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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Stafford, Kansas Snowdrift
Tuesday - April 2, 2013: Linda drove to Olathe to join me in trying the brand new Sweet T's Soul Food Buffet. Despite the name, it isn't a buffet. You go to the counter where the food is being kept warm and they serve it up. The least expensive meal is $9.95, with one meat, one side and one solid.

They have just three meats: chicken, catfish & brisket. The side are greens, corn sweet tater yams, and green beans. The solids are beans & rice, Macaroni & cheese, or masked potatoes & gravy. The chicken and catfish are both pretty good. I was less impressed with the sides, though the mashed potatoes and beans & rice were both pretty good.

After we had ordered and paid for our food, we learned that cinnamon rolls and corn bread were also available, but they were not offered or listed on the menu. 

 

Sweet T's Soul Food Buffet - Olathe, Kansas Serving counter at Sweet T's Soul Food Buffet
Friday - April 12, 2013: This evening I drove to Hutchinson. After checking in to the Fairfield Inn (nice hotel, but Internet so bad that I wouldn't go back), I drove to the State Fairgrounds to the Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale. I had been wanting to visit this for the web site, since I learned about it a couple of years back.

The Kansas Mennonite Relief Sale is the largest church bazaar that I have ever seen. It is put on by 70 Mennonite, Brethren in Christ, and Amish congregations and fills 7 large buildings. There are multiple silent and live auctions with items as diverse as candy, old tractors, hand crafted furniture and an all original 1942 Studebaker Coupe. One auction was devoted to over 200 hand made quilts. There is food available in every building, but the biggest feed at the Feeding of the Multitude, serving cafeteria style German food to 7 - 10,000 people.

I limited myself to sampling raisin pie, donut hole like "New Year's cookies" and cherry moos made with cherries, flour, sugar & cream. Good, but not great. They are having to mass produce these items.

Supper was fairly late. It was a revisit of the Airport Steakhouse, which I hadn't been to in about 10 years. As the name implies, the restaurant is in the Hutchinson Municipal Airport, filling more than half of the terminal. The steakhouse is dated, but still in good shape. One wall is lined which huge picture windows looking out at the tarmac. The 26 ounce bone in Cowboy ribeye, could have stood some aging, but was cooked the way I ordered (medium rare) and very reasonable at $24.99 with salad and starch. The skin on fresh cut fries were under done. 

 


 
 

Feeding the Multitude - Mennonite Relief Sale The line for Feeding the Multitude
 
 

Airport Steakhouse - Hutchinson Municipal Airport Airport Steakhouse

Saturday - April 13, 2013: This morning I stopped to buy a styrofoam chest and returned to the fairgrounds for more photos. My breakfast was verenika & sausage. The sausage was nothing special, but the Ukrainian verenika (cottage cheese filled pasta dumpling served with rich ham gravy) was very good. It was the best dish which I tried at the Relief Sale. New page devoted the Menonite Relief Sale.

For lunch I dined sparingly at two restaurant which I have already reviewed. Roy's Hickory Pit BBQ and Sacks 5th Avenue. Sacks is a decent burger joint in a neat old building, but Roy's is a real standout, a 25 year BBQ place with great meats. It is only open from 11AM - 3PM, or until the meat runs out.

Before leaving town, I stopped by the Hutchinson Art Association gallery. The last time I had been in Hutchinson, the gallery was closed when it was scheduled to be open, but this time I lucked out and it was open when it was scheduled to be closed. The most interesting part of the gallery was the quarter of the building devoted to art for sale.

After a quick revisit of the small display at the Salt Discovery Well on the south side of town, I drove out to Yoder to fill the styrofoam chest at Yoder Meats. They offer samples of so many items, that you could have a small meal. I kept telling myself that I wouldn't try anymore, but then would discover elk sausage or an unusual cheese.

From Yoder, I drove west and north, stopping to take photos at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and in several small towns. In Stafford, I was surprised to find a snowdrift remaining in the shadow of a building.

In Larned, I toured the Central State Scout Museum, which wasn't much more interesting than I thought it would be. The nice man who runs the museum is also on the board of directors of the restored 1940s State Theatre. He took me there, and I found that building much more interesting. The community can be proud of bringing it back to life.

Supper was at Mom's Bar & Grill in Seward. It had been 5 years since my last visit. Seward has about 4 streets an all of them are dirt. The restaurant isn't much to look at, in a sheet metal building with a poured cement floor, but the food is so good. The chicken fried steak sandwich was one of the best sandwiches that I have ever had.

After checking in to the Best Western in Great Bend, I drove out Cheyenne Bottoms, the largest inland marsh in the United States. Unfortunately, in the second year of a drought, it is all dry land.

 

verenika and sausage - Mennonite Relief Sale verenika & sausage

Sacks 5th Avenue - Hutchinson, Kansas Sacks 5th Avenue

- Stafford, Kansas Snowdrift

State Theatre - Larned, Kansas State Theatre

chicken fried steak sandwich - Mom's Bar and Grill chicken fried steak sandwich

Sunday - April 14, 2013: This morning, I was up at 5:15AM and drove out to the Kansas Wetlands Education Center to meet a guide and 5 other people for the Greater Prairie Chicken Lek Tour. By 6:15, we were in place in a blind where we spent the next three hours watching male prairie chickens dance and drum. There were only two males and no females, but it was still interesting. It helped that we saw other species such as harrier and upland sandpiper. My good camera is in the shop. The old camera that I was using, wasn't really up to doing a good job at this distance. It only has about a third of the zoom and a third of the pixels. Four more weeks waiting on the other camera.

Other than taking a few stock photos in Ellinwood, the only stop on the drive home was at Ad Astra in Strong City. Open only Friday through Sunday, they serve innovative dishes with food from local providers.

I started the meal with Elk Union, a pita pizza topped with fig jam, goat cheese, caramelized onion and a drizzle of garlic oil and fried shallots. It was pretty good, but I would like it better with more garlic and no jam. I finished with the Smoked Trout Plate, house smoked rainbow trout, herb goat cheese, capers, red onion and hard boiled egg served with grilled crostini.

Not necessarily the food you would expect to find in a small, rural community. 

 

greater prairie chicken - Wetlands Education Center
greater prairie chickens (Tympanuchus cupido)
 
 

Smoked Trout Plate - Ad Astra in Strong City, Kansas Smoked Trout Plate

Monday - April 15, 2013: I revisited two Olathe restaurants today, to update their online reviews.

Lunch was at The Other Place. The sports bar & grill is part of a small, Iowa based chain. I had chili and hot chicken wings. Both were good, though not outstanding. The food at The Other Place is consistent and the service is very good.

Linda joined me for supper at Oklahoma Joe's BBQ. There are now three locations for this Kansas City, Kansas based chain. All of them are in Kansas. We had pork ribs, smoked chicken and onion rings. All three were very good and the servings were generous. I had left over ribs to eat the next day.

 

The Other Place - Olathe, Kansas The Other Place

Oklahoma Joe's BBQ - Olathe, Kansas Oklahoma Joe's BBQ

Thursday - April 18, 2013: I paid a second visit to Sweet T's Soul Food Buffet in Olathe. It was a chance to try the third meat - beef brisket. It did not impress me as much as the catfish or chicken had. There were two other meats being offered today, pork chops and hot wings.

The restaurant is still experiencing growing pains. I expect it to get better in a few months.

 

Sweet T's Soul Food Buffet - Olathe, Kansas Sweet T's Soul Food Buffet
Friday - April 19, 2013: I returned to Wai-Wai Thai Place Express in Overland Park for a second meal for updating its review. This was the best meal that I have had there so far,  the "Seafood Lovers" with the choice of salmon, catfish, mussels or shrimp with the choice of three sauces, served with steamed rice, choice of soup or house salad and two small crab Rangoon for $11.95. I went with the salad which was dressed with a delicious sweet mustard sauce. The mussels turned out to be a perfect match for the Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.

For supper, Linda and I made a first visit to Ricky's Pit Barbeque in the Quindaro neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas. This is the third and smallest location the Mom & Pop restaurant has occupied, with just 5 booths and a counter. Mr. & Mrs. Smith were both working and a delight to get to know. We sampled many of the meats along with beans and chili. Sweet was the theme, with the sauce, beans and chili all being fairly sweet.

The fries were just frozen crinkle cut, but were at least perfectly cooked. The chili was well spiced, but not that hot and meaty with few beans. The chili and fries go well together.

It appears that the meat was cooked early and just heated for serving. This worked very well with the ham and brisket, a little less well with the sausage & burnt ends, and not so well with the ribs.

Wai-Wai Thai Place Express in Overland Park, Kansas Seafood Lovers Mussels
 
 

Ricky's Pit Barbeque - Kansas City, Kansas Ricky's Pit Barbeque

 
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