Kansas Travel Blog

Chronicling changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration & photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals and art. Contact him.
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Cross-country skiing in Shawnee Mission Park
Sunday - January 31, 2010: Two friends joined me for lunch at the T-Rex Cafe in Kansas City, Kansas. It is one of the 10 most visited pages on this web site and it had been about two years since the last time I checked it out.

The T-Rex cafe is a dinosaur themed restaurant by Landry's - the same folks that developed the Rainforest Cafes. This was the first location for the restaurant and the only other location is at Disney's Market Place in Orlando.

Each meal I have had at T-Rex has been a bit better than the last and this was no exception The service was very good - even when compared to some of the finest restaurants in the KC area. We were all happy with with our food. I had a combination diner that included chicken, ribs, and shrimp. The ladies had planked salmon and another combination with two kinds of shrimp plus fish & chips. The servings we large and we each had excess food to take home. One of us also had French onion soup for $4.99. It was quite tasty and attractive and the serving must have been about 8 ounces.

I expanded the review of the T-Rex Cafe and added an additional page with the menu. The menu on the Cafe's on web site goes not include prices and is out of date.

This is the final day of Restaurant Week and L & I had dinner at the Capital Grille in Kansas City's Country Club Plaza. It was my first time in the building since the Bristol left that location years ago. 

The Capital Grille, was busy and live jazz was being played in the bar. We were seated at the far rear of the restaurant in a small dining room, crowded with 6 tables. The adjacent tables were quite close and it was hard to have a private conversation.

The restaurant was actively promoting the Harvester's menu. When we were seated, they asked if we were there for Restaurant Week, and only gave us the special menu. It was a larger selection than the other restaurants had offered, with a choice from 7 first rate entrees. In addition to the three courses, each meal came with mashed potatoes and very good fresh creamed spinach.

L had porcini rubbed filet mignon with 12 year aged balsamic vinegar. She prefers well done steaks, and the rub suffered a little being well done, but the meat was cooked perfectly.

I had double cut lamb rib chops - a generous serving of some of the best lamb I have ever tasted.

One of the most impressive things was listening to a server at another table encouraging people to order from the Restaurant Week menu, saying Harvester's is a great charity and that it was a good bargain. I think that few people would be willing to risk giving up over half of their income so that the customers and charity would benefit.


animatronic dinosaur at the T-Rex Cafe children reaching for an animatronic dinosaur

Boneyard Buffet at the T-Rex Cafe Boneyard Buffet

lamb rib chops - Capital Grille Kansas City double cut lamb rib chops

Saturday - January 30, 2010: We made an overdue visit to the 1915 Strang Carriage House, which is the home of the Overland Park Historical Society. It is located in the Santa Fe Commons park on the edge of downtown Overland Park, Kansas. The attractive, but small ,building houses a collection of historic photographs and documents, as well as a few small displays of local artifacts. It is more a place for researching Overland Park history, than a museum. Added a new review of the Strang Carriage House.

The trip was completed with lunch at Bangkok Pavilion Restaurant which I had recently discovered has a much expanded Thai buffet on the weekends. It continues to be a real treat. I liked many of the items we tried, particularly the flounder curry, fried curry rice with seasoned pork rind, and garlic shrimp (with head and shell on).

Updated and greatly expanded the review of Museum of World Treasures in Wichita, Kansas.


Strang Carriage House - Overland Park, Kansas Strang Carriage House
Friday - January 29, 2010: Tonight we finally tried the year old Edokko Japanese Restaurant in Lenexa. Edokko occupies the corner of a strip mall, next to KC Grill and Kabob. The restaurant is attractive inside, with two levels of seating. The dining area is brighter than many of the area's Japanese restaurants.

We started with sashimi, crab rangoon and spicy crab salad. The tuna was pretty good, but I didn't care much for the flavor or texture of the eel (which is usually my favorite). There were 6 large crab rangoon for $4.95. They had a lot of fairly sweet filling and the tips were not overcooked. There was a generous serving of spicy crab salad for $5.95. I didn't notice much crab in it, but enjoyed the flavor. It was my favorite dish of the evening.

L selected the lobster teriyaki which came with, vegetables, soup and rice for $20.95. An upgrade to plain fried rice was $2. I had squid teriyaki for $15.95. I requested brown rice for an additional 50 cents, but when the food was brought, we learned that they were out of brown rice.

I was not impressed with any of these items. Of all of them, the squid teriyaki was my favorite. I liked the texture of the squid, but was only so-so about the sauce.

After hearing many recommendations of Edokko, my expectations may have been too high. I thought the food was just average. But may be we hit an off night or didn't select the right items. I am not prepared to write off Edokko and will try it again.


Edokko Japanese Restaurant - Lenexa, Kansas Edokko Japanese Restaurant

lobster teriyaki at Edokko Japanese Restaurant lobster teriyaki

Thursday - January 28, 2010: Our second Kansas City Restaurant Week meal was tonight at the American Restaurant at Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The American Restaurant has a high reputation ,and is highly rated with the AAA Four Diamonds & the Mobil Travel Guide Four Stars ratings. I have dined there a couple of times in the past, but it has been many years and this was my first time there since chef Celina Tio left to open her own restaurant.

Entering the multi level restaurant is impressive. As you walk toward the hostess station, the elegant restaurant opens out before you. The far walls are two stories' of windows looking out over Crown Center and the Kansas City skyline. The hostess was welcoming and we had a short wait near the bar for our table to be readied.

The menu at the American is focused on courses, than on separate dishes. Some items have up charges, but the pricing is primarily: 3 courses $55, 4 courses $65, 5 courses $75, 6 courses $83, 7 courses $90, 8 courses $97, 9 courses $104, and so on. Tonight's Restaurant Week menu's limited choice of 3 courses would let me decide if we wanted to return for a more significant meal.

Our server was a bright young man who was knowledgeable about the menu & how the dishes were prepared. He was very helpful at first, but appeared to lose interest after it was clear that we were not going to be running up a large bill.

While we were waiting for the first course, we were served a complimentary shot of a squash soup that was tasty, with a strong flavor of nutmeg.

For our first course, L selected Spinach and Arugula Salad with spiced pear, pecans, orange and ginger, while I had Pork Belly Dumplings with seasonal mushrooms, smoked apple and bok choy. The dumplings were my favorite dish of the night. Each of the elements of the dish had rich flavor, particularly the dumplings and smoked apple.

While we were waiting for the next course, I overheard our server tell the couple at an adjoining table that the restaurant was out of veal, and felt fortunate that we had arrived earlier.

For our second course, L had Campo Lindo Chicken with bacon, fig & cocoa beans, and I had ordered Braised Quebecois Veal with blood orange, quinoa, chestnuts & endive. But has the dish was set in front of me (by someone other than our server) the man said, "and here is your pork" (Slow Roasted Berkshire Pork with Anson Mill grits and pear). 

Since the veal that I wanted was unavailable (and the pork wasn't bad), I didn't lodge a complaint.

L liked her chicken a great deal, but was unimpressed with the tiny bits of bacon fat that accompanied it.

Our selections for the final course were Peppermint "S'mores" with homemade graham cracker, marshmallow, magic shell & peppermint sorbet, and frozen "baklava" with honey, pistachio financier, crispy phyllo & pistachio gelato. These were both good, but I wasn't tempted to have more than just a taste, the way I was at the Hereford House two nights earlier.

Overall, it wasn't a bad experience, but it wasn't the kind that makes me want to return and drop a couple of hundred dollars on a meal for two.



The American Restaurant - Kansas City, Missouri The American Restaurant

Pork Belly Dumplings at The American Restaurant Pork Belly Dumplings

Tuesday - January 26, 2010: L and I are taking advantage of Kansas City Restaurant Week to help Harvesters while visiting some of the nicer Kansas City restaurants that I have been wanting to try for this web site. Tonight we had supper at the Hereford House in Shawnee, Kansas. Even though it is two years old and located right off I-435, this restaurant is west of the freeway and most people in the area have not known it is there.

The Restaurant Week special supper was a three course meal for $30. L chose artichoke & spinach dip, a 6 ounce fillet dijon, and cheesecake, while I had Kansas City strip steak with peppercorn au poivre sauce, white chocolate bread pudding, and seafood stuffed mushrooms. The entrees came with the choice of a side dish (L had twice baked potato and I had seasonal vegetables), but no salad.

I thought the artichoke & spinach dip was pretty bland, but enjoyed the four large mushroom caps stuffed with crab & shrimp with a cream cheese filling. It is definitely a dish I would have again. I thought the dijon & brown sugar sauce was the best of the two sauces, but think both steaks would be better without the sauces. My KC strip was perfectly cooked - medium as I ordered. Really too nice a piece of meat to cover with the sauce.

Both desserts were huge. Either one would have been plenty for two people. The cheese cake we selected was strawberry, but they brought raspberry instead - which was doubly odd, since raspberry was not even one of the options. It was still good, though I didn't think it held a candle to the New Orleans style bread pudding,
served warm with white chocolate ganache and caramel sauce and flambé with a shot of rum. It was not flamed at the table, but the flavor was complex and wonderful. It took a lot of discipline to have only a taste of the bread pudding and finish it.

Service was good, attentive without being intrusive. When we asked what the au poivre sauce was like, the waiter brought a taste of it to the table.

This was, by far, the best experience that I have ever had at the local chain of Hereford House restaurants.


Sunday - January 24, 2010: I spent the night at the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham just off East Kellogg, near the Kansas Turnpike east Wichita Exit. After finding a good rate for pre purchase on the Travelocity web site, I had checked the Hawthorn Suites site and found the same $53.10 rate, without paying in advance.

This was the best room for the price that I have found in 15 - 20 stays in Wichita over a number of years. The room was a nice studio apartment with a complete kitchen - it even had an ice maker. The room came with a breakfast that I didn't have time to sample, but it included sausage, scrambled eggs and biscuits & gravy. I will be checking on this motel for my future stays in the Wichita area.

The first stop of the day was at the Sedgwick County Zoo. It had been a couple of years since I last visited this zoo and I wanted to  photograph the new penguin exhibit. It is nice, but a little less than I expected, considering
the overall caliber of the Sedgwick County Zoo.

It was a cold morning (35 degrees) for taking photos outside, so after taking some shots at the penguin exhibit, I moved on into some of the buildings.

When I arrived at the Jungle building my camera fogged up and took about 10 minutes to warm up, and I found a comfortable spot to sit and watch the Giant Indian Fruit Bats. They were fascinating and once my camera warmed I spent about 30 minutes trying to get some photos I could be proud of. And failing. I would probably need to work at it for a coupe of days.

The large bats (many over a foot long) look particularly big when they extended their wings to fly. It is nothing creepy like watching and being close to small bats. When they moved around the trees it alternately reminded me of monkeys and sloths. I guess there are only so many ways to hang. I quickly learned to not stand under them and did see one man hit on the head by falling guano.

I can tell that some movie makers have modeled the movement of their flying dinosaurs on large bats.

Leaving Wichita, on the way to Newton, I stumbled across a set of great sculptures when I stopped to get gas in Park City. Right across the street from the gas station there were a set of Frank Jensen plate steel sculptures titled "Chisholm Trail." Frank is the mostly retired artist who has Henry's Sculpture Hill in the nearby community of Augusta.

Continuing north to Newton, Kansas I stopped for lunch at the Breadbasket. Though the restaurant was previously closed on Sundays, they now offer a 5 meat buffet on Sunday from 10:30AM - 2PM for $11.99 including beverage.

Although this isn't the special treat that the Breadbasket's Friday and Saturday German buffets are, it was still pretty good. For the most part, I liked the side dishes and deserts more than the meats, with the fried chicken being my favorite. The breaded fried shrimp appeared to be a hit with other customers.

Than out to the Chisholm Trail shopping Center south of Newton where the Kansas Sports Museum moved earlier this month. There are currently no signs for the museum at the entrance to the shopping center or on the nearby freeway.

The new building isn't as interesting as the lovely old building the museum shared with the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in Wichita's Old Town, but the new museum setting is spacious and light. The museum touches on all levels of Kansas sports history, but I suspect that folks are most interested in exhibits devoted to Kansans like Lynette Woodard, Gale Sayers, James Naismith, and Wilt Chamberlain.

The Kansas Sports Museum is a must stop for alumni of Wichita State, Kansas State and the University of Kansas.

The drive back toward northeast was mostly uneventful, though I did stop to photograph one of the huge flocks of geese near the highway. I saw many such flocks during the weekend.

The final stop of the weekend was in Lawrence, where two friends joined me for supper at Paisano's Ristorante, which has been called the most romantic restaurant in Lawrence. I'm not sure if it is the most romantic, but it one of the darkest. It was too dark for photography without using a flash. 

We had the bruschetta ($5.99) and eggplant fritta ($7.99) appetizers. I wasn't impressed with the bruschetta but liked the eggplant wedges topped with spinach and Italian cheese then lightly breaded and fried. 

There are no low carb options on the menu, so I selected the Steak Pizzaiola (pan seared 8 ounce sirloin with onions, garlic & bell peppers, simmered with plain tomatoes and red wine sauce) which was served with spaghetti for $14.59. Certainly reasonable and fairly good (particularly the wine sauce), but I would probably not order it again. My friend had the "taste of Italy" (chicken parmigiana, lasagna & fettuccini alfredo for $15.49) and the "pesce vino bianco) (shrimp, langostinos & scallops in a parmesan, wine, cream sauce for $16.99). I thought the lasagna was the best.


Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham - Wichita, Kansas Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham

Humboldt Penquin (Spheniscus humboldti)
Humboldt Penguin

Giant Indian Fruit Bat (Pteropus giganteus) Giant Indian Fruit Bat

Frank Jensen sculpture in Park City, Kansas Frank Jensen sculpture

Breadbasket - Newton, Kansas Breadbasket

Kansas Sports Museum - Newton, Kansas Kansas Sports Museum

Paisano's Ristorante - Lawrence, Kansas Paisano's Ristorante


Saturday - January 23, 2010: On the road to Wichita again this Saturday, with no weather or traffic problems. I had cheeseburger at Bomber Burger for a late breakfast. The $5.50 2/3 pound burger was every bit as good as the first one that I had last June. I had it with "everything" which was onion, pickle, ketchup and mustard.

I was the only customer in the the joint at 10AM, though the owner, Chris, was semi entertaining two boys whom I assume are his sons.

The first attraction revisited was Museum of World Treasures which is in Wichita's Old Town. It had been about 3 years since I first went to the museum and there have been many changes. The museum's Marketing Assistant, Caitlin Muret had come in on her day off to take me on a tour. The most visible change was the addition on Ivan, a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. In addition to exhibits that have been replaced, many of the existing exhibits have been updated and have much more information.

Finishing up at the museum, it was time for a late lunch at my favorite place for BBQ - B&C Creations, which is also in the Old Town area and only open for lunch. It had been two years, since my last meal at B&C Creations, and I am thrilled to say that the food is still every bit as good. Everything on the simple buffet is better than average and the ribs, brisket, hot links, spicy beans and garlic coleslaw were all outstanding!

The atmosphere in the old garage has fallen off a bit, the large old wooden bar is now gone and the decorative items and art that used to be offered for sale in the front of the building are now gone.

Before leaving central Wichita, I drove east looking for a folk art environment that was once visited by Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations. I didn't have the address, but knew roughly where it was located and sure enough, encountered the environment at 1st Street and Grove Street. This turned out not to be the house itself, but an extension of the rock gardens running from the Dan Beck home around the corner at 225 North Poplar Avenue. Although extensive and unusual, this wasn't the time of year when the environment is worth visiting. I need to return when the plants are growing.

Through, for the time being, in Wichita, I headed south out of town on highway K-15, driving through Derby and on to the Mulvane Historical Museum in Mulvane. The local historical museum had been unexpectedly closed when I stopped there in 2007 and I had been wanting to try again.

Although (based on the guest register) I was only their second visitor all day, but the two ladies in the office ignored me. I walked through on my own and took photos for this site. The old railroad depot the museum is housed in is great, but the museum itself appeared to have little to interest people that don't live in Mulvane. There was another building and old caboose, but both were locked and I do not know if there was anything more to see.

My last stop on this southern swing was Wyldewood Cellars Winery which is located next to I-35 (Kansas Turnpike). The large retail operation sells wines from a wide variety of fruits and is know for its elderberry wine. They were not offering tasting today, so I decided not to make a purchase.

After checking into my hotel back in Wichita, I went to supper at Thai Tradition restaurant where I previously dined in 2007. The attractive, sophisticated Thai restaurant was busy, but they were able to find a both for me along the wall. 

I had an interesting appetizer which I had never seen before - 2 pork stuffed chicken wings for about $8. They were large, about 7'' long, and had the meat from the first two bones and the entire wing tip The meat was wrapped by a mixture that reminded me of an egg roll in taste (though not texture), then rolled in a batter and deep fried. I don't think I would order them again, but I did enjoy them.

Finished with a Seafood Volcano. Shrimp, scallops, mussels, veggies & mushrooms in a wonderful spicy sweet sauce. I had ordered my meal spicy and been warned that it would be very hot, but felt this was just a medium. I am guessing that they don't trust people that aren't regular customers, not to order hotter than they will really want.

Finishing up at Thai Tradition, I raced across town and arrived at the Keeper of the Plains statue with just enough time to take a dozen photos of the nightly "Ring of Fire."

I would have finished the evening at the Wichita State University Lake Afton Public Observatory and looking through their 16" telescope, but it was an overcast night.


Bomber Burger - Wichita, Kansas Bomber Burger

Museum of World Treasures - Wichita, Kansas Tyrannosaurus & Daspletosaurus at the Museum of World Treasures

B&C Creations - Wichita, Kansas
B&C BBQ buffet

Dan Beck garden environment - Wichita, Kansas Dan Beck art environment

Thai Tradition restaurant - Wichita, Kansas Thai Tradition restaurant

Ring of Fire - Keeper of the Plains Ring of Fire

Thursday - January 21, 2010: I tried the new Wei's Super Buffet in Olathe for a second time. This time going for the lunch buffet and avoiding the Mongolian BBQ where the chef was so rude during my first visit to the Chinese restaurant. They must be getting over the opening jitters, the food was better this time. But there was still nothing to make me select this restaurant in a community with so many nearby Chinese restaurants.

There were still service issues. It took a very long time to get a bill and pay for the meal. One diner at a nearby table became so impatient that he stood until they would bring him his change.

Supper was a real treat. L and went to the new 75 Cafe near Quivira and 75th Street in Shawnee. It was recommended on the Kansas City Lunch Spots web site. 75 Cafe is another  nicer lunch spot, settling nicely into a niche which has been growing in Johnson County. 

75 is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, and is only open for supper on Thursday and Friday nights. It is operated by the Executive Catering company. The food we ordered tonight may be the most expensive that I have ordered at a counter in Johnson County, but it was also some of the best food that I have ordered at a counter. The food was brought to our table by a server who also did a fine job of maintaining our drinks and bussing the table.

In addition to their regular lunch menu, there were 4 dinner specials priced from $14 - 19. L had the pan seared Pacific snapper with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables for $15.99, while I had the fillet with the same sides for $18.99. I took a chance and ordered the fillet the way I wanted it (medium), and that was the way it came. That may not sound like a big thing, but I have grown accustomed to meat coming far over cooked. The sides were both good . L loved them more than I did, and was also quite please with her fish.

We returned to the counter to purchase a dessert - They offer a variety of elaborate cupcakes. We settled instead on a cupcake sized pumpkin cheesecake for $4. I thought it was the best part of the meal, but L thought there should have been more pumpkin flavor.

75 Cafe does not have liquor license, but you are encouraged to bring your own wine.


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

75 Cafe - Shawnee, Kansas 75 Cafe

Wednesday - January 20, 2010: With very little time to have supper, I got a double Winstead Steakburger and onion rings at Winstead's in Lenexa. It was my first time dining at this location of the KC area chain and the first time at any Winstead's in over a year.

Even though there is a drive through window, this is not fast food. My meal was cooked fresh and it took about 8 minutes. The cheeseburger was good. At Winstead's "everything" is mustard, ketchup, pickle and onion. There are up charges for cheese, lettuce, tomato or bacon, but mayo and grilled onion are available for no additional charge. But the onion rings were the standout. Some of the best that I have had at a (small) chain restaurant. 

With a large soda, the tab came to $8.23.


Tuesday - January 19, 2010: L and I tried Cafe Augusta in Lenexa, Kansas again for lunch and for the first time, there were no major miscues. I had the Caesar salad with chicken, while L had the daily special of chicken pot pie. Both were very good, though the minimum service lunch was a bit pricey at over $26 including sodas and tax.

The kitchen is still slow and it took an hour for us to complete our meal.


Cafe Augusta - Lenexa, Kansas Cafe Augusta
Sunday - January 17, 2010: Two friends joined me for lunch at Granny's Chicken Ranch in Kansas City, Kansas. Granny's has a new menu, but we ordered old standbys - fried chicken gizzards and pan fried chicken. 

I can't help comparing Granny's to Stroud's, they have such similar food and serving styles. For me, Stroud's has the edge several ways, but Granny's does very well and is better in some things. Particularly with the bread. Stroud's is known for its cinnamon rolls. but Granny's has larger, more traditional cinnamon rolls and provides good drop biscuits as well.


Saturday - January 16, 2010: I left town early this morning heading to Wichita to revisit some restaurants and attractions. There was dense fog, and with the temperature just a little above freezing, I-35 was slick.

I saw many cars off the road, but was able to safely drive at about 50 mph. Until I approached the Wellsville exit, where road crews first forced the traffic into one lane and then off of I-35 at Wellsville. The freeway was closed because of a 30 vehicle pile up about 40 minutes earlier.

Giving up on the Wichita trip, I decided to stay in the KC metro area. After visiting my office, I drove to downtown Kansas City, Missouri to try The Farmhouse, a fairly new restaurant in the River Market area that has been getting a lot of good buzz.

Recently opened by chefs Michael Foust and Zeb Humphrey, The Farmhouse uses local ingredients to produce creative comfort food. It turns out that on Saturdays, they do not offer their lunch menu - only breakfast items are available before 5 PM.

I settled on a 3 egg omelet with spinach, gruyere, bacon and caramelized onion. Listed as a "large plate" for $6.50 it didn't seem very large and came with no sides, not even toast. The taste was OK, about like I make at home.

Then over to Bartle Hall to the big combined Mid-America RV and Boat Show which now runs over two weekends. The crowd was larger than I have seen at the RV show in several years. Most of the people appeared to be exploring the motor homes, trailers, and 5th wheels. This show does offer a couple of entertainment options, but they do not run very often and I think this show is really only going to interest people fairly seriously interested in a RV or small boat.

Before calling it a day, I did some exploring in Kansas City, Kansas, concluding with a meal at Woodyard Bar-B-Que which has expanded its hours until 8 PM on Tuesday - Saturday. They used to be open for lunch only.

Woodyard BBQ has received positive press, but my experiences there have never been very good. I like the unusual aspects of the restaurant, which is located in an old house next to an actual wood yard which sells various kinds of wood for smoking and grilling. The large brick smoker is in the front yard and you get to walk past the smoker going into the restaurant.

Going up to the counter, the young woman expected me to order without seeing a menu. There is no menu posted anywhere. After I explained that I hadn't been to the restaurant recently and didn't have their menu memorized, she dug around and handed me a badly grease stained paper menu.

I selected the 4 wing combo which comes with 2 sides for $7.95 and set down to wait for my food. And wait. After nearly 15 minutes I went back up to the women to ask how much longer it would be. She looked at me blankly and had no idea what I had ordered or that I hadn't been served.

Finally someone from the kitchen intervened and asked what I had ordered (and already paid for). After a couple more minutes wait, that person brought out my food with just a "sorry about that."

The wings were, luke warm, small and not very meaty, but at least they were the entire wings, not the jointer thirds that most restaurants call a chicken wing these days. The meat was tender and VERY smoky. The smoke taste pretty much overcame any other seasoning. The taste was not bad, but I still had the smoke flavor in my mouth hours later. The sides (cheesy corn & coleslaw) had little flavor and I took only a couple of bites of each. The cheesy corn tasted and looked like canned corn with just a hint of cheese sauce.

I want to like Woodyard Bar-B-Que and keep going back every year or so, but just don't understand the raves it receives from some BBQ aficionados.



The Farmhouse restaurant - Kansas City, Missouri The Farmhouse

Mid-America RV and Boat Show

Woodyard Bar-B-Que - Kansas City, Kansas
Woodyard Bar-B-Que

Thursday - January 14, 2010: Today I dined at 54th Street Grill & Bar in Olathe for the first time in over year. I wanted to update its listing in the Olathe Kansas Restaurant and Attraction Guide. I've been happy with 54th Street before, but had never tried anything from the "South of the Border" section of the menu.

I had the "The Street's Sizzling Fajita Skillet" (A sizzling skillet of fire grilled meat atop a bed of sautéed red and green peppers and onions served with rice, flour tortillas, pico de gallo, sour cream, shredded cheddar, lettuce and salsa, With 11 ounces of chicken this is $11.49.

This dish did not live up to my previous experiences at 54th Street grill. The meat serving did not seem nearly 11 ounces and the meat, onion and peppers had little flavor - as if it was pre-cooked and just reheated before serving. I definitely wouldn't have this dish again, and need to go to 54th Street again to make sure the kitchen hasn't slipped on other items.


54th Street Grill and Bar - Olathe, Kansas 54th Street Grill & Bar
Wednesday - January 13, 2010: Lunch was a second meal at Bash Riprocks Restaurant and Bar in Olathe, Kansas. I was sorry to learn that the Wednesday special of half price burgers listed on Bash Riprocks' web site is only available at night. I decided to have burger anyway and ordered the Builders Pride Burger which offers the choice of cheddar, pepper jack, American or Swiss. Choice of bacon, mushrooms, grilled onions, jalapenos, guacamole, sour cream or fried egg. Garnished and served on an egg kaiser bun with the choice of seasoned fries, potato salad or cottage cheese for $7.99.

Sounds great, but my medium rare burger came well done and the burger was only average. I did enjoy the seasoned fries.

Service was haphazard again. Good at first, but I had to wait a very long time to pay my bill. Fortunately I had my computer and was taking advantage of the free wifi to work while I waited.

Supper was at Mi Ranchito Cocina & Cantina Mexicana in Lenexa - the restaurant that had the misfortune of becoming famous last summer when a former employee poisoned the customers.

There are fairly few low carb offerings at most Mexican restaurants and I chose the Mi Casa Fajitas with steak, chicken, shrimp and chirozo sausage grilled together for $13.49. Like all of Mi Ranchito's fajitas, it came with onions, bell peppers, refried beans, rice, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo and flour tortillas.

The meal was very good. I liked the flavor of the meats, onions, peppers and refried beans. The complimentary chips and salsa were also good. The salsa was very mild, but hot sauce was already on the table to perk it up.


Bash Riprocks Restaurant and Bar - Olathe, Kansas Bash Riprocks Restaurant & Bar

Mi Ranchito Cocina and Cantina Mexicana - Lenexa, Kansas Mi Ranchito Cocina & Cantina Mexicana

Monday - January 11, 2010: Had supper at Talk of the Town Grill & Bar in Overland Park, Kansas. Mondays they have a wing special of 5 thirds for $2.50. I had the Caribbean jerk, which wasn't as tasty as the last time I was there. 

My entree was Chicken Caesar Wrap (Grilled chicken with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing, wrapped in a sun dried tomato tortilla) which is $7.99 with the choice of chips or seasoned fries. It is a very good value, but I would have liked it more if there had been more dressing.

I do appreciate the free wifi, which worked well.


Talk of the Town Grill & Bar - Overland Park, Kansas Talk of the Town Grill & Bar
Sunday - January 10, 2010: Lunch was the Sunday brunch buffet at Tannahs Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. Tannahs' Asian fusion theme was represented in a large selection of mostly spicy dishes. The breakfast dishes on the buffet are more traditional. Dishes that I liked included Szechwan beef, Szechwan chicken, vegetable stir fry, and the spicy but sweet sriracha chicken wings. $12/person.

Added a new page of photos and a review of St. Fidelis Cemetery in Victoria, Kansas with its interesting old iron "Volga" crosses. Victoria is better known for St. Fidelis Catholic Church, better known as the Cathedral of the Plains.



St. Fidelis Cemetery - Victoria, Kansas St. Fidelis Cemetery

Saturday - January 9, 2010: Two friends joined me for lunch at 715 Restaurant which opened 3 months ago in Lawrence, Kansas. 715 is located at 715 Massachusetts Avenue and opens each morning at 7:15 AM. The chef Michael Beard and manager Matt Hyde both worked formerly at Tellers, another slightly upscale restaurant located down the block and across the street.

The restaurant is long and narrow and the furnishings are simple and modern. It seems to work well in the 150 year old Anderson Building with its 14" thick stone walls. It was a very cold day and I didn't want to sit close to the front door, so we sat near the back of the restaurant. That worked, until some of the employees used the emergency exit at the back to step outside to smoke.

We began our meal with a $7 cheese plate. 715 Restaurant attempts to use local and regional ingredients, and in this case that turned out to be Maytag blue cheese from Newton, Iowa and Musser's Aged Private Stock ( a delicious white cheddar) from Milton Creamery in Milton, Iowa.

The lunch menu was mainly individual pizzas, pastas and panninis. My low carb options were limited to quiche and three salads. I chose the "rare hare barns" (rabbit confit, arugula, grilled radicchio, and fresh orange with citrus vinaigrette) for $9. I enjoyed the rabbit, but otherwise didn't care that much for the rather small salad.

My friends were happier with their pizzas. One had house pepperoni, red onion, & fresh mozzarella, while the other had house pork sausage & stracchino cheese with added house smoked bacon. The pizzas were each $9. with an additional $3 for the bacon.

The pizzas were fairly thin crust, except for the large outer edge. The crust had good flavor and the toppings were tasty, though a bit sparse.

At the conclusion of the meal, our server brought us a complimentary custard tart that was my favorite part of the meal. When we thanked her, she explained that they have a baker who formerly worked at Spago.

Following lunch, we went over to the Kansas River (locally known as the Kaw) to where the water tumbling over a dam keeps the river surface free of ice all year. At times like this when there is no other local open water, this is a gathering place for eagles. But there were no eagles around today.


715 Restaurant - Lawrence, Kansas 715 Restaurant

Kansas River - Lawrence Kansas River

Thursday - January 7, 2010: Lunch was a revisit of Austin's Bar & Grill in Olathe, Kansas. I had the grilled chicken Caesar salad. The chicken was very good. The overall salad would have been better if the romaine lettuce hadn't been quite so cold. It was almost like putting ice in my month.

For supper, L joined me for a second meal at  Johnny Cascone's Italian Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas, which we both enjoyed in December.

We began with Calimari Fritti (battered and deep fried squid,  dusted with grated Romano cheese and served with tomato sauce. It was typical, except for the few slices of deep fried pepperoncini, which were good mixed with the squid.

My entree was italian sausage dinner (grilled sweet Italian sausage served with grilled bell peppers, sweet onions and potatoes). I loved the peppers, onions & potatoes, but the sausage was a little sweet for my taste. 

L had one the daily specials - shrimp fettuccini & chicken fettuccini. I really enjoyed my taste of their traditional fettuccini alfredo sauce.

Added a new page of photos and a review of Mariscos Veracruz Restaurant in Olathe. A great place for seafood dishes from Veracruz, Mexico and tongue & beef head soft tacos.


Austin's Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas Austin's Bar & Grill

Marircos Veracruz Restaurant - Olathe, Kansas Marircos Veracruz

Wednesday - January 6, 2010: With the start of the new year, I am slowly verifying and updating all of the reviews on this web site. I am also trying to revisit the Olathe and Overland Park restaurants and check for current menus or other changes. 

Lunch was at Pickering's Pub & Eatery in Olathe, Kansas. I went for the Wednesday half price burgers, but decided to have the chicken wings as well. They are pricey, a half order with 5 wing thirds is $5.99, but they have excellent flavor that comes from the cooking rather than just dipping in a heavy sauce before serving. I think these are the best wings I have had in Olathe.


Pickering's Pub and Eatery - Olathe, Kansas Pickering's Pub & Eatery
Tuesday - January 5, 2010: Lunch was Buffalo wings and spinach salad at Bash Riprocks Restaurant and Bar in Olathe, Kansas. The large $4.95 salad was quite good and I enjoyed the wings. Service wasn't very good in the dining area. With only a couple of tables of customers, the server wasn't paying enough attention. The dining area is very dark, but sports fans may enjoy the small tvs placed at some of the booths.

Added a new page of photos and a review of Shawnee Mission Park in Lenexa and Shawnee, Kansas. 


Bash Riprocks Bar & Grill - Olathe, Kansas Bash Riprocks booth with personal tv
Monday - January 3, 2010: Added a new page of photos and a review of Schermerhorn Park and the SouthEast Kansas Nature Center in Galena, Kansas.


Sunday - January 2, 2010: Today's lunch was dim sum at Pine & Bamboo Garden in Shawnee, Kansas. I've been told that Pine and Bamboo Garden is very authentic Chinese food. I don't know how accurate that is, but I was about the only person speaking English in the whole restaurant. 

The selection isn't as large as the dim sum at Bo Ling's. My favorite item by far was the shark fin soup, which I have never had before, so I can't compare it to others. With a little soy & hot sauce, the bok choy dumplings were very good as well.

In the afternoon I went cross-country skiing in Shawnee Mission Park in Lenexa and Shawnee. Shawnee Mission Park was full of other skiers, sledders, orienteers & 2 misguided bicyclists. There are many good places for sledding in Shawnee Mission Park, but the longest run appears to be on the back side of the dam.

I saw no deer and the volunteer at the Visitor's Center said that he has seen no white tail deer in Shawnee Mission Park since the herd was culled last fall. But I did find a place under an evergreen tree where a couple of deer had bedded down the night before.

L and I had supper at Stix Restaurant in the Legends in Kansas City, Kansas. We did the hibachi grill. The teppanyaki style cooking was typical of Japanese restaurants in the Johnson and Wyandotte County area. The large scallops were tender and had very good flavor but I thought the chicken was so-so .

The onion soup that came with the meal was quite flavorful, rather than the clear tasteless soup that often accompanies teppanyaki in the Kansas City area.


Pine and Bamboo Garden - Shawnee, Kansas  Pine & Bamboo Garden

Shawnee Mission Park Lake Shawnee Mission Park Lake 

Stix Restaurant - Kansas City, Kansas Stix Restaurant 

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