Entries from blogs tagged with “food”

Lawrence Local Table to host coffee-inspired ‘Dinner at Decade’ this month

Lawrence Local Table is staging a “Dinner at Decade” this month, and to honor its host, the culinary collective is building the meal around coffee.

Just don’t expect to see the ingredient in every dish, says LLT member and Hank Charcuterie owner-chef Vaughn Good. Instead, he and Hank sous chef Jay Tovar Ballagh, as well as 715 executive chef Zach Thompson, are cooking up a six-course menu that follows “the basic processes a coffee bean goes through before consumption,” per Lawrence Local Table’s description.

That includes a “fresh” course (caviar, pickled apple, greens, beet) as well as fermented, dried, roasted, ground and brewed courses, the last of which — a chocolate cake with espresso gelato and coffee service — actually features the special ingredient.

The event, slated for Sept. 27 at Decade coffee shop, 920 Delaware St., is Lawrence Local Table’s fourth since launching in February. So far, the collective’s events have all either sold out or come close to it, says Vaughn, though tickets are still available for this month’s meal.

715’s Katrina Weiss and Jess Anthony will begin serving up complimentary cocktails starting at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $75, and can be purchased online at lawrencelocaltable.com.


New executive chef at Eldridge Hotel announced; revamped menu coming for TEN, Jayhawker

Drue Kennedy is the new executive chef at The Eldridge

Drue Kennedy is the new executive chef at The Eldridge

Drue Kennedy has been named the new executive chef at The Eldridge Hotel, The Olivia Collection — which manages both the Eldridge and The Oread hotels — announced Wednesday. Kennedy, most recently of Kansas City's contemporary Mexican eatery Zócalo, was recently hired to supervise culinary staff at The Eldridge's TEN restaurant and The Jayhawker bar.

Kennedy, who has also worked for PB&J restaurants, Grand Street Cafe and Chicago's Vivere, has also developed a soon-to-be-unveiled new menu for The Eldridge.

"Drue has already made a positive impression on customers with his well-presented, well-balanced daily specials,” said Nancy Longhurst, general manager of The Olivia Collection, in a news release. “We expect more tasty seasonal cooking, awesome food and beverage pairings and exceptional buffets. On occasion you’ll see him tableside in TEN restaurant checking on guests’ meals. Please make Drue feel welcome and share your favorite Eldridge moment with him.”

Local foodies can meet Chef Kennedy — and sample some of his cooking, which draws from his "passion for Italian food, seafood, braised meats and vegetarian and vegan" cuisine, according to the news release — at The Chamber's Taste of Lawrence event Thursday, Sept. 10, on the grounds of Meadowbrook Apartments, located off Bob Billings Parkway and Crestline Drive.

Tickets for the Taste of Lawrence Mixer, slated for 4 to 7 p.m., cost $40 for the general public, $25 for Chamber members and half-price for employees of Douglas County educational facilities. They can be purchased at www.lawrencechamber.com by calling 865-4411.


Recent KU grads selling ‘gourmet’ tacos out of Bullwinkles Bar

The recently opened 14th Street Tacos may be located inside Bullwinkles Bar, the Oread Neighborhood watering hole popular with college students, but owners Brad Jarvis and Matt Pospiech say their taco stand is anything but typical bar fare.

The longtime friends and recent Kansas University grads have been slinging their “gourmet” tacos out of Bullwinkles’ rear corner for about two weeks now.

Business has been pretty good so far, they say, and soon, the pair hope to expand 14th Street Tacos, located near the intersection of 14th and Tennessee streets, with a walk-up window. Once the city approves it, the window, which Jarvis and Pospiech say will tentatively sell coffee at some point, should appear later this month.

“People look at it as bar food,” says Jarvis, who graduated with a business degree from KU in July and handles the logistics of the taco stand. “But even though we’re in a bar, you’re still getting quality tacos.”

Courtesy of Brad Jarvis

Courtesy of Brad Jarvis by Joanna Hlavacek

Ever the millennials, the friends say the goal is to get folks Instagramming their colorful, made-from-scratch tacos.

Right now, the stand’s taco options include poached chicken breast with mango-cucumber salsa and chipotle mayonnaise; braised beef with spicy pickled onions and queso fresco; homemade chorizo with tomatillo-orange salsa; and for the vegetarians, portobello mushrooms sautéed with roasted Poblano and Anaheim peppers.

They’re also working on tacos with pork tinga (a sort of Mexican barbecue, Pospiech says) for next week.

All tacos, they note, are made with gluten-free corn tortillas.

“I wanted people to be taking pictures of our tacos to show their friends,” who studied creative writing at KU and manages food production at 14th Street Tacos. “Nothing looks prettier than mangoes and cucumbers and pickled onions.”

Pospiech, whose father has owned restaurants in the Chicago area for more than 30 years, grew up in the food industry. Jarvis, similarly, comes from a family of business owners. So, when given the chance to open their own taco stand earlier this summer, the pals jumped on the opportunity.

Courtesy of Brad Jarvis

Courtesy of Brad Jarvis by Joanna Hlavacek

They’re still learning as they go, with Pospiech preparing the tacos out of rented commercial kitchens around Lawrence and transferring the food to the bar. Ultimately, the pair says they’d like to find their own kitchen.

Plans to expand the menu — maybe burritos or tostadas, says Pospiech, who adds that nachos will probably be the first to arrive — are also underway.

As of now, hours are 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, though Jarvis says he may open the stand closer to 2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays to accommodate weekend activities such as KU games. He says customers can check 14th Street Tacos’ Twitter for updates.

“It all happened so quickly. We had three weeks to open a restaurant,” says Pospiech, whose parents are making the trip down from Chicago in a few weeks to visit the stand. “There’s going to be a lot of stuff down the road.”


Jefferson’s grand reopening now planned for Wednesday

Jefferson's loyalists may have to wait a bit longer for their chicken wings, it appears.

Jefferson's has been closed since a Jan. 15 fire damaged the building’s roof and rear, and earlier this month, my colleague Caitlin Doornbos reported that owner Brandon Graham was planning to reopen the restaurant today.

But as of this morning, the reopening date has been pushed to Wednesday, Graham says. He says the original date wasn’t “set in stone,” but that a few small delays — such as Black Hills Energy not restoring gas in time, allegedly — did contribute to the change.

Wednesday’s grand reopening, slated for 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., will feature several giveaways (t-shirts, glassware and more, Graham says) plus a contest for customers to guess how many dollar bills lined Jefferson’s walls before the fire. Whoever guesses closest to the tally, which was taken before the ruined bills were removed, will win free hot wings for a year.

Firefighters investigate a fire at Jefferson's, 743 Massachusetts St., on Jan. 15.

Firefighters investigate a fire at Jefferson's, 743 Massachusetts St., on Jan. 15. by Caitlin Doornbos

Besides wings, folks can expect a few new additions to the menu as well.

“I’d like to keep that element of surprise,” Graham says, declining to give further details.

The restaurant itself has a new look — new flooring in the lobby, open ceilings and some remodeling in the kitchen — that Graham says will make Jefferson’s more energy-efficient.

He says the eatery retained a “healthy 60 percent” of its pre-fire staff, but he’s still looking for more help in the kitchen.

Jefferson’s is sticking to hours of operation of 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Graham says he may contemplate late-night hours on weekends down the road, but for right now, he’s just concentrating on getting the restaurant back on its feet.

“We’re obviously very happy to be back,” Graham says. “It’s been a long road.”


Waffle Iron sets re-opening dates, serving up chicken and waffles in meantime; La Prima Tazza to unveil new menu

Listen up, waffle enthusiasts. I’ve got two big pieces of Waffle Iron-related news to share with you.

Let’s start with the most important bit. The popular breakfast spot, which closed earlier this summer for renovations, will re-open Saturday, Sept. 5.

Owner/chef Sam Donnell confirmed the date earlier this week. The Waffle Iron, located in the space above John Brown Underground at 7 East Seventh St., will carry on with its original hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, he says.

If you’re looking for a job that indulges your waffle-loving tendencies, you might consider applying at the Waffle Iron. At least that’s what Facebook is telling me. “Servers, waffle makers, and dish” (I’m assuming that’s dishwashers?) are needed, so if you think you’ve got what it takes, send your resume to waffleironlawrence@gmail.com.

Donnell also shared some juicy (literally) tidbits of this Sunday’s chicken-and-waffles brunch at the Basil Leaf Café, 616 W. Ninth St.

Slated for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the event comes on the heels of Donnell’s first “insane” pop-up event at the Basil Leaf — that one drew a “line around the building” on Aug. 16, he says.

“This time, we’re trying to do our interpretation of a classic, home-style Southern chicken and waffles,” Donnell says. Apparently, that means “a little spicy, a little sweet, a little bourbon.”

On Sunday, Donnell and Basil Leaf owner/chef Brad Walters will serve up buttermilk cornmeal waffles topped with fried chicken marinated in hot sauce.

They’ll also have some pretty inventive condiments on hand, including: bacon pecan peppered caramel compound butter; brown sugar maple bacon butter with bourbon; and a green-chili maple syrup.

As for sides, Donnell says they’re loading each plate with “classic home fries,” local peaches and brown-butter cream with candied bacon.

Based on the Waffle Iron’s last pop-up, he’s expecting to sell out. So, come early. No reservations at this shindig.

La Prima Tazza to serve up streamlined menu, treats inspired by Far East

In other timely dining news, La Prima Tazza will unveil its updated menu this weekend.

Customers should see the “simplified” chalkboard above the shop’s counter when La Prima Tazza, 638 Massachusetts St., opens at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

Not to worry, coffee fans: “No one’s going to be losing anything,” manager Rob Schulte says. “All their favorites are still available.”

My fellow tea drinkers/Japanophiles should appreciate Schulte’s new additions to the menu, which include no less than “four or five” specialty matcha drinks, he says.

If you’re not excited by the thought of coconut-mango iced matchas, matcha lattes, mocha matchas and matcha macchiato coming to La Prima Tazza very soon, here’s a little video that should get you there:


Just Food moving forward with Chef’s Table fundraiser

Despite the recent controversy surrounding former executive director (and now-resigned Lawrence mayor) Jeremy Farmer, a spokesperson for Just Food says the food bank is still moving forward with its upcoming Chef’s Table fundraiser.

Davis Loupe, a volunteer at Just Food at 1000 E. 11th St., stocks shelves at the food bank on Nov. 6, 2014.

Davis Loupe, a volunteer at Just Food at 1000 E. 11th St., stocks shelves at the food bank on Nov. 6, 2014.

“This dinner is important now more than ever as we serve 140 to 200 families a day,” Just Food interim director Elizabeth Keever said in an email.

The event, which is slated for 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Cider Gallery, will feature a six-course meal (with wine pairings) prepared by some of Lawrence’s most celebrated chefs.

That list includes: Rick Martin and Mike Humphrey from Limestone Pizza; T.K. Peterson of Merchants Pub and Plate; Ken Baker formerly of Pachamamas; Zach Thompson of 715; and Vaughn Good and Jay Tovar-Ballagh of Hank Charcuterie.

Tickets for the Chef’s Table event are still available as of Wednesday afternoon and cost $100 for general admission and $800 for an eight-seat table, with proceeds going toward Just Food.

For more information, including where to buy tickets, visit the Just Food website.


Waffle Iron returns with popup this weekend; Basil Leaf Cafe to start serving breakfast

If the Waffle Iron’s recent hiatus has left you in a waffle withdrawal, you’re in luck. Sam Donnell, owner and waffle wizard, has announced plans of a popup this weekend at the Basil Leaf Café, 616 W. Ninth St.

The Waffle Iron, which shares the space above John Brown’s Underground with the bar, closed temporarily in late June for kitchen renovations — a move that had been in the works long before The Waffle Iron moved in about three months ago. But Donnell says they’ve taken longer than expected (something about securing a building permit, he guesses), and with no solid reopening date in sight, he’s “aching to make waffles” again.

For Sunday’s popup (that’s from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., no reservations necessary), Donnell says he’s planning a menu of “classic Waffle Iron” selections.

“Nothing too crazy,” he promises. “It’ll be a chance for everybody to reconnect and get some damn waffles.”

The Hank Benedict (also known as the Waffle Benedict) and Donnell’s popular brown sugar maple bacon waffle are pretty much guaranteed, but much of the “summertime” menu will depend on what’s available at the Lawrence Farmers Market, Donnell says.

The Waffle Benedict at The Waffle Iron, 920 Delaware St.

The Waffle Benedict at The Waffle Iron, 920 Delaware St. by Richard Gwin

Right now, he’s looking forward to seeing if pal Brad Walters' space “has enough juice to handle my iron.” Yes, he really did say that.

Donnell, who says he’s still using The Waffle Iron for private events, is tentatively partnering up with Walters again for a chicken-and-waffles night at the Basil Leaf sometime down the road. According to the Basil Leaf Cafe's Facebook page, it's looking like Aug. 30, though Donnell himself didn't give out a date.

Also on the radar: a possible taco-waffle mashup event inspired by Southern California-style taquerías. Donnell’s been developing a recipe for a cornmeal-based waffle over the last few months that he says pairs nicely with Latin flavors and withstands the weight of “a big pile of carnitas on top of it.”

No word yet on when we can eat carnitas out of a waffle, but I’ll certainly keep you updated.

Breakfast at Basil Leaf

In other Basil Leaf Café news, owner/chef Brad Walters has confirmed plans of a future breakfast menu at the Italian eatery.

It’s something Walters used to offer at the Basil Leaf’s original location (a Phillips 66 gas station along Sixth Street) and has been toying with for a while since opening up at 616 W. Ninth St. in 2013.

Walters says he’s hoping to capitalize on Lawrence’s love of breakfast spots, which despite their prevalence here, often still result in overflow on weekend mornings.

“I think we can pull some of that crowd and bring something unique to the scene that you’re not going to see anywhere else,” Walters says.

He’s still tweaking the roster now, which he says will probably debut next week, but was able to offer a few tantalizing tidbits — namely, French toast made with cinnamon rolls soaked in caramel-apple brandy.

Also, expect biscuits and gravy, plus a “wide variety” of omelets and a few daily specials. There will also be self-serve stations for coffee, juice and milk.

Walters says he isn't sure about the breakfast menu's official debut. He did confirm breakfast hours, though, at least tentatively: 7 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.


Ladybird Diner to reopen Tuesday with ‘new and improved’ menu

The wait is over.

Ladybird Diner will reopen Tuesday evening, restaurant owner Meg Heriford confirmed Monday.

For those of you not in the know, Ladybird was forced to shutter in March after a fire at neighbor Biggs on Mass, 719 Massachusetts St., left the building with extensive smoke and water damage.

Since then, crews have been working to restore Ladybird to its original glory and remove any unsafe traces of smoke damage.

The big event, slated for 5 to 10 p.m., will see the debut of Ladybird’s “new and improved” dinner and cocktail menu, which Heriford and her team spent fine-tuning at the former Pachamamas space this summer.

Heriford said she and her employees approached the five-month hiatus as an opportunity to take stock of what the restaurant does well and what could be improved. The dinner menu, they decided, may have been neglected in favor of the diner’s popular breakfast and lunch selections.

On the new menu, you’ll find old Ladybird favorites like meatloaf and pot pie as well as newcomers like sweet-tea pork chops (served with grits, scallions, greens and charred tomatoes) and a vegetarian squash pasole.

“We’ve got my standard, church-basement style — stuff you’d find at a family reunion or Sunday at your mom’s house — but all the flavors and textures have become more dynamic,” she says. “I’m really excited for people to see.”

In addition to the classic breakfast cocktails they’re known for (think mimosas and bloody marys), Ladybird is serving up a new batch of boozy beverages designed to complement the enhanced dinner menu, Heriford says.

That includes “staff favorite” See-Through Sundress (made with watermelon-and-mint aqua fresca, tequila and cinnamon syrup) and other summer-y creations like the gin-and-brandy-laced Admiral’s Wife (“tastes like a wonderful raspberry iced tea, but loaded with booze,” Heriford teases) and a raspberry-rhubarb cooler called Aunt Sara’s Porch Swing, named after Heriford’s real-life relative.

Still, Heriford says she’s not “reinventing the wheel” at Ladybird. The space should look how customers left it in the spring, aside from a pair of display cases for the diner’s beloved homemade pies.

And doughnuts. They’re a new — and hotly anticipated — addition to the Ladybird menu. Heriford says she’ll have anywhere from 15 to 20 varieties, from the traditional to the zany.

“I call them ‘fussy doughnuts.’ We’ve been doing a lot of weird stuff with them,” says Heriford, who built hype during the restaurant's hiatus with occasional doughnut giveaways at the Pachamamas patio. “A lot of people haven’t had cotton candy or pistachios on a doughnut before, but this town is very adventurous in their eating and I think they’re ready for something different.”

None by Ladybird Diner

But if you’re just looking for a classic glazed doughnut, Ladybird has those, too.

All proceeds from Tuesday’s dinner will benefit Douglas County CASA, Inc. — it’s a cause that’s close to Heriford’s heart, she says.

After that, the restaurant will tentatively return to regular hours (with fresh donuts and coffee available at 7 a.m. and the kitchen opening at 8 a.m.) Wednesday morning.


Local chefs preparing for eggplant battle at Douglas County Fair

Last year, Rick Martin beat out fellow gastronomic greats Rafael and Kate Gonzales of Global Café in the Douglas County Fair’s annual Chefs Challenge.

On Wednesday, the Limestone Pizza owner/executive chef will return to the fairground showdown not as a competitor but as a “culinary interpreter” a la Ted Allen in Food Network’s “Chopped.”

During the event, which is slated for 5 to 7:30 p.m., Martin will chat with competing chefs — Brad Brown, of the Bird Dog Bar in the Oread, Simon Bates of the Burger Stand, and Vaughn Good of Hank Charcuterie — about their culinary techniques, offering up tips on integrating seasonal, local ingredients in everyday meals.

Rick Martin, head chef and owner of Limestone Pizza, plates his pork carnitas chopped salad served with the flat bread as he participates in the fourth annual Chef's Challenge on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, at the Douglas County fair. Martin won first place with his dish.

Rick Martin, head chef and owner of Limestone Pizza, plates his pork carnitas chopped salad served with the flat bread as he participates in the fourth annual Chef's Challenge on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, at the Douglas County fair. Martin won first place with his dish. by John Young

As in years past, Wednesday’s competition — which is organized by Master Food Volunteers and Master Gardeners, both with the Douglas County Extension office — will spotlight a particular ingredient.

This year's star ingredient is eggplant, and chefs will use it, as well as other foods cultivated from local farms and school gardens, to create simple, fast dishes that anyone might recreate easily at home. And as in years past, any audience member whose taste buds need convincing can munch on samples.

It’s all about getting people excited about foods grown or produced right here in Douglas County, says Elizabeth Stewart, an at-large appointee of the Douglas County Food Policy Council, which sponsors the event.

“We’re really trying to appeal to a wide audience, ranging from your foodies to your hardcore cooks to busy families that don’t have a lot of time,” says Stewart, who hopes folks will be inspired to revisit the “misunderstood and misaligned” eggplant. There’s more to it than just eggplant Parmesan, she says.

With help from city mayors of Eudora, Baldwin City and Lecompton, competitors' dishes will be judged on taste, presentation, creativity and the all-important “applause-o-meter” from the audience.

The winner gets bragging rights and a plaque to hang in their restaurant, though all participating chefs will share their recipes from the event online, Stewart says. You can stop by the Douglas County Fair’s fifth annual Chefs Challenge at 5 p.m. Wednesday south of the backdrop in the shelter area of the fairgrounds.


Celebrate National Hot Dog Day with some fancy franks

Today is National Hot Dog Day, and lovers of encased meats are rejoicing across the country. Here are four places in Lawrence with special kinds of frankfurters on their menus to help you celebrate this special day.

Burger Stand

At a restaurant best known for its gourmet burgers and fries, it's easy to overlook the hot dog portion of the menu at Burger Stand at the Casbah, 803 Massachusetts St., or as they call them: "Hawt Doggz." A classic and Chicago dog are always on the menu that also features a new hot dog special each month. This month's is the New York Minute, with caramelized onions, homemade sauerkraut and mustard. For those of you who prefer your encased meat on a stick, Burger Stand also serves a (pretty sizable) corn dog.


For folks who like their hot dogs grass-fed, BurgerFi, 918 Massachusetts St., is another place with "burger" in the name that also sneaks hot dogs onto their menu. The eco-minded chain serves three kinds of dogs — kobe beef, chicken apple, and Vienna beef — that can be ordered in three different styles: New York (basic), Texas (chili) and Chicago (pretty much everything but ketchup).

Leeway Franks

New to the hot dog party in Lawrence is Leeway Franks, which opened last week at 935 Iowa St. #7. The restaurant styles itself as a butcher-shop-meets-concession-stand and specializes in gourmet franks and sausages, with takes on a classic coney, chili dog and bratwurst on this week's menu. But we'd go with the Polish sausage ($7) that features smoked pork sausage, sauteed onions, barbecue sauce and pickles on a hoagie bun, paired with tater tots.

Fat Freddy's

Fat Freddy's, 1445 W. 23rd St., is not a restaurant known for its subtlety, with pretty much every item on the menu being over the top in some way or another. No exception is Freddy's Crazy Cat Dog ($5.99), which the menu describes as a "Quarter Pound Deep Fried Hot Dog, Fried Egg, American Bacon, Spicy Jalapenos and Cream Cheese. That's one crazy cat...dog." Hey, the place isn't called "Thin Freddy's."

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Website names Free State best craft brewery in Kansas

Entertainment website Thrillist has named Free State Brewing Co. the best craft brewery in Kansas.

Entertainment website Thrillist has named Free State Brewing Co. the best craft brewery in Kansas.

As if you needed another excuse to go to Free State Brewing Co.'s cheap pint night on Mondays, entertainment website Thrillist has named the longtime Lawrence restaurant and beer-maker as the best craft brewery in Kansas.

The site recently made a list of the best craft brewers in every state, and the inclusion of Free State should come as no surprise to Lawrencians. It's not exactly a secret how much people love brews like the John Brown, Free State Golden and, one of the 9 Drink Wonders of Lawrence, the Ad Astra Ale.

Here's what Thrillist had to say: "Tallgrass has a bit bigger profile and reach, but there simply isn't a finer beer in the land than the exceedingly complex, yet balanced Old Backus Barleywine from Kansas' original craft kingpin, Free State, which has been keeping Lawrence's collective thirst quenched since 1989. Rock Chalk!"

Employees at Thrillist must have done some bar-hopping in Lawrence before, because the website also recently gave some love to Johnny's Tavern as the most iconic bar in Kansas.

For more on Free State, check out this story by Caitlin Doornbos on how the brewery is pairing up with some Lawrence High School graduates to make a special beer for their 20-year reunion this weekend.


Hank Charcuterie teaming up with Dark Horse Distillery, Wood + Salt for food and cocktail event

Hank Charcuterie is partnering with the folks at Wood + Salt and Dark Horse Distillery to host an evening of hors d'oeuvres and cocktails next week.

The event, which will take place at Hank Charcuterie (1900 Massachusetts St.) at 7 p.m. Thursday, will feature four food-drink pairings created by Hank Charcuterie chefs and Kansas City-based seasonings startup Wood + Salt, respectively. KC's Dark Horse Distillery will provide the booze.

Here's one pairing you'll find on the event's menu: a blackberry julep served with duck galantine (apparently, this French dish consists of de-boned meat that is poached, served cold and coated with aspic — from my repeated viewings of "Julie and Julia," I can tell you an aspic is a sort of savory gelatin) and guajillo, sun gold tomatoes and blackberries.

Hungry for more? Snag your tickets (they're $50 for four courses) at Hank Charcuterie or by calling 832-8688.



Magazine honors two Lawrence restaurants for wine selections

Bird Dog Bar/Five 21 and Ten restaurants have received a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award for 2015.

Bird Dog Bar/Five 21 and Ten restaurants have received a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award for 2015.

Two Lawrence restaurants have earned mentions in Wine Spectator's 2015 Restaurant Awards.

The annual awards, which highlight eateries all over the globe for having exceptional wine selections, included The Eldridge Hotel's Ten restaurant and the Bird Dog Bar/Five 21 Restaurant at The Oread in Wine Spectator's Aug. 31 issue.

The Lawrence honorees join a dozen other Kansas restaurants on the list. You can read the full list of winners (more than 3,600 were honored this year) when the magazine hits newsstands July 21.

For more information on this year's winners, check out WineSpectator.com's Restaurant Search.


Recently opened Yeah Sushi offers whimsical take on Japanese staple

Yuyuan Jiang worked as a sushi chef for eight years, serving up the Japanese delicacy in Houston, Palm Springs, New Orleans, Miami, New York City, and even a stint in Korea — both North and South.

Now, he's rolling up (that's my attempt at a sushi joke) everything he learned from those experiences into his new restaurant, Yeah Sushi, which opened in late May at The Malls Shopping Center along 23rd Street.

Sandwiched between Westlake Ace Hardware and Radio Shack, the compact eatery at 711 W. 23rd St. offers more than 50 varieties of sushi, plus soups, salads and appetizers such as edamame and fried calamari.

Customers are often “surprised” when they first see their order arrive on the table, Jiang says — and for good reason.

“I haven’t seen anything like this in Lawrence,” he says. “Or the state.”

Each dish involves the kind of colorful, elaborate presentation Jiang picked up during his time on the coasts, with sauces carefully applied to the plate to create whimsical designs (fish are a recurring motif) and glowing LED lights to brighten up the food.

That’s the case with Yeah Sushi’s Sweetheart Roll: each bundle of tuna, shrimp tempura, crab meat and cucumber is wrapped in pink soybean paper and rolled into a heart shape. It’s served with a martini glass filled with pink LED lights, and nothing else.

Jiang says he bought the former Thai House space (its owners were retiring, he says) in the hope that his unusual creations would bring in college students. So far, business has been slow, but Jiang is optimistic that it'll pick up when classes resume in August.

In the meantime, he’ll continue offering lunch specials every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’re not busy, but every customer who comes here to eat — they’ll be back,” Jiang says. “Right now, we just need more customers.”

Yeah Sushi is open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.


WheatFields, Bread Bakers Guild of America to host open house Saturday

WheatFields Bakery Café: Best Bakery, Best of Lawrence 2015

WheatFields Bakery Café: Best Bakery, Best of Lawrence 2015 by Jason Dailey

The people's choice for Lawrence's best bakery is giving the public a glimpse of the bread-making process Saturday afternoon during a Bakery Open House at WheatFields Bakery, 904 Vermont St.

WheatFields and the Bread Bakers Guild of America are teaming up to host the event, in which "everyone is welcome to stop by and see where we produce your favorite breads, meet with some of our bakers and talk about bread, baking or anything else," reads a Facebook post from WheatFields.

No reservations are needed for the open house; just stop by anytime between 3 and 5 p.m. for bread samples, light refreshments and some carbalicious fun.


Ladybird Diner owner keeping busy with doughnuts while restaurant is closed

Lawrence, apparently, is a town that loves its doughnuts. It's a love that, when said doughnuts are offered up for free on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon at the now-closed Pachamamas patio, reaches biblical proportions.

"It was like a plague of locusts," Ladybird Diner owner Meg Heriford tells two women approaching her makeshift doughnut-giveaway area. Other doughnut seekers follow, and Heriford has to break the news to them, too: "Sorry, they're all gone."

Less than 30 minutes after announcing via Twitter that she would be giving away doughnuts "all you can carry" to anyone, all 400 of Heriford's colorful confections had been snatched up, leaving only crumbs on the sidewalk as proof of their existence.

None by Ladybird Diner

Ladybird Diner was forced to close after a March 3 fire at its neighbor Bigg's on Mass. Since then, crews have been working to remove smoke damage and replace interior furnishings.

Luckily for foodies, Heriford has spent that time "fine-tuning" her menu, and has rented out Pachamamas to use as a test kitchen for the newest addition to Ladybird: doughnuts.

Heriford is taking an optimistic approach to the fire fallout, saying it has given her time to figure out how many doughnuts she'll need to churn out in order to keep up with demand when her restaurant opens back up later this summer. She declined to give a specific date, though she expects it to happen by the time college students are back in town.

She's kept her hand in the Lawrence dining scene during the interim period, selling Ladybird pies at The Bourgeois Pig for about a month earlier this summer, and also delivering doughnuts to local nonprofit organizations via her "doughnut mobile" in honor of National Doughnut Day on June 5.

In the meantime, Heriford said there will be more doughnut giveaways in the future.

None by Ladybird Diner

Her lemon-filled doughnuts were a hit at Tuesday's event, which Heriford described as a dress rehearsal for when the doughnuts' debut at Ladybird. Other flavors leaned toward the traditional (chocolate cake doughnuts, coconut, peanut butter, and several varieties of old-fashioned, from vanilla to blackberry to salted caramel) while some were more wacky.

The "Triple-Decker Birthday" variety, for example, entailed three doughnuts stacked on top of each other — Heriford particularly enjoyed watching people figure out how to eat that one.

"We've got a good idea of what it'll take to produce a case full of doughnuts," Heriford says. "But I think pie will always be the star of the show. Pie is what we do."

According to Twitter, another doughnut giveaway may be in the works soon. Watch Ladybird's Twitter and Facebook for updates.


Foodies can eat, drink, eat some more during the Free State Festival

The Free State Festival's Lawrence Mixology event June 23 at John Brown's Underground will feature a panel of local cocktail experts.

The Free State Festival's Lawrence Mixology event June 23 at John Brown's Underground will feature a panel of local cocktail experts.

Attendees of next week's Free State Festival should have their fill of music, art, film and ideas. And the festival's making sure all the foodies out there get their fill of food and drinks as well, with three dining-related events on this year's roster. Here's a breakdown:

Lawrence Mixology

Cocktail-crazy? Check out this rundown of the latest bartending trends from a panel of local experts from 6 to 7:15 p.m. June 23 at John Brown's Underground, 7 E. Seventh St.

"Mezcal aficionado" Adam Clary will guide participants on Oaxacan drinking culture and tradition, while 715's Katrina Weiss will discuss "history's greatest punches" and share how to create cocktails fit for hosting a large group.

Rounding out the panel is Kate Brubacher of John Brown's Underground. The festival's Lawrence Mixology description mentions her enthusiasm for "clean drinking" (think cocktails with herbs, plants, essential oils and fresh produce — much of which Brubacher grows in her own backyard), so perhaps we'll see a bit of greenery when it comes to her portion of the event.

For obvious reasons, this event is for those 21 and up. Tickets cost $25 and include "cutting-edge cocktails and nibbles."

Lawrence Eats!

Lawrence Eats!, a discussion of "food trends, food favorites and food fanaticism," is slated for 6 to 7:15 p.m. June 24 at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St.

This free event invites foodies to meet some of Lawrence's greatest culinary minds, including Mel Roeder of Cafe Beautiful, Matt Hyde of 715, Jesse Bonebrake of Mariscos and Rick Martin of Limestone Pizza, and learn what they're cooking up in their kitchens.

Stella Artois Presents the Free State Festival Beer Dinner

For the hardcore foodies (or those with the deeper pockets), there's the first annual Free State Festival Beer Dinner on June 26 at Maceli's Banquet Hall and Catering, 1031 New Hampshire St. Tickets to the dinner cost $100 and include a five-course meal of beer-based recipes from local chefs and food-beer pairings by Anheuser-Busch brewmaster George Reisch.

Participating chefs include Mark Gregory of Maceli's, Nick Wysong of Ingredient/Five Bar and Tables, T.K. Peterson of Merchants Pub and Plate, Dave Nigro of Maceli's and Patrick Ryan of Port Fonda, who will respectively handle the bread, soup, salad, entree and dessert courses.

Attendees will get the chance to learn about beer-meal pairings and collect new recipes to try at home, and they'll also have a chance to win door prizes.

"Beertails" commence at 5:30 p.m., while dinner will take place between 6 and 8 p.m. Visit the festival's website for a full menu.

Tickets for Lawrence Mixology and the Free State Festival Beer Dinner can be purchased online at freestatefestival.org.


Waffle Iron taking things slow at new location, with sweet and savory surprises in store

The Hank Benedict at Waffle Iron, 7 E. Seventh St.

The Hank Benedict at Waffle Iron, 7 E. Seventh St.

When it comes to mastering the art of waffles — or, to clarify, a waffle house — it’s best to take things slowly.

That’s the approach Sam Donnell’s taking over at The Waffle Iron, which opened in its new location at 7 E. Seventh St. four weeks ago. Foodies may remember the original home of the waffle business at Decade Coffee Shop in East Lawrence, where it operated from January to early May.

The Waffle Iron, 7 E. Seventh St.

The Waffle Iron, 7 E. Seventh St. by Joanna Hlavacek

“This went from my first pop-up to a full-blown location in three months,” says Donnell, the Waffle Iron's owner/chef. “There’s still a lot I’m learning.”

Donnell’s sharing his new home in the upstairs space of the speakeasy-themed bar John Brown’s Underground. Thanks to the pairing, customers can now enjoy Donnell’s signature waffles with brunch-y cocktails such as bloody marys and mimosas from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The Waffle Iron, 7 E. Seventh St.

The Waffle Iron, 7 E. Seventh St. by Joanna Hlavacek

John Brown's, which mainly operates on the basement level of the building, occasionally uses the upstairs space — an expanse of old wood floors with a golden-hued tin ceiling, a chandelier and giant windows overlooking Seventh Street — for private events in the evenings, though Donnell says bar staffers are letting him use it for night-time events once a month.

Donnell is currently in talks with Basil Leaf Cafe and Hank Charcuterie to host a “chicken and waffles night” at some point this summer. Also on the radar: Donnell says John Brown's has plans to install a fully functioning commercial kitchen in the space sometime in the next few months, at which point he’ll temporarily close the shop. (The Waffle Iron will also be closed the last weekend of June, Donnell says.)

As of right now, Donnell and his staff (he’s still the only cook cranking out waffles on the restaurant’s two waffle irons, though he’s got someone to wash dishes and John Brown's bartenders helping him out with drinks) are serving “just the classics,” though he plans on debuting more of his zany creations once he gets more settled in.

The popular Hank Benedict — essentially a waffle topped with eggs Benedict, which you may remember as the Waffle Benedict from Off the Beaten Plate a few months back — has moved from Fridays only to being available Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sweeter waffle varieties like vanilla bean maple, blueberry lemon curd and s’mores have made appearances, too.

The restaurant also has cold-brew coffee on tap from Alchemy Coffee and Bake House. Also coming soon: table-side French press from Kansas City’s Messenger Coffee Co.

Donnell says business has been slower than it was at Decade so far, which he’s ultimately OK with. Had he opened a month or two earlier with the KU crowd still in town, it may have been too much to handle in the midst of figuring out all the logistics that come with opening a new restaurant — especially in a space that has never housed one before, he points out.

“Without students here, it’s allowed me to open in a quiet way. I’m taking it slow, and I want it to grow naturally,” Donnell says. After all, “It was only this week that I got a coffee grinder.”


Artisan bakery 1900 Barker holds soft opening

None by 1900 Barker

After more than a year in the works, 1900 Barker Bakery and Cafe is finally open for business in East Lawrence. The artisan bakery, located at — you guessed it — 1900 Barker Ave., is holding a soft opening with limited menu from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

As Chad Lawhorn reported back in January, 1900 Barker is owned by Lawrence pastry chef Taylor Petrehn and his brother Reagan. Back then, Petrehn said the focus would be on breads, though he planned to offer a few pastries as well.

From the looks of its Facebook page, the business (which used to house a laundromat) is on track to have fresh loaves of its "Utility Loaf, Seeded Utility and Raisin/Pecan" varieties ready by Friday afternoon. The business aims to use naturally occurring yeasts and without additives to make a healthier, longer-lasting bread.

"Once though [sic] the weekend we'll be continuing on starting the middle of next week with limited hours as we figure out the new rhythm," 1900 Barker posted Wednesday. "See you guys soon!"


Lawrence bars serving up cocktails for charity during Negroni Week

This Negroni cocktail at John Brown's Underground features a twist on the classic recipe by adding Herbsaint and orange essential oil along with the traditional ingredients of gin, vermouth and Campari with a lemon twist. John Brown's is one of several Lawrence bars participating in Negroni Week to raise money for local charities through June 7.

This Negroni cocktail at John Brown's Underground features a twist on the classic recipe by adding Herbsaint and orange essential oil along with the traditional ingredients of gin, vermouth and Campari with a lemon twist. John Brown's is one of several Lawrence bars participating in Negroni Week to raise money for local charities through June 7.

About a dozen Lawrence restaurants and bars are inviting customers to drink for a good cause this week.

Negroni Week, a yearly event presented by Campari and Imbibe Magazine, enlists the help of bars around the world to mix up their favorite variations of the timeless cocktail that traditionally features gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. For each Negroni sold at participating bars, a portion of the proceeds will go toward a local charity of the bar's choice.

At Mariscos, bartenders are doing a standard Negroni with a splash of gin-barrel-aged orange bitters plus a garnish of "flamed orange twist," all served with an extra large ice cube. (The restaurant is donating $1 per drink to Just Food; a few other participants said they hadn't decided on a precise number.)

The Bourgeois Pig, John Brown's Underground and 715 are all teaming up to benefit the Lawrence Humane Society by creating different twists on the drink.

715 will feature the classic Negroni all week long, with new variations offered each day. Tuesday, bartenders will be serving up The Jasmine (with rum and Cointreau orange liqueur). The next day, it's the Perfect Sherroni (sherry instead of the standard gin, plus both sweet and dry vermouths).

On Monday, John Brown's was serving a "New Orleans twist" on the drink, with Herbsaint and orange essential oil mixed in with the traditional ingredients. The bar also plans to add a new take on the drink for a $5 special each day this week.

Other Lawrence locations, like Genovese and The Burger Stand, are sticking with the classic recipe.

From now until June 7, you can stop by any of these local establishments for a refreshing Negroni — and a bit of positive karma (the local charity each location is benefiting is in parenthesis):

715 (Lawrence Humane Society)

The Burger Stand (Lawrence Humane Society)

Genovese (Help Nepal Foundation)

Henry's (Lawrence Humane Society)

John Brown's Underground (Lawrence Humane Society)

Legends (Boys & Girls Club)

Mariscos (Just Food)

Minsky's (March of Dimes)

• The Salty Iguana (Newhouse Shelter)

Six Mile Tavern (Newhouse Shelter)

The Bourgeois Pig (Lawrence Humane Society)

For more information on Negroni Week, including a full list of participants, check out the event's website.