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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Visit my Michigan Straits of Mackinac site:  www.mightymac.org

Wednesday - March 31, 2010:  I returned to Fat Katz BBQ in Gardner, Kansas to try some additional items. The servings were not as generous as the first visit, but the food was all good. The pork was much better than the beef brisket from the week before. 

I rarely get turkey at a BBQ restaurant, but I was very glad I tried the turkey at Fat Katz. The thin sliced turkey breast had a rich, smoky flavor and was a real treat.

 

Fat Katz BBQ - Gardner, Kansas Fat Katz BBQ
Tuesday - March 30, 2010:  We returned to Hot Wok Chinese Restaurant in Overland Park to compare the weekday lunch buffet with the evening. Although there were a few less shrimp dishes, the selection was still large and varied. I particularly enjoyed the grilled squid and the "seafood grill" which was is like a krab salad with cheese. 

I'm afraid I overate - there were too many appealing items. Hot Wok has become my favorite Kansas Chinese Buffet.

Our supper was a real treat! A James Beard Foundation Benefit dinner at the Broadmoor Bistro in Broadmoor Technical Center in Overland Park. The Bistro is part of the Shawnee Mission School District and the student operated restaurant is open Wednesday evenings during the school year. But once a month, they have a benefit James Beard Dinner.

The event was much more intimate than I expected. There were only 40 people, and we were invited to go by the kitchen and see what was going on, both before and during the multi course meal. The school's chef/instructor brought the two celebrity chefs (Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake in San Francisco & many TV shows; and Celina Tio, who now has her own restaurant in Brookside, but made her name at the American Restaurant) out several times to speak to us and come by the tables.

We were at a 6 place table. The parents of one of the students sat to my right. It turns out that he used to date some of our friends. A woman and her son sat to L's left. He turned out to be the owner at Cafe Trio in Kansas City, Missouri, and gave us a card inviting us to supper on him.

Before the 4 course meal, there were hors d'oevres including deep fried sweet breads, and "popcorn shrimp" with real popcorn served on spoons.

The Explosive Caesar salad got the most attention. The romaine was in individual stalks. The "Sphered" Ceasar dressing had a thin coating like an egg yolk keeping it separate from the pop rocks until you broke it. Then you could pick up the talk and enjoy the explosive dish.

My favorite item was Berkshire pork. by I also liked the One Eyed Jack (toast, egg, pork, pickle)

The event lasted over 2.5 hours and was a lot of fun. We both want to go to James Beard Dinner again.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 

Elizabeth Falkner Elizabeth Falkner and the students who assisted her at the James Beard Dinner
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Popcorn shrimp at James Beard Dinner Popcorn shrimp

 
Monday - March 29, 2010:  I had lunch at Ari's Greek Restaurant in Olathe, Kansas. It was my first meal at Ari's since last summer and the first time I tried them for lunch in several years. Although Ari's offers one lunch special a day, there is no lunch menu. There was only one other table with customers when I arrived at 12:30.

Looking at the regular menu, I settled on the Grilled Chicken Wrap (marinated grilled chicken breast with seasoning tossed with artichoke hearts, tomato, lettuce and Ari's dressing wrapped in a sun dried tomato shell) which came with one side for 7.95. I liked the salad (lettuce, feta cheese, tomato, olives, cucumbers tossed in Ari's Greek dressing) that came with it, but would have liked a little more dressing for both the salad and the wrap.

 

Grilled Chicken Wrap at Ari's Greek Restaurant Grilled Chicken Wrap
Sunday - March 28, 2010:  Two friends joined me for supper at Jerry's Bait Shop in Lenexa's Old Town It has been a couple of years since I tried the small bar & grill. The band Green Eyed Stare was setting up for later in the evening, but there were only a few people sitting at the bar when we arrived.

We settled on hot wings ($7.99), a small Lunker pizza ($9.99) and Bones ($6.49), which is pizza crust stuffed with mozzarella and served with marinara and ranch dressing. The 13 wings were meaty and had a good flavor. I didn't think that the Lunker pizza (pepperoni, sausage, beef, Canadian bacon and Italian sausage) had much flavor, but both of my friends thought it was pretty good. Jerry's serves both thin and thick crust. This was the thick, but it was more of an average thickness.

The Bones stuffed pizza crust was the most popular item. We had added sausage for only $.50.

 

at Jerry's Bait Shop Bones at Jerry's Bait Shop
Saturday - March 27, 2010:  I had lunch at B.R.G.R. Kitchen And Bar, the new upscale burger place which opened on March 10, 2010 in the Corinth Square Shopping Center in Prairie Village. B.R.G.R. is similar to other local grommet burger bars such as Blanc Burgers & Bottles, but for my money, is more comfortable and the food works better.

Most of the half pound burgers are about $8 and are serve ala carte. I selected a Roadhouse burger, which came with bacon, Wisconsin cheddar, onion straws and bbq sauce on a corn bun. The burger was actually two thin burgers on top of each other. It was juicy and tender, but was well done, rather than the medium which I ordered.

I also got a fries and rings combo - any three items for $7. I picked fresh made fries, sweet potato fries and onion rings. There were only 3 rings, but they were large. The coating was a little unusual, and I didn't care for it much, by itself, but it worked well with the "special" sauce, which turned out to be a combination of the house made ketchup, mustard, mayo and BBQ sauce. The two kinds of fries were cut thin, almost like shoestring potatoes.

I must comment on the rest rooms, the men's and women's rest rooms share one set of sinks, with four locking floor length, toilet stalls. The woman that entered the area while I was washing my hands was rather distressed to find a man in the rest room.

For Saturday supper we went to Sung Son, a Vietnamese Bistro in the Westport area of Kansas City, Missouri. Sung Son offers a buffet at both lunch and dinner. When we arrived at 7PM on Saturday evening, we were the only customers in the restaurant. There were about 5 other tables of customers by the time we left.

The staff was friendly and I liked the simple, attractive decor, but the food was pretty ordinary. Nothing stood out as a dish I would be anxious to have again. My favorite dish was the curried chicken, which was sweet and fairly spicy. It reminded me of the chicken curry at Bangkok Pavilion in Overland Park.

In addition to the buffet Sung Son has stations where you can get rice crepes, noodles and pho (pho). Although I have been they can be slow when Sung Son is busy, the made to order dishes cam promptly tonight.

I didn't care much for the beef in the pho tai (rice noodle soup with eye round steak), but thought the broth was good. The rice crepes are Vietnamese savory pancakes. I had the Bánh xèo "sizzling cake" with shrimp, pork, mung bean, and bean sprouts served with lettuce and fish sauce. It was fairly good, though I would have enjoyed it more without the sprouts), and made an attractive presentation.

 

Brgr Kitchen And Bar - Prairie Village, Kansas B.R.G.R. Kitchen And Bar
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sung Son - Kansas City, Missouri Sung Son
 
 
 
 

Bnh xo - rice crepe Bánh xèo

Thursday - March 25, 2010:  For lunch we went to Zarda BBQ in Lenexa which the Zarda brothers opened in 1979. Yes, this is my fourth lunch at a BBQ restaurant in 4 days.

I lived near this restaurant when I first moved to the Kansas City area. At that time I thought it was pretty good, but never went very often. As I came to know the barbeque places in KC better, I found many places that I enjoy more and came to Zarda less often, until it has been years since the last time.

Orders are places at a long counter where several cashiers wait in front of a board listing the menu. We ordered pork ribs, a half chicken, fried, beans and "cheezy corn." The ribs were OK, but seemed more like oven cooked than smoked. The chicken was better, very close in flavor and tenderness to the chicken at Oklahoma Joe's.

Zarda has had a lot of success with selling their side dishes through Kansas City area supermarkets, and the beans and corn were both good, but not great. The beans would have been better with some smoky taste. The thick cut French fries were underdone, but L told me that they are usually better.

Two friends joined me for supper at Barley's Brewhaus in Shawnee, Kansas. There are two Barley's locations. The first one opened in Overland Park in 1995 and this one opened the following year. 

Barley's Brewhaus brags that they have 99 beers on tap, but we tried only food, including Buffalo style chicken wings, mixed salad with pecan encrusted goat cheese, the "Big Barley" 1/2 lb burger on a homemade brioche bun, and Free Range Rosemary Chicken (oven roasted rosemary chicken, grilled asparagus, crispy Yukon potatoes, topped with rosemary jus). 

All of the food was good, with the best dishes being the salad and the chicken. The presentation of the chicken, piled high on the pate made quite a first impression.

 

Zarda BBQ - Lenexa, Kansas Zarda BBQ dining room
 
 
 
 
 

Barley's Brewhaus - Shawnee, Kansas Barley's Brewhaus
 

Free Range Rosemary Chicken - Barley's Brewhaus Free Range Rosemary Chicken

Wednesday - March 24, 2010:  Lunch was at Fat Katz BBQ in Gardner, Kansas, which opened 3 weeks ago in the space formerly occupied by Cheesesteak Grill. My first impression was that little has been done to the restaurant to give it personality. The interior is much as it was before.

The BBQ portion of the menu is fairly limited (ham, pulled pork, brisket, turkey, burnt ends, spicy sausage and ribs), but Fat Katz also serves burgers, a variety of other sandwiches, chicken wings and house chicken salad. My young server couldn't answer many of the questions I asked, but the owner (Dean) came by my table later in the meal and sat & chatted about his new restaurant. This is his first restaurant after having a construction company for 22 years.

He said that he wants to make sure that no one leaves his restaurant hungry, that too many places aren't filling the plates and that food isn't so expensive that he will not fill up the plates. BBQ sandwich prices range from $7.99 for a regular sandwich and one side, up to $9.99 for The Big One with three meats and no side dishes. The weekday lunch special is either a BBQ sandwich or classic burger with fries for $6.75.

I selected the Deluxe Platter (two ribs, choice of two meats and one side) for $10.99. The ribs were large and tasty with quite a bit of flavor from the smoking, and a hint of sweetness. The Italian style sausage was also good, with the predominant flavor coming from anise seed. The thin sliced brisket, was tender but didn't have much flavor.

After learning that the sides which are made in-house are the coleslaw, beans, potato salad and cheesy corn, I selected the corn. It was a very large serving of corn - about 3 times the size of the serving at McGuire's Smokehouse the day before.

All in all, Fat Katz has something special to offer and is a good addition to Gardner and the Kansas City BBQ scene.

For supper, we went to Hot Wok Chinese Restaurant in Overland Park. The last time that I dined at this location was about 25 years ago when I lived in the neighborhood. Other than the sign and name, the exterior looks much as it did in the 1980s. Except for the many buffet serving tables, the dinning room also looks much the same - a little dated, but more pleasant and warm than most of the mega buffets in the Kansas City area.

The buffet includes a number of interesting dishes that I don't often see on the Chinese buffets, such as grilled Calimari which had been cooked whole, then sliced into strips. There were many shrimp dishes, with my favorite being called cripy shrimp (which I assume is a typo for crispy).

 

Fat Katz BBQ - Gardner, Kansas Fat Katz BBQ

Dean
 
 

Deluxe Platter - Fat Katx BBQ Deluxe Platter
 
 
 
 

Hot Wok Chinese Restaurant - Overland Park, Kansas Hot Wok Chinese Restaurant

Tuesday - March 23, 2010:  Revisited and added a new review McGuire's Smokehouse in Olathe, Kansas. Finally had the smoked vegetables, which I liked a lot, but the meats today were all rather ordinary. L said she would be willing to go there again, but that she enjoyed McGuire's the least of any BBQ tried this year.

 

McGuire's Smokehouse - Olathe, Kansas
Monday - March 22, 2010:  Added a new review of Brown Park Waterfall near Abilene, Kansas.

 

 
Saturday - March 20, 2010:  Two of us had lunch at Tina Marie's restaurant in Shawnee to find out what the food was like from the regular menu. It was a snowy first day of Spring, and we were the only people dinning in the restaurant. Tina Marie's is at the very back of The Ridge Antique Mall and it would be easy for people visiting the mall to miss that it is even there. Other than the tables, there is little evidence that it is a restaurant and there is only a 1' sign at the front of the store.

The menu is rather small - 5 sandwiches, salad, Wisconsin cheese soup and 6 entrees. 

A BLT came with the choice of salad, soup or side for $6.25 It was OK, but nothing special. 

The baked teriyaki chicken breast was described as 2 4-ounce chicken breasts served over brown rice with a side of steamed broccoli and the choice of 2 sides for $9.50. It did not even come close! There were two thin slices of chicken breast - at best, half the amount of meat described. And there was no rice or broccoli. The salad was fairly good and the red cabbage was ordinary. I finished the meal disappointed and still hungry.

Tina Marie's is supposed to really stress their desserts, so it was surprising when the server brought the bill without asking if we were interested in dessert or if we wanted anything else. So we asked about the large selection of made from scratch desserts referred to on the menu.

We were told that there were four choices: blueberry pie, peach cobbler, brownie and devils food cake. We selected the cobbler, but when the server started to set it down, she apparently realized that it was still cold from the refrigerator and asked if we wanted it heated. We asked for it to be heated and if there was ice cream.

When we finally got the warm cobbler with ice cream, it was nothing special.

The only thing I can say, is that Tina Marie's is only 7 weeks old, it may get better. If it doesn't, I can't imagine it lasting very long.

Added the Brown Park and Saline River waterfalls to the Kansas Waterfalls page.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

chicken breast at Tina Marie's restaurant in Shawnee, Kansas chicken breast slices and red cabbage

Friday - March 19, 2010:  Several friends traveled to Bonner Springs, Kansas with me to try more of the items offered on the menu at Papa Bob's Bar-be-que. 

The BBQ pork ribs had a good flavor, but were still a little tough and stringy. The burnt ends were cut into small bits that had excellent flavor from the hickory smoking, There were well done and tender. The fried catfish fillets were a nice size, The crinkle cut french fries were ordinary frozen fries. 

The menu said that the onion rings were "not home made...but they look and taste like they are." They were better than the fries, but no one would mistake them for home made. My favorite of all the side dishes was the  Nathan's Gourmet Sweet Horseradish Pickles.

The sausage was still the best meat tried, both the the sausage that Papa Bob's started with, and the flavor from smoking.

 

catfish fillets at Papa Bob's Bar-be-que in Bonner Springs catfish fillets at Papa Bob's Bar-be-que
Thursday - March 17, 2010:  This evening, I made a presentation to the Monticello Chapter Sons of the American Revolution. They met in a private dinning room at the new Tina Marie's restaurant which opened in The Ridge Antique Mall in Shawnee in February. It is operated by Tina Myers, who worked at the recently closed Yarbrough's Restaurant, and brings many of Yarbrough's dishes to the new restaurant.

The best part of the meal was the mixed green salad, the spaghetti was rather bland and the bread pudding didn't have very much flavor.

My presentation was on the history of the Straits of Mackinac, Mackinaw City,
St. Ignace and Mackinac Island in northern Michigan. I grew up in Mackinaw City and spent 5 summers at Fort Michilimackinac, working in the blacksmith shop, demonstrating the muskets & cannons, and giving tours.

I had fun preparing for the presentation. It brought back good memories and gave me an opportunity to learn of new discoveries in the 35 years since I worked for the Mackinac Island State Park Commission. For example, La Salle's Griffon, a sailing vessel which disappeared in 1679, may have been found near Washington Island in Lake Michigan.

I may organize my notes into an essay to post on www.mightymac.org.

 

Tina Marie's restaurant - Shawnee, Kansas Tina Marie's main dining room
Wednesday - March 16, 2010: Two friends joined me to try the new Nica's Cafe, which opened in Overland Park at the first of the year. Chef Bryan Merker's concept is combine a coffee chop and bistro with a fusion of French, Italian and Asian cooking, while showcasing a rotating art collection by local artists.

Although selling many pastries and serving breakfast all day, the dinner menu is a selection of salads, sandwiches, noodles, crepes and pizzas in a variety of flavor combinations. We had a Four Cheese (mozzarella, romano, smoked provolone, parmesan) crepe, Margarita (roasted garlic, basil, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts) pizza, Italian (shaved pepperoni, seasoned beef, spicy sausage) pizza, and Spicy Cajun (shrimp, andouille, chicken breast, candied jalapenos, tapenade) salad.

In spite of its including olives which weren't listed on the menu, I enjoyed the cajun salad a great deal. The 10" bruschetta pizzas were also very good, particularly the margarita flavor.

We were all full, but felt we must try a pastry. We settled on just one cinnamon apple beignet, but the chef didn't think it was big enough for three people to split and made us two fresh, hot, powder sugar covered beignets. They were a big hit with all three of us.

 

Nica's Cafe - Overland Park, Kansas Nica's Cafe
Tuesday - March 15, 2010: Our lunch was at Sam's Tastee Treat in Olathe. We each had the daily special, pork tenderloin sandwich with french fries and a large drink for $5.49. We also split an order of three crab Rangoon for $1.70. Sam's Tastee Treat is quite a bargain! The sandwiches were pretty good, but the fries were just frozen crinkle cut. The crab rangoon had a lot of sweet filling and were not overdone.

For supper, we went to Happy Bonzai Restaurant in Shawnee, Kansas. The sushi and Japanese steakhouse has been open for about one year.

Arriving around 6 PM, there was one hibachi table with two parties already started with their salads. We were seated with them - a young couple and a woman with a one year old child.

The prices were several dollars cheaper than I am used to seeing at Japanese steakhouses in the Kansas City area. My Calimari was $13.95. L's steak and chicken would have been $17.95, but the daily special was teriyaki steak for $12.95 and they gave us the same $3 off the steak and chicken special. Quite reasonable!

The meals came with the usual: steamed rice, hibachi vegetables, soup and two small shrimp as an appetizer. They charge $2 extra for fried rice, but but is chicken fried rice and didn't seem like the rip off that fried rice is at many steakhouses.

The servings were a little smaller than I am used to getting at Japanese steakhouses, but still more than we ate and L took part of her meal home in a box. The food was pretty average - worth getting if you are in the neighborhood, but not worth a special trip. Our chef was friendly but somewhat inexperienced. When I asked, he said that he had been doing the hibachi table cooking for about 6 months.

 

Sam's Tastee Treat - Olathe, Kansas Sam's Tastee Treat
 
 

Happy Bonzai Restaurant - Shawnee, Kansas Happy Bonzai Restaurant

Monday - March 15, 2010: Today's lunch was a second visit to the new McGuire's Smokehouse BBQ in Olathe, Kansas. It continues to be a mixed bag, probably hasn't yet shaken out all of the bugs. I had the burnt end 'n rib palter - 1/2 pound of beef burnt ends, paired with 4 ribs and two sides for $13.95. It was a lot of food, particularly the serving of burnt ends, but the only thing that was really good today was the seasoned French fries.

They were out of the corn which I enjoyed so much on my first visit, so I tried the baked beans. They looked great - two kinds of beans with large chunks of meat. But other than the meat, I didn't care much for the flavor. I think they would be much better if they were baked longer and the meat was cut it to smaller pieces, allowing the beans to acquire more flavor.

This time the pork ribs were tough and a bit dry. I was there early for lunch and wonder if they were left over from a previous day.

 

McGuire's Smokehouse - Olathe, Kansas McGuire's Smokehouse
Saturday - March 13, 2010: We had lunch at the Red Bench Cafe a breakfast and lunch spot that is the second operation to go into the former Mildred's, Coffee Shop location in downtown Overland Park.

I had the $7.99 combo of a salad and half sandwich. I chose the roasted eggplant sandwich (roasted eggplant & red pepper, feta cheese, oil, vinegar, and sun dried tomato pesto on grilled sourdough) and the walnut & cranberry salad (mixed greens with roasted walnuts, cranberries, red onions, tomatoes, feta, and vinaigrette dressing). Both were good, with the sandwich being the best. 

L had the turkey havarti sandwich (roasted turkey, havarti cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo served on multi grain bread). It included the choice of fresh fruit or potato chips for $7.89. She described it as "just a turkey sandwich."

 

Red Bench Cafe - Overland Park, Kansas Red Bench Cafe
Friday - March 12, 2010: Although I used to enjoy going to Culver's Frozen Custard and Butterburger Restaurants when visiting Wisconsin, I have been unimpressed with the food at the Culver's in Kansas. But after seeing commercials that Culver's is currently serving walleye, I went to the Olathe location for lunch today.

The North woods Walleye dinner came with two or three pieces of fish and the choice of two sides. I ordered and paid at the counter and was given a number so the fresh food would be brought to my table. While waiting, I fired up my notebook computer and discovered that they had free wifi.

My food came reasonably fast. The French fries were limit and very disappointing, but the seasoned green beans were a real treat. For diet reasons, I have been eating a lot more green beans lately, and these beans flavored with rendered bacon flavored fat, onions and pepper were some of the best.

The deep fried walleye was quite good. The third piece was a bit fishy and may not have been quite as fresh as the other two, but I may be going to Culver's again if this promotion lasts long enough.

 

Walleye dinner at Culver's restaurant Walleye dinner
Thursday - March 11, 2010: We had lunch and watched the last half of the KU - Texas Tech basketball game at the Double Nickel Diner in Olathe. There have been a lot of changes at Double Nickel since my last visit. The couple that started the Diner and were operating the kitchen have bought the bar & grill. They refurbished and combined the two operations.

The menu and prices are mostly unchanged, but they have added some smoked meats. I tried the baby back ribs, which were flavorful, meaty and tender. The chili, which I liked last year, was almost all beans.

The owner told me that the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is visiting the Double Nickel this fall.

I returned to Llywelyn's Pub in Overland Park for supper. There were no empty parking spots in the lot and at 7PM, the bar and grill was nearly packed. 

I had  Llywelyn's Broil (grilled marinated flank steak grilled served on grilled bread) and the house made potato chips for $10.59. The steak was perfectly cooked and had good flavor, but after two visits, my favorite items is the thin delicate chips.

 

Double Nickel Diner - Olathe, Kansas Double Nickel Bar & Grill
Wednesday - March 10, 2010: I visited two new restaurants today. Lunch was at McGuire's Smokehouse which  opened a month ago in the former Big Bubba's Bar-B-Q space in Olathe. They have counter service at lunch time and table service as supper.

The meal quality was mixed. I filled small cups with both the regular and spicy BBQ sauces, but when I got to my table, could not remember which was which. After tasting them, I still couldn't tell any difference between them. The sauce was very sweet, with know taste beyond (I think) brown sugar.

The sausage had little flavor from smoking, but was otherwise fairly good. The brisket had zero flavor from smoking and was fairly dry. The BBQ pork rib I tried was VERY good - meaty, tender and with a wonderful flavor from a brown sugar rub.

After learning that they use frozen French fries and onion rings, I ordered corn and coleslaw for the sides. Both servings were generous. The slaw was sweet and slightly above average. While not on the cob, the corn was very good, and tasted as if it had been roasted.

Supper was at Sobahn, the newest Korean Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas. This is the third Korean restaurant I have visited at the same Shawnee Mission Parkway location. Other than removing the buffet tables, dinning room looks much like it did when this was Four Seasons Asian Restaurant. The wood tables and chairs are very heavy.

The menu was long and varied. I selected one of my favorite Korean dishes, O Jing Uh Bokkeum (squid sautéed with vegetable in a hot & spicy sauce). At first taste, I didn't think it was very hot, but there was some underlying heat in the dish. I would have liked a little more interesting mix of vegetables, but it was good enough to have again. The meal came with steamed rice, kimchi, spicy cucumber, steamed broccoli, tofu, sweet black beans and leafy vegetable which the server said was called "green," for $12.99

Service was slow, but not terribly slow. Everything seemed to take a little more time than it should. For example, drink refills meant that my glass was taken by the server, who would disappear into the back for a few minutes before returning with a full glass.

Although Sobahn wouldn't be my first recommendation for experienced Korean diners, it is worth visiting. The menu is accessible and the servers communicate well. Sobahn would be a good place for someone trying Korean food for the first time.

Added a new 2010 update to Grandpa's Old Ford garage.

 

McGuire's Smokehouse - Olathe, Kansas McGuire's Smokehouse
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sobahn - Overland Park, Kansas Sobahn

 
Tuesday - March 9, 2010: Lunch was the three year old Overland Park location of Llywelyn's Pub. The building was once a Methodist Church, but the interior has been turned into an Irish Pub with only the windows betraying its origin.

Learning that Llywelyn's makes their own onion rings, French fries and potato chips, I started with the rings. A large basket of the onion rings with spicy ranch sauce was $6.99. But  for me, the rings were too much about the flavor of the batter and not enough about the onion.

I was much more pleased with the sausage sandwich and Welsh potato chips for $7.99.  The grilled lamb sausage was served in a toasted soft pretzel bun, topped with sautéed peppers & onions and came with Irish Whiskey mustard dipping sauce. The sausage had a very strong flavor and wouldn't be for everyone, but I enjoyed it a lot.

I revisited D' Bronx Deli & Pizzeria in Overland Park, Kansas. The side Caesar Salad ($2.75) was large, but nothing special. But the $6.95 classic grilled Reuben sandwich with house made corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and their own Russian dressing on New York style rye bread was very good. One of the best sandwiches that I have had in Overland Park.

Updated and expanded the review of the Anchor Inn in Hutchinson, Kansas.

 

Llywelyn's Pub - Overland Park, Kansas Llywelyn's Pub
 
 
 
 
 

Reuben sandwich at D' Bronx Deli D' Bronx Reuben sandwich

Monday - March 8, 2010: We had lunch at the Salty Iguana Mexican Restaurant in Olathe, Kansas - the newest location of the small restaurant chain. The restaurant is fairly large, with three dinning rooms. As soon as we were seated, we brought salsa and warm chips. Although the salsa wasn't very spicy, I liked the flavor.

My shrimp taco and chicken fajitas were both OK, but not very authentic or exciting. I would have liked the meat and vegetables in the fajitas to have been cooked longer and the flavors to have mixed.

Added a new review of the Kansas Oil Museum and Butler County History Center in El Dorado, Kansas, which was visited last June.
 

 

Salty Iguana Mexican Restaurant - Olathe, Kansas Salty Iguana

Kansas Oil Museum - El Dorado, Kansas Kansas Oil Museum

Sunday - March 7, 2010: After a leisurely start toward home, we stopped for lunch at the Hickory Tree Restaurant in Smolan, Kansas. It is a unique BBQ restaurant filling an old, renovated high school. The gymnasium is the main dinning room and classrooms have been turned into private dining rooms decorated to the theme of what was taught in them. The interior is quite interesting and the displays rival some museums.

Hickory Tree Restaurant has a buffet and customers get their own food and beverages, and bus the tables when they are through. The meats served today were pork chops, ribs, chicken and beef brisket. The chicken was the favorite for both of us.

The final stop on the road home was in Abilene, where a reader of this web site had just told me there was a waterfall that is not well known.

We found a very attractive waterfall at the site of a ruined mill in Brown's Park a couple of miles south of town. There were no signs for the waterfall, which I think deserves to receive more attention. I plan to return later in the year when things are green.

 

Hickory Tree Restaurant - Smolan, Kansas Hickory Tree Restaurant
 
 

Brown Park waterfall - Abilene, Kansas waterfall in Brown's Park

Saturday - March 6, 2010: We began the day with breakfast at a Hutchinson restaurant which had been recommended by several former residents of town - Skaet's Steak Shop. Skaet's is a dinner on the edge of the State Fair Grounds that opened in 1949. We snagged the last empty table and there were people waiting for tables until after we left.

Skaet's serves reasonably priced, good solid meals. I had bacon, eggs, hash brown potatoes and toast for $4.89. The bacon and eggs were very good. L was happy with a half order of French toast and half order of biscuits and gravy. The French toast was thinner sliced than many and was the better of the two.

Following breakfast, we visited the Kansas Kids Museum at the Hutchinson Mall. The museum is located right off of the food court, but it is more of a children's playground than museum. It appears to be a very good place for birthday parties for small children.

The largest room "Pebbleville" is described as an old fashioned main street and exhibit areas representing a lumber yard, a general store, fire and police stations, a home, and a health center, but that made me expect much more than the series of collections of toys that I found. The main museum aspect of the Kansas Kids Museum is a rock and mineral collection from a late Mr. Westfall, but it isn't exhibited in a particularly interesting or educational way.

We drove on down to Yoder to photograph the small business district and revisit Yoder Meats, which is already featured on the Kansas Specialty Foods page. Yoder Meats has a small Kansas gift shop and a much larger meat market with many products that are produced in their manufacturing facility next door. After sampling several items, I choose their smoked cheddar sausage, liver sausage and mozzarella sausage. The smoked cheddar is one of the best sausages I have had ever.

L purchased a number of baked goods. Some are produced by Yoder Meats, others by local families. When a friend had one of the peanut butter star cookies later in the the day, she said "Oh my god, its awesome!"

Heading back to Hutchinson, we stopped at the free, Hutchinson Zoo. The 9 acre zoo has 160 (mostly native) animals and takes about 45 minutes to thoroughly see without the Prairie Thunder Railroad ride. The train operates on weekends and when school is not in session.

Our favorite exhibits in the zoo were the raccoons and river otters. The raccoons were very aware and interested in the people looking at them. The otters were continuously active with one doing somersaults in the water, while the other would come across the pool and flip on its back to float away.

With 4 restaurants planned for the day, we had a light lunch at R-B Drive In. The homemade onion rings ($4) & pork tenderloin $3.75) were very good. The corn dog $1.1) was just a corn dog.

Back at the Grand Prairie Hotel, we joined friends to watch the University of Kansas trounce the University of Missouri in the final basketball game of the regular season. Rock Chalk!

Then we head out for our second light lunch at another small restaurant which had been heavily recommended - Oliver's Carry Out. Oliver's is a small restaurant with a fishing shop next door the sign proudly proclaims "Burgers and Bait." We had the smallest cheeseburger ($1.30), a chili dog ($1.79), mozzarella sticks ($2.50) and a single BBQ pork rib ($1.50).

The ribs are only smoked on Fridays and Saturdays and were by far the best item we tried. I thought the rib was so good, that I called a friend back at the hotel to tell him about them and he drove over to get the last half slab remaining ($9.99) He is a connoisseur of Kansas City BBQ and pronounced them very good!

The chili sauce was watery and I think it had too many beans for a coney sauce, but I was impressed with the dog which had a good smoky flavor.

With so much good food, we decided it was time for some exercise, so we took advantage of the warm sunny day to play a couple of sets at a pair of tennis courts at Elmdale Park. The courts are not in very good condition, but we are still enjoying nice weather after Kansas' tougher than normal winter.

In the evening we went out with another large group to have supper at the Anchor Inn, a large family run Mexican restaurant that has been a Hutchinson favorite for many years. They offer a large menu, but everyone went the buffet which fills half of one of the dinning rooms. The price had gone up since last year, but at $7.50 for a complete meal (even including iced tea) at lunch or supper, it is a real bargain.

And the food is very good, particular the enchiladas, home made tamales, and various meat dishes. I even had to buy sauce to take back to someone who I work with in Olathe.

I discovered that there is another Anchor Inn location in Salina. I hope to try that location later this year.

 

Skaet's Steak Shop - hutchinson, Kansas Skaet's Steak Shop
 
 

Kansas Kids Museum - Hutchinson, Kansas Kansas Kids Museum
 
 
 

Yoder Meats - Yoder, Kansas Yoder Meats
 
 

Hutchinson Zoo - Hutchinson, Kansas Hutchinson Zoo
 

R-B Drive In - Hutchinson, Kansas R-B Drive In
 

Oliver's Carry Out - Hutchinson, Kansas Oliver's Carry Out 
 
 
 
 
 

Elmdale Park tennis courts - Hutchinson, Kansas
Elmdale Park tennis courts

Anchor Inn buffet - Hutchinson, Kansas Anchor Inn

Friday - March 5, 2010: Leaving work a couple of hours early, L and I drove to Hutchinson, Kansas where the Dawn Patrol was having its annual gathering (BYOCon) at the Grand Prairie Hotel and Convention Center. The Dawn Patrol is a loose organization of over 300 science fiction, space and aviation enthusiasts from throughout the United States and Canada.

That evening, 20 of us drove on down to Yoder, to have supper at the Carriage Crossing restaurant and bakery. The Mennonite restaurant usually does a good job with groups, but this was an off night - particularly for me. Drinks, ordering and getting the food took a very long time. Even though we arrived before 7:30, we ended up being the very last party in the restaurant which closes at 9 PM. 

When the food finally arrived, there was none for me. My meal was totally missing. I had get our waitress's attention and wait for the food to be cooked. When my smoked sausage with green beans and fried sweet potato wedges finally arrived, it turned out that the yams were covered with (not mentioned on the menu) sugar syrup. Not a very good option for a diabetic:-( And with everyone else nearly through eating and the restaurant being so slow, I wasn't going to try to get Carriage Crossing to replace the yams with something else.

Maybe it was attitude at this point, but I didn't care much for the rest of my meal, either. At least it was a bargain at $7.99.

 


 
 
 
 

Carriage Crossing restaurant - Yoder, Kansas Placing our order at the Carriage Crossing restaurant

Thursday - March 4, 2010: Several friends joined me for supper at El Pulgarcito Restaurant in Merriam, Kansas. It was my first time back to the Salvadoran restaurant since shortly after I learned about it last summer. Spring and fall are good times to dine at, El Pulgarcito, since the dining room can be uncomfortable when the weather is extremely hot or cold.

We tried pupusas, steak and a couple of chicken dishes. My Bistec (seasoned steak) reminded me very much of Swiss steak. It had excellent flavor, and the serving was enormous.

The pupusas (stuffed corn flour flat bread stuffed) are still my favorite dish - particularly the pulled pork, which tastes like BBQ. They come with a large jar of curtido (Central American kimchi) to eat on top of it or on the side. An single pupusa is $1.95 and 3 or 4 with the curtido make a good meal.

 

Bistec at El Pulgarcito Restaurant in Merriam Bistec
Wednesday - March 3, 2010: L and I tried Tanner's Bar and Grill in Lenexa, Kansas for lunch today. The local bar and grill chain is a popular place to watch game or party, but I wasn't impressed with the food or service that we had today. My Buffalo chicken wings were meaty, but really about the same that I can prepare from frozen. The chili, not much better.

L's bacon cheese burger was dry and fairly hard. Her French fries were just another frozen product.

 

Tanner's Bar and Grill - Lenexa, Kansas
Tanner's Bar and Grill
Tuesday - March 2, 2010: Today's lunch was at Olathe's only Japanese restaurant, Haru's Steak Sushi Place. It had been a year since my last meal there and today I tried the teppanyaki style meal which is cooked at the hibachi tables. Everyone else in the busy restaurant was dining on sushi. I was the only person dining on the side with 3 pairs of hibachi tables. 

There are 8 specials served before 2:30 PM, ranging in price from $7.50 for vegetables to $15.95 for steak and scallops.

I had the steak and shrimp (5 ounces of each) with steamed rice, vegetables, soup and salad for $14.95. Haru's is one of those restaurants that charges another couple of dollars if you want fried rice. The steak was cooked a little more than the medium rare that I ordered, but was tender and juicy. It was flavored with a LOT of garlic, which I love, but might not appeal to all. The shrimp and vegetables were not over cooked and were firm and tasty.

The chef doesn't do a "performance" at lunch time and the meal was fairly quick. I was able to get in and out of the restaurant in less than 40 minutes.

In the evening, I drove to DeSoto, Kansas where Dean Weller met me at Grandpa's Garage & Body Shop. I stumbled across this collection of restored antique automobiles in 2007, and in the past 6 month, the web pages devoted to Dean and his collection have become the most visited on this web site. It was a chance to see the finished Model T that Dean was working on during my previous visit and view the Ford Model T Speedster that he has just started building.

I was delighted to learn that Dean is still going strong at age 84.

For supper, I drove up to Bonner Springs to try a 3 year old restaurant - Papa Bob's Bar-be-que which is located a mile and a half east of town and has a Kansas City, Kansas address..

Though there was no one smoking at the time, the main room still smelled a lot like cigarette smoke and I continued on to the non-smoking dining room at the far side. I had the Deluxe Meat Platter (2 ribs & 2 sliced meats, plus the choice of 2 sides) for $13.95. I selected sausage and pulled pork for the meats and the only two sides made in house, coleslaw and baked beans.

The ribs were tough, but had a good hickory smoky flavor. The pork was a little bland, but the sausage was quite good and worked well. The slaw had little sauce and tasted like sweet cabbage. The beans were smoky and even sweeter - still quite good despite no noticeable meat. The were served quite warm in a mug.

I also had an order of Taner's Terriifical smoked wings to go. The 10 small, dark wing thirds were fairly tough when i ate them later in the evening, but had a nice hickory flavor. There really wasn't very much meat for $6.75 and they neglected to include a dipping sauce.

Service was mixed, but quite friendly. When Papa Bob's wife learned that it was my first visit, she went over the menu with me carefully. She even went an brought me a sample of the horseradish pickle chips - a very sweet, mildly horseradish flavored bread and butter pickle that is actually Nathan's Gourmet Sweet Horseradish Pickles.

My server didn't realize that I had been seated in the non-smoking room and took a long time to find me at first. But when she realized her error, she was genuinely apologetic and even offered to buy a dessert.

 

Haru's Steak Sushi Place - Olathe, Kansas Haru's Steak Sushi Place
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Grandpa's Old Ford Garage - DeSoto, Kansas Grandpa's Old Ford Garage
 

Papa Bob's Bar-be-que - Kansas City, Kansas Papa Bob's Bar-be-que

Monday - March 1, 2010: Returned to Chosun Korean Barbeque in Overland Park, Kansas to try their smaller lunch special. I settled on the $7.95 Galbi lunch box (beef short ribs with steamed rice, house salad, sprout, spicy cabbage kimchi, pot sticker and tofu with fish sauce). Really a nice meal for the price.

The Galbi lunch box had a nice sized serving of the sweet, tasty short ribs.

For supper, friends joined me in trying the new Hayward's Pit Bar-B-Que on Santa Fe in Overland Park. This location is counter service only and some prices were running about a dollar less than the main Hayward's at Antioch and College Boulevard. The meat tasted the same, but all of the meat we tried (ribs, sausage, brisket, turkey and burnt ends) was luke warm at best. 

It appears that they are just smoking the meats at the main location and bringing it to this location to sell.

 

Galbi lunch box at Chosun Korean Barbeque Galbi lunch box

Hayward's Pit Bar-B-Que - Overland Park, Kansas Hayward's Pit Bar-B-Que 

 
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