changes to KansasTravel.org and Keith's exploration
& photographing Kansas restaurants, attractions, museums, festivals
and art. Contact him.
- January 2, 2016: Linda and I went to Lawrence, Kansas on Saturday
afternoon for the opening game of the Big 12 basketball season, between
KU & Baylor. Although Baylor was nationally ranked, KU got off to a
24-4 lead and it was never closer than 12 points for the rest of the game.
KU won 102-74.
had lunch before the game at a new restaurant in Lawrence, Hank Charcuterie.
The menu is a little too limited and the prices were a little too high,
but we really enjoyed the sausage we took home from there, garlic pale
ale and garlic herb lamb. Both were good, particularly the lamb. We also
have some chicken pate that I haven't tried yet.
Charcuterie isn't going to make our unique Kansas Restaurants list, but
will make the list of specialty foods.
- January 15, 2016: We squeezed a Kansas Exploration trip into the
first part of the weekend.
trip was primarily to visit restaurants. We have reached the point where
we have visited most of the significant Kansas attractions and it is harder
to find new things to do between going to restaurants. Not only are there
many times more restaurants than museums, but I need to revisit the ones
which I have reviewed. A 4 year old restaurant review isn't very useful.
picked me up from work on Friday afternoon and we headed down I-35 and
on to Strong City to revisit Ad Astra. We last visited the Strong City
restaurant with extended family in May, but it closed down in August, reopening
with some of the same partners in November.
menu has been reprinted since we were there in May, but all of the dishes
were pretty much the same. We couldn't spot any changes in the service,
decor or food, which is a good thing, we liked this restaurant. Linda had
a grilled salmon special, while I had the Prairie Burner Burger. The burger
was a little too rare, but the side of chili ginger sprouts many have been
the best Brussels sprouts I have ever had. We split a cream brulee which
was also very good, putting to shame the cream brulee we had at a much
more expensive Leawood restaurant last night.
diner we drove a mile south to Cottonwood Falls for Emma Chase Friday Night
Music. The Emma Chase Cafe closed over a year ago, but the music lives
on. Local musicians come together every Friday night to share their music.
Each Friday of the month is a different style and this night it was folk,
country and bluegrass.
nice weather, the jam session is held in the Main Street a half block from
the gorgeous county courthouse, but in other weather it is held at Prairie
PastTimes, a large Flint Hills Arts & Crafts Store selling work from
many area artists. It was fun looking though the crafts for sale, while
listening to the music. We particularly liked the wooded jewelry and boxes
created by Spiritwood Jewelry. This night there were about 10 musicians
and another 10 in the audience as others came to look at the art.
finished the night about 35 miles farther west at Country Haven Inn in
Hillsboro. I sprung for a King suite and it was very comfortable, though
they could provide better toiletries and towels.
Prairie Burner Burger & Brussels sprouts at Ad Astra
Emma Chase Friday Night Music at Prairie PastTimes
- January 16, 2016: Saturday morning we stopped to eat at the Breadbasket
in Newton. I have been there before for the weekend lunch and supper buffets,
but this was the first time having breakfast at the Mennonite bakery and
restaurant. The food was good, though the only dish which stood out as
special was the French toast.
was about 30 more miles to Wichita. The management of the Museum
of World Treasures had contacted me in the fall about the changes they
have made since the last time we had visited and it was time to get new
photos. We were met and shown around by Crystal Neihoff and her young son.
museum fills the large, three story Farm & Art Market building in Old
Town. It began as a private collection and contains a huge variety of items
ranging from a T-Rex skeleton, to three thousand year old mummies to movie
memorabilia such as a pitch fork used in the Wizard of Oz.
drove about 30 miles farther west to Cheney, Kansas to try out a restaurant
which had been suggested for its great hamburgers, Benny's Burgers and
Shakes. At first glance it was fast food, but the food was not cooked in
advance. The burgers were very good, particularly the buns which had been
warmed on the griddle and had just the right amount of crisp edge. My favorite
item was the chili fries, which were among the best that I have had.
rest of the day was spent retracing the 235 miles we had driven up to then.
We returned to Wichita, to Public at the Brickyard, which is literally
next door to the Museum of World Treasures. The KU Alumni web site listed
this as one of the places where Jayhawks gather to watch their team play
basketball and we thought it would be a fun place to watch KU play TCU.
It wasn't a very good choice. There were few TVs and they were poorly located,
plus the bar played music rather than the sound of the game. On the positive
side, KU won the game (though they played poorly), Public had a couple
of hard ciders on tap and the apple crumble dessert we split was very good.
continued to retrace our path to Newton, where we visited both the Harvey
County Historical Society Museum and the Warkentin House Museum for the
first time. I will be adding pages about them in the near future.
toward home, the next stop was in Cedar Point, where a developer is restoring
the 19th Century Drinkwater & Schriver Flour Mill. Our page
devoted to the mill has been updated with new photos and information.
final stop was just a block from where we had attended the Friday night
music. I mentioned that the Emma Chase Cafe closed over a year ago. It
has recently been replaced with the Keller Feed & Wine Co. which has
a fairly limited menu posted on blackboards behind the counter. I
didn't care much for the selection offered or the BBQ which I picked, but
Linda liked her smoked Italian sausage & pepper pizza.
got back to Olathe about 28 hours after we left.
Breadbasket bakery and restaurant
Asian sculptures and Buddha
Double cheeseburger & chili fries
Drinkwater & Schriver Flour Mill
- January 18, 2016: This is Restaurant Week in the Kansas City metro
area and tonight we tried out The Grille At Park Place in Leawood, which
describes itself as a contemporary American Dining Experience. The service
was very good.
had the espresso ribeye which is one of the restaurants best known dishes.
Linda had the Norwegian salmon. We started with The Grille Salad and deviled
eggs and finished with mini creme brulee and mini key lime pie.
really enjoyed the steak, but that was the only item which impressed me.
The presentation was really nothing. The mashed potatoes were only so-so.
The mini desserts were really mini and it was the first cream brulee I
ever had which I didn't like. It had no flavor.
The Grille At Park Place
- January 22, 2016: We revisited Blind
Box BBQ in Shawnee, which opened 5 months ago. The service and food
have come a long way in this short period of time and Blind Box has become
one of my favorite Johnson County BBQ restaurants.
had the Belly Burger, which is ground Angus combined with smoked pork belly,
topped with applewood smoked bacon, smoked Gouda, jalapenos, lettuce, onion
and tomato. This may become a competitor for our Best Kansas Burgers page!
Linda had the smoked chicken and was equally happy with her meal.
The Belly Burger
- January 27, 2016: I returned to Fireside BBQ in Overland Park, which
has now been open a little over a year. The hours are still very limited,
only 33.5 hours a week, but they are now open on Saturdays. They have added
an old fire truck, parked in front of the restaurant.
food at this restaurant has come a long way since we first tried it in
October 2014. Tonight I had pork ribs and French fries. The fresh cut fries
were very good. The ribs were even better - tender, but still clinging
to the bone, with an excellent flavor from the smoking and rub. They were
expensive - $2.45 a bone for very small rib bones.
order at the counter and I found the menu board on the wall difficult to
decipher. I asked for help, but the woman at the register was not helpful.
I picked up a printed menu before leaving. It was easier to understand.
I also learned that the woman at the register had given me a wrong answer.
- January 29, 2016: After work I started another quick trip to central
Kansas, stopping to photograph the wide Burlingame "main street." Santa
Fe Avenue was part of the Santa Fe Trail which once went down the street.
The 130 foot street has parking on the sides and in the middle of the street.
It was paved with the red bricks in the 1920s.
second stop was on another main street which was part of the Santa Fe Trail,
Main Street in Council Grove. The historic Hays
House Restaurant in Council Grove was opened by one of Daniel Boone's
grandsons in 1857 and is believed to be the oldest restaurant west of the
Mississippi River. It had been over 3 years since my last visit and I needed
to update the review with photos of its recent renovations, the current
menu and finding out if there were other changes. I had the $26 12 ounce
ribeye, chili and Brussels sprouts. The steak was so tender that I could
cut it with my fork and was cooked exactly as ordered (medium rare). It
was the best steak I have had in several months.
the second time this month, I spent the night at Country Haven Inn in Hillsboro.
Hays House Restaurant
- January 30, 2016: I was up early and arrived at Maxwell Wildlife
Refuge near Canton around 7AM to participate in a nature photography event
called Freezing Your Buns Off (FYBO). It was a cold morning, about 32 degrees,
but fairly comfortable until the second hour when the wind came up.
is home to one of the few surviving wild buffalo herds. At the time of
FYBO there were about 200 buffalo and 85 elk on the refuge. Each fall surplus
buffalo are sold as the park's available habitat can support only a certain
number of animals. 56 buffalo were auctioned at the annual fall sale a
couple of months earlier and 10 elk were scheduled for sale in February.
am happy with many of the photos
which I took, though my equipment didn't measure up to what the other photographers
little late getting away from Maxwell (because of flat tires on the trams),
I drove straight to Pilsen, Kansas where Harriet Bina met me at St. John
Nepomucene Catholic Church. Like many of the large beautiful rural churches
of Kansas, it was the third church and was built in 1914 & 1915. Following
photography of the church, Harriet showed me the museum devoted to Father
Emil J. Kapaun in the rectory.
Kapaun grew up in Pilsen and served this church briefly before going to
Korea as a chaplain. He died while ministering the other prisoners in a
POW camp. The Diocese of Wichita and the Vatican have begun the formal
process that could lead to Father Kapaun's canonization, and the tour including
hearing the story of the miracles attributed to Father Kapaun in great
nearly 2 hours in Pilsen, I was now running late and hurried on to Hope
to try out the burgers at Gridiron Cafe to see if they quality for our
Best Burgers page. I went with the Lion Burger, which was 1/3 pound
burger with sautéed onions & mushrooms, bacon & Swiss cheese,
plus a side of skin on fries for $6.29. The fries were OK, but the burger
was really very good and I think this restaurant will make the list.
owner couldn't tell me exactly how old the restaurant is, but she and her
husband have had it for a year and her sister had it for about 6 years
were two stops in Topeka on the way back home. The first was to photograph
431 S.W. Roosevelt Street, the home where the rock band Kansas had their
"band house" in the early 1970s. The band members, crew and a few girlfriends
lived in this house and it is where Kansas wrote "Can I Tell You" and several
second stop was to check out another burger which was nominated for our
Best Burgers page. Larry Short Stop is a gas station convenience store
on Wichita's south side. Larry's started by selling chicken in 1985 and
the menu has slowly grown. The dining area isn't very nice, but there are
three tables and three tiny booths.
ordered fried chicken gizzards, curly fries and a half pound cheeseburger.
The fries and gizzards were nothing special. The burger was good. Good
enough that I understand the people who come across town to get them, but
not at the level where I would consider them for a "best of" list.
Bull elk & bison along the ridge
St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church
Kansas Band House
Larry's Short Stop
- January 31, 2016: We revisited one of my favorite spots for chicken
Peanut on Santa Fe in Overland Park. There have been no significant
changes, but the new menu is now added to this page and the one devoted
Peanut on 127th, which is also in Overland Park.
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