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Archive for "Reviews"

HomeGrown, Finally

Posted on February 2, 2020 by under Food and Drink, Reviews.    

I met Jan for lunch at the Bradley Fair HomeGrown on the first day of my holiday break. HomeGrown has been around for a while now. Their first location on the West side of Wichita opened a few years ago. I’d heard plenty of people say how great it is but since it was all the way out West, we just never got around to going.

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The Bradley Fair location opened some time ago but because it’s so popular the waits on the weekends are always longer than we have time or patience for. Anyway, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I finally had an opportunity to go. I figured since I was going on a weekday the wait wouldn’t be as bad. There was still a wait but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

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Here are some of the delicious drinks they offer.

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I had a chicken and noodle soup. It was great!

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I can’t remember what Jan had but it looked good too.

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Anyway, I liked it so much that I talked my friend Chris into walking over to the downtown location with me and having lunch there. I had the Cuban this time.

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Here’s a better pic.

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Chris decided to have breakfast.

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Then, since Brian and I were both off on MLK day, we decided to meet at the Bradley Fair location so he could try it. Here’s a pic of his meal, which is what he usually gets at most breakfast joints. Brian said the biscuits were delicious! He said they were the best he’s ever had.

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I had the carnitas breakfast which was excellent. I would totally order it again.

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We invited my new friend Sharmin to join us. This is her avocado toast. Anyway, buying her lunch was the least we could do since she was nice enough to bring me along as her guest to her pickleball sessions that morning at the Wichita Country Club. I will have to tell you about that in another post because it deserves its own write up. And this post is all about HomeGrown.

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Later that same week I was back at the downtown HomeGrown location again. This time with Jenni. Yes, I liked it so much I actually ate HomeGrown food (albeit different locations) three times in seven days.

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This is Jenni’s benedict (above). I wanted to try one of their omelets this time (below). It was great. I’ve yet to get anything on the menu that I didn’t enjoy.

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Anyway, HomeGrown is fabulous. The only downside is that, because it is so good, the wait to get a table is atrocious. However, if you get on their waiting list on Yelp, it’s not so bad. I didn’t know this when we went to Bradley Fair on MLK day. We had to wait almost an hour for a table. Well, I think it was 30-40 minutes but it seemed like forever. At least it gave Sharmin time to run her errand across the street at Trader Joe’s.

The time that I went with Chris to the downtown location, we just ate at the bar so we didn’t have to wait for a table. When I went with Jenni, she got there early and was already seated. Regardless of the wait, HomeGrown is totally worth checking out. Even if you have to wait, the food is worth it! Until next time. GNG.

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The Wheel Barrel

Posted on March 30, 2018 by under Food and Drink, Reviews.    

Finally got to try the Wheel Barrel.

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My coworker Tom, who lives in there area, has been talking it up for weeks. However, I’m not usually in Topeka and, when I am, I’m usually hitting up the Burger Stand. We carved out some time on this last trip to Topeka for the Wheel Barrel, though. Sarah, Chris, Tom, and I went on Monday night.

Here are some pics.

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Sarah had a half sandwich and soup combo. I can’t remember what kind of sandwich she got, though. I think she might have gotten the “luau” because I remember us talking about how much she loves ghost peppers.

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Tom had a full sandwich and soup. I can’t remember what kind of sandwich he got for the life of me. He also got the tomato bisque soup. I heard their tomato bisque is really good. I’m not really a tomato bisque soup person but Brian loves that stuff. I may have to bring him here.

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Chris and I both got the same thing — the “hangover” grilled cheese sandwich. It consists of smoked gouda, sharp cheddar, bacon, two fried eggs, and sriracha aioli on sweet brioche. It is amazing. This was, hands down, the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had.

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This is the Wheel Barrel’s take on bananas foster. It was the perfect size dessert of the four of us to share.

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So, I have newfound respect for Topeka and a new favorite restaurant. I’m definitely hitting this place again the next time I’m in town. I may even bring reinforcements (i.e. Brian).

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8° Below

Posted on July 4, 2017 by under Food and Drink, Reviews.    

Ice cream is another great way to beat the heat. There’s a new shop that opened up at Union Station just down the street from my work. I got to check it out with a couple of coworkers, Tony and Theresa, a few days ago.

It was actually Theresa’s idea. We had planned to go as a group but, when the day came, some people backed out so it ended just being the three of us. Theresa originally wanted to drive over but Tony and I talked her into walking. It’s really not that far of a walk from work.

We walked to Heroes first for cheap lunch. Friday is .99 cent tacos day. Then we walked over to 8° Below for dessert.

We have many ice cream shops in town and there’s plenty of good ice cream to be had. What’s novel about 8° Below is that they serve rolled ice cream. It looks really pretty but it does take forever to make.

Let me show you pictures and then I yak at you some more.

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You can pick from the signature flavors or create your own from the vast array toppings, mix ins, and drizzles.

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Then you get to watch them make your ice cream. That is, if the store is not too crowded. The shop isn’t very big.

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Here’s a picture of Theresa, Tony, and me that was taken while we were waiting for our ice cream. There wasn’t a line at lunch but it still takes a while to get your ice cream because they make it to order.

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That was definitely a down side for me. Rolled ice cream is cool and all but I’m not a fan of waiting. I prefer the places that have the ice cream already made so, when I tell them what I want, I have my ice cream in my hand within a matter of seconds.

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I had the mango tango. Theresa had the thanks a latte. Tony had the brownie mix, which I believe is what is pictured above. I didn’t take pictures of all of our ice creams because you’d only be disappointed. The ice cream was tasty but the presentation never looks as good as it does in the pictures.

The verdict? I didn’t like the wait and I thought the ice cream was overpriced. I suppose you are paying for the experience and novelty of watching your ice cream be made and rolled right before your very eyes. If you don’t care either way, then it’s pretty pointless. Just go where they have delicious ice cream at a cheap price like Braum’s or Baskin Robbins.

I probably won’t go back unless Brian just absolutely wants to go.

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Our New Dentist

Posted on June 3, 2017 by under Reviews.    

Brian and I recently switched dentists. The old place just wasn’t cutting it any more. We’d been wanting to switch for a while but hadn’t pulled the trigger until now.

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Here are a few pictures of the new dental office.

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This is their expansive waiting area with floor to ceiling windows.

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I’m not a fan of waiting (I prefer to be in and out) but this comfortable waiting area at least makes the wait, no matter how long or short, more bearable.

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They have a cute waiting area for kiddos also.

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This was our initial appointment with the new dentist. However, Brian had already been there a few days prior for emergency dental work when he broke a tooth.

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I don’t think they did all of the new patient stuff at that time though, because they asked to take pictures on this visit. I think they just took care of his issue.

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Each dental station has huge windows with fabulous views.

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Brian’s view (above) vs. my view…

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But the best view is of your hilarious husband trying to entertain you while your teeth are being cleaned.

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Nice offices aside, the real reason we moved to this dentist was to follow my favorite dental hygienist who left our old dentist when she moved to this office about three years ago. She is amazing. I wish I wouldn’t have waited so long to follow her.

When we posted pictures of our new dentist’s office on Facebook a few weeks ago, we found out that a bunch of our friends go to the same place. People from all over town (even West-siders) are making the trek. They must be really good to be worth the drive. Brian and I concluded that we made the right move.

Our experience has been really good so far. Everyone we’ve met has been very nice and accommodating. They even made it so that my old hygienist worked on my cleaning, even though she wasn’t originally available at the time we made the appointment. I’m super impressed. Here’s to a fruitful new relationship!

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Ambassador Hotel Kansas City

Posted on April 30, 2017 by under Reviews.    

I finally found a hotel that I love during my final week in Kansas City. It’s a shame that I didn’t find out about the hotel sooner. Since September I’d been staying at the Kansas City Downtown Marriott (and enduring their horrendous service and outdated rooms) or the more modern Courtyard Marriott by the Kauffman Center.

I’d been enduring the service at Kansas City Downtown Marriott because it’s only a four-minute walk to the office and most of it is indoors. They have a skywalk that connects the main building to the old Muelebach Hotel across the street from the office on Baltimore, which makes it really convenient on extremely cold winter days and rainy days. I only have to be outside for a brief moment before I’m indoors again. My colleagues discovered the Courtyard Marriott down the street which is about a ten-minute walk. The first time I tried it, I found the rooms to be much more comfortable and nicer and the service was actually better as well, with the exception of valet parking which is usually always a wait no matter what’s going on. There was even one evening when Michelle and I returned from a leadership meeting in Lawrence and the valet was nowhere to be found. However, since the weather had improved, I’d been staying at the Courtyard Marriott more despite all of their shortcomings because they actually had the nicer rooms. I haven’t been completely satisfied, though.

A few weeks ago, one of the consultants who had previously been staying at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown told me about the Ambassador Hotel. He’d been staying there a few weeks at that point and really liked it. He said it’s about the same walking distance as the other hotel, about four minutes, just in the opposite direction. Michelle and I agreed to check it out the week after Easter.

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The hotel is pretty small. It only has seven floors. I think they had to work with the original structure because it’s in an old historic building. For this reason, they have some unique floor plans. For instance, the floor plan of the room that Michelle got is completely different than mine. I’ve also seen pictures of loft-style rooms with a full living room on the main floor and the bedroom in an open loft above it.

I really liked the layout of my room so I took some pictures.

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My room had a little entry hallway.

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The room I got was quite spacious. Opposite the bed, it had a long desk with a built-in refrigerator cabinet and some dresser drawers. The desk also doubled as the TV stand. At the end of the bed was a really nice bench seat.

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The upholstered bench looked custom because it ran the full length of the bed. I found it both beautiful and functional. I would sit on it to put my shoes on in the morning. It was also a great spot to put the clothes I had worn for the day, rather than just having them strewn all over the room.

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The door to the bathroom was a sliding door. It kind of reminded me of a pocket door but prettier. The door is a modern, polished version of the sliding barn doors that you see in high-end custom homes these days.

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My room also had a reading chair and matching ottoman. I thought they were a nice touch. I generally do my reading in bed so I mostly used it to hold my backpack and purse at the end of the day. I found it both pretty and useful, though.

I thought it was a great idea to turn that extra space into a reading corner.

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I had to take a picture of the bathroom as well. There is an upholstered stool in there (tucked under the counter) that makes the bathroom feel posh and elegant. I didn’t find it as useful because I’m too short to actually sit on one of these things and do my makeup but I thought it was pretty.

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Here’s a picture of the enormous shower. The shower was so roomy, you could probably do Zumba in there. (I do not recommend doing this for obvious safety reasons. Just saying it for effect.)

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The room I got was perfect in every way except for the view. For one, you can’t really expect a great view when you’re in the fourth floor of a seven story building among a bunch of skyscrapers. You’re just not that high enough. Secondly, it’s not really in as a pretty a location as the other two Marriott properties. Grand is just not that grand (on this part of town, anyhow).

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The other downside is the tiny fitness room in the basement. It’s literally the size of a closet and only has room for one treadmill, one elliptical, and one bike. The maximum occupancy is three people. No joke. It says that on the wall.

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I suppose that it’s such a small boutique hotel that they don’t really expect that many people to use the fitness room at the same time. Also, they have a partnership with Onelife Fitness. Guests who really want to workout can get a day pass to Onelife at the concierge desk. However, it’s not inside the hotel so you actually have to walk to the gym. It’s not that far, I know, but it’s not ideal for me and my 5 AM workouts. I really like being able to just roll out of bed and go for a treadmill run and then walk back to my room without having to set foot outside.

I’m pretty sure the sole treadmill would have been available for me that early in the morning but I didn’t chance it the week I was there. I enjoyed the comfortable bed a little too much and slept in every single day. Yes, I was a slug that week.

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My disappointment about the fitness room situation was short-lived, though. I came back to the hotel after work one day and found free sangria and cookies in the lobby. I had one of the amazing homemade cookies and a glass of the sangria.

It was heavenly. The free drinks and cookies more than made up for the small workout room.

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I didn’t take advantage of this while I was there because the rates are quite high but I found out that the hotel also offers in-room massages. It’s good to know the option is available. While I wouldn’t normally pay that much for a massage (the spa I go to only charges $95 for 50 minutes for $145 for 80 minutes), I might change my mind after a particularly stressful week. And, it’s nice that I wouldn’t have to walk or drive anywhere. They’d actually come to me.

Speaking of walking or driving, the hotel offers a five-mile shuttle service. If you need to go anywhere within five miles of the hotel, you just let the concierge know and they can have their shuttle take you. This service is actually really nice specially when the weather isn’t that great or you just don’t feel like walking.

The customer service at the Ambassador is really top notch. They go above and beyond any of the other Marriott properties I’ve ever stayed at… This is going to be TMI but they even put tampons in my room for me. Normally I am more prepared when I travel but shark week came almost a week ahead of schedule this time. My monthly visitor arrived while I was at work on Monday. Lucky for me, I had a spare in my purse but I didn’t have any others for the rest of the week. I fully intended to walk to the nearby CVS after work but then I decided to call the hotel to see if they had any feminine hygiene products on hand.

Sure enough, I had several tampons when I returned to my room that evening. I couldn’t believe it. Most husbands won’t even do that for their wives. They gave me enough for the duration of my stay, which is about the length of my periods these days. I was super impressed.

I was really bummed when my Kansas City work assignment abruptly ended because I had finally found a hotel that made me happy. I was so looking forward to staying there again the coming weeks. Oh, well.

This is my new favorite place to stay in Kansas City though, so Brian and I will for sure be staying at Ambassador for our next Kansas City weekend getaway.

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