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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Tuesday - December 29, 2009: several of us had dinner at Jack Stack Barbecue in Overland Park. The meats were good as always, but I can't recommend the coleslaw unless you really love celery - it was like eating nothing but chopped celery. The wood fired chicken & sausage gumbo was pretty bland until doctored with back pepper  and hot sauce.

 

Monday - December 28, 2009: We tried two Overland Park, Kansas restaurants today. The first was the Dragon Inn in old Overland Park.

Established in 1975, the Dragon Inn is very old school in decor and food. I enjoyed the dark red and gold dinning room, but was less excited with the food which I found bland. I had spicy chicken with peanuts and hot peppers. It was only $6.50 with egg drop soup, pork fried rice and the choice of an egg roll or crab Rangoon. L was equally unimpressed with the beef with green peppers, which was $6.75 with the same sides.

In the evening, L and I drove to south Overland Park to try Wil Jenny's restaurant, but when we pulled up to the front of the restaurant, we were met by a man who said they were closed because a water pipe had frozen. He apologized, thanked us for coming, and gave us free appetizer coupons for Wil Jenny's and for their sister restaurant, Nick and Jakes Bar and Grill, which is located just across the parking lot.

So we tried Nick & Jakes. Although it was fairly busy, we were able to be seated right away. Our server was very good - attentive and willing to provide good advice. We started with our free appetizer, an enormous serving of so-so spinach & artichoke dip made with 4 cheeses and accompanied by chips & salsa.

My full rack of baby back ribs ($20 with a large order of French fries) was good and large enough that I took about half of the ribs home. But I wish I had ordered the petite medallions which L ordered. They were served with  caramelized onions, tomatoes, asparagus, whipped potatoes and smoked gouda sauce for $15. One of the nicest meals I have sampled all month.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Nick and Jakes Bar and Grill - Overland Park, Kansas Nick and Jakes Bar & Grill

Sunday - December 27, 2009: We traveled to Ives Chapel United Methodist Church on the outskirts of Baldwin City, Kansas where where a friend was preaching her very first sermon. She did a fabulous job and I enjoyed the service at the tiny rural church.

Eight of us followed the service with lunch at the Mad Greek Restaurant in Lawrence. Most of us had the Sunday brunch buffet and were quite pleased with it. The buffet is fairly small and included only two meats - gyro meat slices and and very good spicy chicken.

 

Ives Chapel United Methodist Church - Baldwin City, Kansas Ives Chapel United Methodist Church
Saturday - December 26, 2009: I joined about 15 friends for dim sum at Bo Ling's on the County Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. I prefer the first location of the local Chinese restaurant chain which is in Overland Park, Kansas, but this location was more central for people coming from around the metropolitan area.

One problem with reviewing dim sum, is that I'm not positive what the names of my favorite dishes were.

 

Thursday - December 24, 2009: Lunch was at Rusty's Sports Bar & Grill in Fort Scott, Kansas. The two floor sports bar is in a nice 1888 building. Rusty's was about the only local restaurant open in Fort Scott after 2PM on Christmas Eve.

I tried a hand pounded & breaded pork tenderloin and grilled veggies. The tenderloin was pretty tough, but the veggies were great.

It was a bit of a shock when someone lit a cigarette at the next table. I've grown accustomed to not having to deal with cigarette smoke when I am having a meal. 

 

Rusty's Sports Bar and Grill - Fort Scott, Kansas Rusty's Sports Bar & Grill
Wednesday - December 23, 2009: This evening began with supper at the newest restaurant in Olathe, Kansas - Wei's Super Buffet. The Chinese restaurant is very reasonable, the evening buffet is only $8.99. 

The selection and food is comparable to several of the other nearby Chinese Restaurants. There is a  Mongolian BBQ section without a very large selection of meats and sauces - typical of the Mongolian BBQs that are included as part of larger buffets. When I took my selection to the chef to be cooked, he started complaining about how I had arranged it. He kept lecturing me the entire time he was preparing the food. I wasn't impressed with how he prepared the food or treated me.

Following supper, I toured several Christmas Light displays in metro Kansas City, which were recommended by visitors to this web site. The most impressive one was recommended by Sally Rulifson of Cerner Corporation. Dallas Hainline (who built the Vince & Associates display at 95th & Metcalf) has decorated 12 homes. This evening,  lightening had interfered with some of the animated lights, but the display was still very impressive and worth a special trip.

Just in time for Christmas, here is a new page devoted to the Hainline Family Christmas Light Display in Overland Park, Kansas.

 

Wei's Super Buffet - Olathe, Kansas Wei's Super Buffet
 
 
 

Hainline Family Christmas Light Display - Overland Park, Kansas Hainline Family Christmas Light Display

Sunday - December 20, 2009: Two friends joined me to try the new Backfire Barbeque in Kansas City, Kansas. The first of its kind theme restaurant is based on the Orange County Choppers TV show on the Discovery Channel. The restaurant is heavily decorated with new Orange County Choppers, older Harley-Davidson  motorcycles,  antique vehicles and neon signs.

The noisy restaurant and bar is likely to appeal to fans of the Hard Rock Cafe or Planet Hollywood, but none of the food really stood out. My favorite items samples were the coleslaw and the house made sweet pickles with pickled red onions. My Singing the Blues Burger was covered with lots of blue cheese and tasty, despite being well done (I ordered medium).

There are only 4 BBQ items on the menu and we tried brisket, ribs and pulled pork. The brisket was my favorite of the bunch. I didn't care much for either of the house BBQ sauces, but preferred the standard, to the "fire." The baked beans had a good sweet flavor, but were a but mushy.

Other dishes sampled included green fried tomatoes (good), French fries (good) and chicken wings which had good flavor, but a soft skin texture that didn't satisfy.

Service was aggressively good. Our server apologized profusely the one time she failed to notice that our beverages were empty.

 

Backfire Barbeque - Kansas City, Kansas Backfire Barbeque
Saturday - December 19, 2009: Several of us traveled to Allen Field House in Lawrence, Kansas where we watched the University of Kansas men's basketball team beat the University of Michigan. During the half time, we got to see the new KU head football coach, Turner Gil. There was also a check presentation to Gale Sayers and Mable Mcclendon to benefit the Mcclendon Foundation.

 

Gale Sayers and Mable Mcclendon
Wednesday - December 16, 2009: L revisited the Broadmoor Bistro a restaurant operated by students at Broadmoor Technical Center (part of the Shawnee Mission School District) in Overland Park, Kansas.

L had Crispy Sea Bass with melted leeks, celeriac whipped potatoes and grapefruit "Air" for her entree, while I had mesquite grilled South Texas antelope chop with green chili & cheese grits, onion jam, Swiss chard, and red eye gravy. The antelope had too much "char" flavor from the mesquite, it overpowered the flavor of the meat. But I really enjoyed the onion jam.

 

Broadmoor Bistro - Overland Park, Kansas Broadmoor Bistro
Sunday - December 13, 2009: L and I drove to Lawrence, Kansas for supper at the Burger Stand at Dempsey's, a gourmet burger and Fries counter operated by Simon & Codi Bates and the well known Lawrence restaurateurs - Robert & Molly Krause. The burger counter is located in Dempsey's Irish Pub, but operates separately.

The simple menu includes 8 burgers, 2 salads, and four kinds of fries. They were out of the Black & Blue
Burger (blackening spice, Maytag blue cheese and granny smith apple chutney) which I wanted to try, so L had The Smoke Burger (apple wood smoked bacon, smoked gouda cheese and chipotle-cocoa ketchup) for $7.99, and I had The Classic (with Vermont cheddar & locally grown micro greens) for $6.99. Both were very enjoyable.

A bowl of Guinness Pork Chili ($4.50) was meaty and fairly mildly seasoned. We had both regular fries and sweet potato fries. They were cut very thin - which I thought worked better with the more flavorful sweet potato fries.

We followed up diner with a visit to the Howe Family animated Christmas light display, which is now added to the Lawrence Kansas Christmas Light Display Tour.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Howe Family Christmas light display - Lawrence, Kansas Howe Family Christmas light display

Saturday - December 12, 2009: Lunch was at the 5 year old Korma Sutra Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. The Indian restaurant has a lunch buffet Wednesday through Monday and serves dinner 7 days a week. Though no dish sampled really stood out, the food was good. The service is possibly to friendly, They insist on bringing items that weren't ordered to the table and don't pay attention if I said I did not want them.

Korma Sutra is kid friendly and may be a better choice for someone trying Indian food for the first time.

 

Korma Sutra Restaurant - Overland Park, Kansas Korma Sutra Restaurant
Thursday - December 10, 2009: Tonight's supper was a second visit to Nu Grill in Fort Scott. My young service was well intentioned, but clue less. The most extreme time was when she returned from getting drink refills for a person at another table and me. She had forgotten which drink was which and smelled them to decide which one to give me. The chili was very good, ad so meaty that it was my forth spoon full before I realized there were beans in chili. A very large serving is $3.29. The fresh made onion rings were wonderful!

 

Nu Grill - Fort Scott, Kansas Nu Grill
Wednesday - December 9, 2009: L joined me for my second meal at Freddy T's. She had the "world famous" pork tenderloin sandwich, which was good, but not a standout. I had the steak special of the day, which was a great deal at $9.

 

Tuesday - December 8, 2009: Lunch was at the Imo's Pizza franchise in Overland Park, the only Kansas location of the St. Louis, Missouri chain. Monday through Saturday, this Imo's has a lunch buffet for $6.25. They only have room to set out about three pizzas at once, and there can be a problem at times with little or no selection, but I think the thin crust pizza is very good, and they have a better salad bar than other area pizza buffets.

 

Imo's Pizza - Overland Park, Kansas Imo's Pizza
Monday - December 7, 2009: Today's lunch was at Freddy T's sports bar and restaurant in Olathe. It had been many years since I ate at this popular local hangout. Freddy T's offers a variety of flavors of chicken wings, and I had the traditional hot wings, which were very good. The home made French fries were average, but average homemade fries are better than those at the vast majority of restaurants.

The service was very good.

In the evening, two friends joined me to drive to Lawrence, Kansas, where we had supper at Local Burger. My meal was OK, but the food hasn't been special the last two times I have dined there.

We then scouted out two new homes for the Lawrence Christmas Light Display Tour. The first was the home of Lee Howe, who invited me to check out his animated sound and light display. It is a nice addition to a neighborhood that has several good Christmas displays

The second home is at the end of  dead end on Delaware Street. It is a large display with 17 inflatable yard decorations, but not very cohesive or easy to view.

 

Freddy T's - Olathe, Kansas Freddy T's
 
 
 

Howe Family Christmas Display - Lawrence, Kansas Howe Family Christmas Display

Saturday - December 5, 2009: For lunch, I finally had a chance to try Hot Basil Thai Cuisine in Overland Park. The small restaurant has only 10 tables. I had "mom original recipes" hot basil wings (crispy chicken wings sautéed in spicy garlic basil sauce), which were good, but not has flavorful as I wanted. The grilled chicken peanut salad (marinated chicken breast, grilled then tossed with fresh greens in the house dressing and topped with peanut sauce) was very good and I want to have it again.

 

Friday - December 4, 2009: L joined me for supper at Johnny Cascone's Italian Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. It was the first time that either of us had dined at Cascone's in many years, but it will not be the last. The service was impeccable - almost bordering on too attentive - and the food was very good. L had lasagna, a huge delicious serving, while I had the chicken Florentine daily special, which had been heavily recommended. The chicken breast stuffed with spinach was very good and my grilled asparagus and house salad were equally good.

We went on to Yardley Hall at Johnson County Community College for the University of Kansas Vespers, which was on the road for the first time in its 85th years. The large KU choir and symphony did a great job and we enjoyed the opportunity to sing along on a couple of the songs.

We concluded the evening by checking some additional Christmas displays. They included an interesting one in Overland Park where there is very nicely decorated home and the adjacent home has no Christmas decorations, but has an arrow pointing at the other house and the word "ditto." Also a neat Leawood, Kansas Christmas display with a runway and several flying Santas.

5 new listings were added to the Johnson County (Kansas City) Christmas light tour. The Christmas light tour is currently being view over 300 times a day!

 

Johnny Cascone's Italian Restaurant - Overland Park, Kansas Johnny Cascone's Italian Restaurant
 
 
 
 

Santa Claus Airport - Leawood, Kansas Two Santas prepare to take off while another Santa lifts off in a balloon

Thursday - December 3, 2009: Lunch was a revisit of Mariscos Veracruz Mexican restaurant, which I liked when I dined there in April, but never got around to reviewing. My previous meals were some less common items, but this time I went for a more standard dish at Mexican restaurants in Kansas - fajitas mixtas res, pollo & camaron (mixed fajitas with steak, chicken & shrimp). It tasted great, I would be happy to have any of the fajitas again. 

I also liked both the red and green salsas that came with complimentary chips.

Friends joined me for supper at Chez Yasu, a French restaurant in Topeka, Kansas. Although the exterior wasn't encouraging, we all enjoyed the atmosphere and the surprisingly reasonably priced food. Dinner for four of us came to just under $100 without wine. A real bargain for this level of food and service. 

Big hits for the group were the squash soup, salmon in lemon butter sauce and the roasted rack of lamb.

We followed supper with a revisit of the decorated homes on the Topeka Christmas Display Tour. Only one home had to be removed from the listing from 2008, and we found three new homes to add to the holiday light tour. The biggest changes from last year were at 2931 SE Virginia Avenue, where they have added a large nativity and a life-sized moving Santa Claus on a throne.

 

fajitas at  Marircos Veracruz Mexican restaurant fajitas mixtas

Chez Yasu - Topeka, Kansas Chez Yasu

Topeka Christmas light display with Santa Claus Virginia Avenue Christmas display

Wednesday - December 2, 2009: Lunch was a China Cafe at Strang Line Road and 119th Street in Olathe. It changed ownership about 6 months ago and this was my first visit with the new owners. 

This restaurant does a buffet at both lunch and supper. Lunch is a typical area Chinese buffet. It seems like most of these restaurants duplicate each other's buffet menu. But the food was above average - I particularly liked the hot and sour soup.

Supper was at the Longbranch Steakhouse Saloon in Lenexa, Kansas. I had tried several other items, but it was time to try their steak. Unfortunately, it was much over priced for a steak at a local bar, $25 with just one side dish. I can't justify spending that for something ordinary at a place without much atmosphere.

 

China Cafe - Olathe, Kansas China Cafe
Tuesday - December 1, 2009: L joined me for supper at the new Fritz's Railroad Restaurant in Shawnee, Kansas. This is the third location opened by Fritz's, the original restaurant has been open in Kansas City, Kansas since 1954, and is famous for the food being delivered by "Skat Cat" using an overhead track. The furnishings at this new facility are much more polished than those at the original location, but I think the Kansas City, Kansas location has more character and significantly better food.

In the evening, I photographed Nottingham by the Green subdivision in Overland Park, where all of the trees have green lights on the trunks and red lights in their lower branches.

 

Nottingham by the Green - Overland Park, Kansas Nottingham by the Green subdivision
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