron Horse Restaurant on Old US Highway 56. The small restaurant doe not have a buffet, but has a small separate lunch menu with several specials in the $5.50 - 6.50 range I had shrimp with green beans, a spicy dish with the shrimp fried up with the shell still on. The tasty dish came with brown rice, choice of soup and one crab Rangoon. Iron Horse Restaurant - Olathe, Kansas Iron Horse Restaurant
Tuesday - November 24, 2009: For supper, I revisited Leona Yarbrough Restaurant in Shawnee. I had chicken fried steak, onion rings and French fries. The hand cut onion rings were pretty good and the excellent gravy made the chicken fried steak and fries. This meal was much better than the first time Leona Yarbrough was visited in February.

 

Leona Yarbrough Restaurant - Shawnee, Kansas Leona Yarbrough Restaurant
Monday - November 23, 2009: I intended to try Hot Basil, a fairly new Thai restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas, but it turned out to be closed on Mondays. So I had Thai food at Wai-Wai Express a couple of miles away. The Thai spicy stir fried chicken was on special and I was pleased that they served in Thai hot, as requested.

 

Sunday - November 22, 2009: Several friends joined me to try Sunday brunch at Bristol Seafood Grill in Leawood, Kansas. I did have to apologize to them, for there being less seafood on the buffet than I had promised, but it was still very good.

The serving and food preparation was scattered across 5 areas in two of the dining rooms and the bar. Popular choices included the made to order omelets, eggs Florentine, peal & eat shrimp, and the selection of desserts.

The service, as always, was very good.

 

Saturday - November 21, 2009: L and attended the Annual Bazaar and Food Festival at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Lenexa, Kansas. It is the third ethnic festival that I have attended this year in Johnson County, Kansas and I had the most fun at this festival. Part of the treat was the excellent tour of the church's sanctuary, which was conducted by one of the cooks who was filling in for the priest.

My favorite dish sampled was the lamb - the very generous serving was heavily flavored with garlic. L had serbian sausage and we both had side dishes: krompir salata (serbian potato salad with oil/vinegar dressing) and knedle od krompira (potato dumplings with sauerkraut and cottage cheese). Their flavorings were delicate, but I enjoyed both.

Two friends joined me for supper at Blanc Burgers & Bottles in Leawood, Kansas. I had a poor experience (mainly because of the service) when I tried Blanc in March, but after hearing others say good things about the place, I wanted to try them again.

Service was much better this time, but I was still disappointed with the fries which were soggy and didn't have a lot of flavor. Everyone enjoyed their burgers, though no one raved about theirs. At $8-12 for a burger, I want something special. 

One dish did really impress me - the spinach and watercress salad with chunky bacon, red onion, golden raisins and warm bacon vinaigrette. It was attractive and very flavorful. One of the best salads I have had anywhere.

 

Food Festival at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church Food Festival at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church
 
 
 

Blanc Burgers - Bottles - Leawood, Kansas Blanc Burgers & Bottles

Thursday - November 19, 2009: L joined me for lunch at the other location of The Other Place in Johnson County. This one is in old downtown Overland Park and was recommended to me by one of my readers, Nick Winkey, who said the food is very good and the bar a lot of fun, particularly when the University of Iowa has a game on TV. 

I made a point of trying things I haven't had recently at the Olathe location. The hand cut onion rings were good and L liked her pork tenderloin sandwich. The hot chicken wings were nothing special.

Updated the page devoted to Hubble Rubble in Howard, Kansas - adding photos taken in September. Added a new review dedicated to the Benson Museum in Howard.

 

The Other Place - Overland Park, Kansas The Other Place - Overland Park, Kansas
Wednesday - November 18, 2009: Lunch today was at The Other Place in Olathe, Kansas. It was my first time there since last winter. The country fried tenderloin lunch special is still great and a bargain at $7.25 with real mashed potatoes and a vegetable. Only available for dine in. 

I had quiche for supper at the Pie Lady Coffeehouse in old town Lenexa, Kansas. The young woman at the counter took my money for spinach/mushroom/ricotta quiche, but came back a couple of minutes later with the word that they were out of that quiche. But I was quite happy with the ham/cheddar/broccoli quiche that I had instead. 

Added new reviews of Wai-Wai Thai Place Express in Overland Park, and The Other Place in Olathe.

 

The Other Place - Olathe, Kansas The Other Place

Pie Lady Coffeehouse - Lenexa, Kansas Pie Lady Coffeehouse

Tuesday - November 17, 2009: Today's lunch was at a new Overland Park restaurant - Chili N Spice Indian Bistro. The small restaurant has only 9 tables, and I am surprised that they give up space that could have 4 more tables with a lunch buffet. I guess you have to have a lunch buffet to compete as an Indian Restaurant in Johnson County.

The dishes sampled had good flavor, though none were very spicy. The buffet is quite reasonable at $7.99 on weekdays. But most meals are reasonable here, there is only one entree on the large menu that is over $9.99

Added a new review of RJ's Bob-Be-Que Shack in Mission, Kansas.

 

Monday - November 16, 2009: I had lunch at Ping's Chinese Restaurant in Olathe, Kansas. For good, cheap, fast Chinese food, Ping's can't be beat. I had a generous serving of Kung Pao chicken with fried rice, hot and sour soup, egg roll and one crab rangoon for $4.99! Ping's has thirty eight different lunch specials at $5.50 or less.

Added new reviews of Traditions Fire Company and Museum in Olathe and the Marquette Museum and Range School Museum in Marquette, Kansas. Updated the review of the Gordon Parks Collection in Fort Scott, Kansas, which has moved into a new 4,000 square foot facility at Fort Scott Community College.

 

Ping's Chinese Restaurant - Olathe, Kansas Ping's Chinese Restaurant
Sunday - November 15, 2009: I was in Kansas City, Kansas for lunch today and was quite disappointed to discover that Rice and Beans Cafe (formerly Cafe Venezuela) has closed. That Latin American restaurant was a real treat.

L and I had lunch at the nearby Jay Wale's Bakery-Bistro. It has taken me a long time to get there, Jay Wale's is closed evenings and Saturdays. It turns out that only breakfasts are served on Sundays. We both selected daily specials. I had the egg's benedict, while L had zucchini and ricotta cheese strudel. We both though the best part of the meal was chicken bratwurst served with my eggs.

Our server was friendly but clue less, unable to answer simple questions like "what is the house salad dressing" or "what time does the bakery close on week days?"

We selected a number of cookies and candies to take with us and have enjoyed all of them including Mexican wedding cookies, shortbread, black and white cookie (chocolate cookie dipped in chocolate and white chocolate) and an almond cluster.

Following lunch we saw H.M.S. Pinafore performed at the Lyric Opera in Kansas City, Missouri.

Thanks to reader James Barbour, the snake pictured at Bourbon Lake Falls is now correctly labeled as a ringneck snake.

 


 

Jay Wale's Bakery-Bistro - Kansas City, Kansas Jay Wale's Bakery-Bistro

Saturday - November 14, 2009: I started the day with a scouting trip to check on the new Fritz's Railroad Restaurant that was under construction in Shawnee, Kansas. The page devoted the the original Fritz's Restaurant in Kansas City, Kansas is one of the most popular pages on this web site.

The new restaurant turned out to be open, but packed with people, and I decided to wait and return to check it out late. I believe it had only been open a few days. The drive through window was not yet open.

So I decided to do to nearby Mission and have lunch at RJ's Bob-Be-Que Shack, where I had not been for a year. I had a Shack platter with wings, burnt ends and 3 pork ribs and the choice of sides for $13.95.

The sides (lightly seasoned fries and cheesy corn bake) were both great. I really ate more fries than I should. My favorite meat was the chicken wings, which had a lot of flavor from the smoking and needed no sauce. The ribs were cooked to much, with about a third of the meat tougher than I wanted to eat.

In the afternoon, I drove south to the Great Mall of the Great Planes to visit the small Traditions Fire Company and Museum which opened in the spring of this year. It had been closed when I tried to tour it earlier in the year. The one room museum is built around a 1955 American Lafrance Ladder Truck and contains little but the fire truck. It took only a few minutes to photograph and see everything in the free museum.

For supper, L joined me at Cafe Provence in Prairie Village. The small French restaurant has a limited but very attractive menu and good service.

We shared a foie gras appetizer and and each had endive salad with apple, walnut and blue cheese dressing. L had the sea bass special, while I had the escalopes de veau aux capres (pan seared veal scaloppini, lemon butter sauce, capers, potato gratin, and haricot vert). The sauce on my veal was so good that I wanted to lick my plate.

 


 
 
 
 
 

RJ's Bob-Be-Que Shack - Mission, Kansas RJ's Bob-Be-Que Shack
 
 
 
 

Traditions Fire Company and Museum - Olathe, Kansas Traditions Fire Company and Museum
 

Cafe Provence - Prairie Village, Kansas Cafe Provence

Friday - November 13, 2009: For supper, L and I had a second meal at Cozy's Cafe in Overland Park, Kansas. We both had the grilled pork chops which appear to be the regular special on Fridays.

I enjoyed the pork chops, but was a bit disappointed with the baklava, which was fine, but not the special treat I was hoping for. Added a new review of Cozy's Cafe.

 

Cozy's Cafe - Overland Park, Kansas Cozy's Cafe
Thursday - November 12, 2009: Had lunch at Masalas Authentic Indian Diner in Overland Park, Kansas, which I hadn't been to since February. The regular menu is unchanged, but the price of the lunch buffet has been reduced to $8. None of the dishes on the buffet which I tried today really impressed me.

Added a new review of The Oil Pump a store in Marquette, Kansas which displays and offers for sale a wonderful collection of old gasoline station memorabilia.

Supper was at the Talk of the Town Grill & Bar in Overland Park. It turned out to be the first night that they introduced a new menu. I enjoyed a Caribbean jerk chicken wing appetizer and honey glazed grilled salmon. Added a new review of Talk of the Town.

 

The Oil Pump - Marquette, Kansas The Oil Pump

Talk of the Town Grill - Overland Park, Kansas Talk of the Town

Wednesday - November 11, 2009: Revisited Mom's Kitchen in Olathe, Kansas for the first time in a year. The prices of many items have gone up a dollar, but are still reasonable. The other change is that Mom's now serves Coke products, even though the menu and glasses say "Pepsi" on them. Updated the review of Mom's Kitchen, adding a map and the new menu.

For supper, I visited GrandStand Burgers in Overland Park, Kansas a second time. The pork tenderloin is vary good. When I requested that my cheeseburger be cooked medium, the man at the counter said the best they could do was cook it to 168 degrees. It made a huge difference - it was still more cooked than I would choose, but this burger was not overcooked and I would get it again.

The French fries were inferior.

Added a new review of GrandStand Burgers.

 

Mom's Kitchen - Olathe, Kansas Mom's Kitchen
Tuesday - November 10, 2009: Added a new review of the Mid-Kansas Model Railroad Exhibit in McPherson, Kansas. Updated the review of Oklahoma Joe's BBQ in Olathe Kansas, with a current menu and new map.

 

Monday - November 9, 2009: Continuing to revisit restaurants that I haven't been to for 6 months to a year,  and I had lunch at Old 56 Family Restaurant in Olathe, Kansas. There s a new menu with slightly higher prices, but everything else remains much the same.

I enjoyed the chili and was mostly happy with the open faced steak sandwich. The generous piece of steak wasn't over cooked, but it was well done, rather than the medium that I ordered. L was happy with her chicken fried steak.

Service was good, except the L's salad was not brought out until after her entree.

For supper, I dined at Chosun Korean Barbeque in Overland Park, Kansas. I ate there once, shortly after it first opened, but that was several years ago.

Rather than Korean BBQ, I tried my favorite Korean dish - nakji bokeum (sliced octopus and fresh vegetables in a spicy sauce). It came with kimchi, pickled radish, fish cake, seaweed salad, tofu and an egg based soup, which the server described as a soufflé in bowl of soup.

The soup was served very hot, in a bowl that retained its heat. I wish that it had been served at the beginning of the meal, rather than with everything else. I was well though the meal before it was cool enough to eat.

The side dishes were all good particularly the fish cake and the tofu. THe tofu has a fish sauce that gave it a flavor I've never had before. It was the first time I ever asked for more tofu.

The serving of nakji bokeum was very generous, but didn't have as much flavor as I have come to expect. It wasn't bad, but I have had better at other Overland Park restaurants.

Added new reviews of Aladdin's Cafe in Lawrence, Kansas and the McPherson Museum in McPherson, Kansas which I think is one of the most interesting local historical society museums in Kansas.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 

Chosun Korean Barbeque - Overland Park, Kansas Chosun Korean Barbeque

nakji bokeum nakji bokeum
 
 
 

McPherson Museum - McPherson, Kansas McPherson Museum

Saturday - November 7, 2009: Today's lunch was at Grandstand Burgers at the corner of Antioch Road and Merriam Drive in Overland Park, Kansas. (Many people confuse the location with Merriam or Shawnee) It a tiny place with only 3 stools at the small counter, plus picnic tables out in front. But that doesn't keep people away. The line to order went out the door most of the time I was there. 

The kitchen is equally small, but very busy. Four people were working in a space smaller than the kitchen in my apartment. The small size does limit what they can do - other than the handmade hamburgers, it appears that everything else is cooked from frozen.

My 1/3 pound $4 cheeseburger was good, but somewhat over cooked. Grilled onions were a bargain at 30 cents and added a lot to the burger. The $2.25 onion rings were good, but the hot wings were flat out disappointment - I didn't care as much for them as for reheated frozen wings by Tyson. And they seemed pricey at 5 small wing thirds for $6.40

For supper, L and I went to Rosedale Barbeque in Kansas City, Kansas. I took advantage of this visit to try some of the dishes that I hadn't had before. I didn't care much for the Cole's slaw, but was pleased with the half chicken. The skin was very crispy and the sauce seemed sweeter than Rosedale's usual sauce. L like the burnt ends.

Following dinner, we went to the Folly Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri where I enjoyed the St. Lawrence String Quartet's performance of works by Hayden, Mendelssohn and Beethoven

 

Grandstand Burgers - Merriam, Kansas Grandstand Burgers
Friday - November 6, 2009: L and I had lunch at what may be the newest restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas - Cozy's Cafe. Cozy's Cafe was opened 3 months ago by Kozeta Kreka, who previously worked at Town Topic in Mission. 

The Cafe serves breakfast all day, along with a wide variety of Mediterranean influenced sandwiches and a few dinner entrees - mostly pastas.

I had a juicy, hand formed half pound cheeseburger with grilled onions ($5.61) and slightly better than average onion rings ($2.39). L ordered the muffuleta (grilled foccacia bread with mortadela salami, provolone cheese, roasted pepper, herbs and hand squeezed lemon juice ($7.19). She was surprised when it came with a Greek style salad which appears no where on the menu. Both were quite good.

I have to comment on the menu, which is sometimes quite detailed, but other times fails to include significant information. The menu also has at least as many typos as my web pages have.

Added short reviews of Cozy's Cafe and Torreon Mexican Restaurant to the Guide to Overland Park Restaurants.

I went to Pegah's Family Restaurant n Shawnee, Kansas for supper. Not every place I try is a hit. It isn't fair to judge a restaurant after just one visit, but I will be slow to return to Pegah's Family Restaurant for a second visit. The restaurant is clean and looks like a nicer small town restaurant. The menu includes items like meat loaf, chicken fried steak and smothered chicken breast.

I had the liver and onions, which I think was over cooked and which I didn't enjoy nearly as much as when I prepare the dish myself. For $8.95, it came with the choice of two sides. The Caesar salad was OK and the onion peels had a lot of batter for the amount of onion. The service was good.

 

Cozy's Cafe - Overland Park, Kansas Cozy's Cafe
 

Cozy's Cafe dining room
 
 
 
 
 
 

Pegah's Family Restaurant - Shawnee, Kansas Pegah's Family Restaurant

Thursday - November 5, 2009: Visited Fred P. Ott's bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas for the first time in a year. I've been enjoying Ott's burgers for many years, but decided to try another facet of the menu today - the roast beef wrap with shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, tomato, scallions and horseradish mayo. The wrap had a lot of meat and a trip to the fixings bar to add bead and butter pickles, red onion and spicy mustard turned it into a great meal.

Ott's famous "biggie" burger has been down sized since my last visit. It is now 8 ounces, instead of 10, but it has also dropped in price about a dollar.

Added a new review and photos of the Rosedale World War I Memorial Arch in Kansas City, Kansas.

For supper, L and I went to Fritz's Chili in Overland Park, Kansas - the first time I have been there in almost two years. But nothing has changed, including the menu and prices. It is like stepping into a time capsule.

 

Fred P. Ott's bar and Grill - Olathe, Kansas Fred P. Ott's bar & Grill

Rosedale Arch - Kansas City, Missouri Rosedale Arch

Wednesday - November 4, 2009: Revisited and updated the review of Go Chicken Go in Olathe, Kansas. Go Chicken Go has added weekday specialsfrom 10AM-4PM. For example: Mondays the special is a half order of gizzards of livers, side dish and a large drink for $5.99. Tuesdays $5.99 will get you 5 wings, a side dish and a large drink. 

L and I attempted to have supper at Adam's Rib in Overland Park, but found the following sign on the door, "Adam's Rib will be closed for a short while for construction and travel for new recipes." There was no sign of construction and 90% of the time restaurants never reopen when they post this kind of sign. The worst indication is that the telephone has been disconnected.

So we crossed the street and had supper at Torreon Mexican Restaurant. Torreon is one of the oldest Mexican restaurants in the region - it opened in 1960s and is now run by the third generation of the Ibarra family. The little restaurant is attractive and crowded. The people at the next table are inches away. The menu is much shorter than most area Mexican restaurants, for example fajitas are not offered.

My taco salad was attractive, but the flavor wasn't what I expected. The service was very fast. We were in and out in less than 40 minutes.

 

Go Chicken Go - Olathe, Kansas Go Chicken Go
 
 
 

Torreon Mexican Restaurant - Overland Park, Kansas Torreon Mexican Restaurant

Tuesday - November 3, 2009: L and had lunch at Café Tempo, located in the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art on the campus of Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas.

Although the food wasn't quite as impressive as my previous visit, I was pleased with my meal and added a new review on Café Tempo to the Overland Park Restaurant Guide.

 

Café Tempo - Overland Park, Kansas Café Tempo
Sunday - November 1, 2009: L and I travel to Lawrence, Kansas so I could take additional photos of grassroots art from the alley behind the Nick Schmiedler home on Missouri Street.

A third friend joined us for a second visit to Aladdin Cafe in downtown Lawrence. The Sunday buffet allowed me to try a wide variety of items. My favorites were the Sultan's Kifta Platter (lean ground beef mixed with cilantro, onion ad potatoes in tahini sauce) and Shawarmah Taouk (grilled chicken mixed with curry and herbs, topped with a potato-garlic sauce. I would glad order either one again.

Following lunch, we went to the University of Kansas campus to watch the women's basketball team from Pittsburg State scrimmage the Lady Jayhawks.

 


 

Aladdin Cafe - Lawrence, Kansas Aladdin Cafe

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