Churn & Burn

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Churn & Burn is probably the best ice cream shop that you’ve never heard of or tried before. That could be for several reasons: their location, which is not really in the best part of town, and it’s not a chain. If you’ve never been though, it’s definitely worth checking out for several reasons: they have a really cool coffee and ice cream concept, they make their own ice cream (which is actually pretty good), they do cool stuff with liquid nitrogen that’s really fun to watch, and they have vintage arcade game tables.

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My friend Jeri kept posting about it on Facebook so we finally just had to check it out. Plus, we really had no reason not to. Churn & Burn is technically on our side of town.

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They have lots of delicious flavors. Their ice cream kind of reminds me of the ice cream that Marble Slab (in Bradley Fair) serves.

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This is that thing they do with liquid nitrogen.

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Brian getting ready to play some games.

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Incidentally, Jay and Becca actually know the owner. They saw our Facebook post while we were there and decided to pop in since they were in the neighborhood. They used the opportunity to say hello to the owner and visit with me and Brian also. It was great catching up with Jay and Becca. We hadn’t seen these two jet setters in a while.

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Anyway, don’t mind the tacky plastic sign. They were on the other end and just recently moved to this end of the strip. Don’t judge a book by its cover, remember? We just learned this. Also, don’t judge a book by its location. This part of town may not be great but this place definitely is, so come check it out.

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The Kamayan Truck

Have you tried food from the Kamayan truck yet? It’s probably the best food you’ve never tried. I highly recommend checking it out. It’s my new favorite food truck because they serve some of my Filipino foods that I can’t get anywhere else. Here are some pictures of dishes that they offer to whet your appetite.

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These are the Asian tacos. Not really Filipino but it usually helps to serve people something familiar. I prefer the pork dishes, though.

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Brian and I have tried a few things. I don’t have any pictures of the porchetta because, the day I got them for us, I had to drive across town to Brian’s office and, by the time I got there, I was so starving. Brian was starving too. We were so hungry we just scarfed up the food and, by the time I remembered that I needed a photo, all we had were empty boxes. We ate every bit of it; including the achara, which I love.

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Achara is a Filipino food condiment made from pickled green (unripe) papaya. You can see some of it in the photos above. It’s so good. If you’d like to make yourself some, here’s a link to one of the recipes online; or you could save yourself the effort and just buy some from Kamayan. Theirs is really good.

If you want to track the truck down, like their Facebook page to follow them around town just like I do. The best time to try them is for the bigger events like Food Trucks at the Fountain because they save the lechon (pictured above) for special occasions.

Lechon is the best. It’s my favorite thing ever and there aren’t many places you can get it. That’s why I look forward to when I can get it from the Kamayan truck. The skin of the lechon is the best part. You must try it and let me know what you think in the comments.

13th Anniversary Dinner at Luciano’s

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Here are some pictures from our low key anniversary dinner at Luciano’s, a restaurant that we’ve heard so much about but have never been to until now.

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This is Brian’s interpretation of Kilroy.

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Our delicious starter, which consisted of two different types of mozzarella cheese, prosciutto (from Parma, Italy), kalamata olives, olive oil, and salt.

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I liked the cozy ambiance of the restaurant. It’s quiet enough for a nice, intimate conversation also. Brian and I agreed that it’s a great place for a date.

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Brian had the baked lasagna.

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I had the pasta carbonara.

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And, we each got dessert. Tiramisu for me.

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Creme brûlée for Brian.

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Brian and I really enjoyed our dinner at Luciano’s. Even though they did card us and I didn’t have my purse with me. At least our server used good judgement and realized that if I’m married to an old man like Brian then I must be equally old. LOL.

I’m really glad they let me drink otherwise I would have missed out on the delicious sangria. It was so good that I had two glasses of it. Even Brian liked it. The only downside is that you could only order it by the glass. A carafe to share with Brian would have been nice.

Anyway, great dinner overall. I highly recommend Luciano’s. Brian and I will definitely be back, with or without a special occasion to celebrate.

The Hill Bar and Grill — New Favorite

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We tried the Hill for the first time recently and now it’s our new favorite place to eat. Brian and I are addicted to the chicharrones.

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As you can see, we can’t get enough of it.

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Brian says their onion rings are really good too. We love that they provide a variety of dipping sauces. They’re all very good but we think that the one we like the most is called chipotle aioli. It goes great with the chicharon.

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Some folks at work tried the Hill and said it was really good. My friend/coworker Tammie likes it because they have lots of options for vegetarians. They have several gluten free items on the menu as well.

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Here are some pictures of food from the Hill.

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My favorite thing to get is the carnitas tacos. Admittedly, I haven’t really tried much of anything else. Brian and I have been to the Hill twice now. The first time was when we had lunch with Jan, Connie, and Isaac. The second time was last Thursday when we wanted to grab a quick bite before going to Chamber Music at the Barn.

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I tried to order something different on our last trip there but, after much deliberation, I still ordered the carnitas tacos. Sometimes you just have to stick with what you know.

Brian had the pulled pork sandwich the first time and chicken tacos the second time. The chicken tacos looked good but I don’t think that they were nearly as good as my carnitas tacos. Just sayin’.

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We didn’t have time for the donuts on our first trip because it was during my lunch hour and I had to get back to work. The menu says to allow 10 minutes for the donuts so I recommend ordering it only if you have some time to spare.

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Since we missed out the first time, we made sure to get it on our second trip. The donuts are really donut holes covered in cinnamon and sugar. They kind of remind me of the sopapillas we get at Felipe’s Jr for dessert, except they’re a lot smaller than the regular sopapillas and bigger than the bite-sized ones. They came with three different dipping sauces: raspberry, chocolate, and caramel.

I thought they were good but not as good as sopapillas. If I could have the mini sopapillas from Felipe’s with these dipping sauces that would be the perfect combination. Still, I really liked the Hill. The location is great for meeting up with our West side friends who don’t want to drive all the way out to the East side and there’s bound to be something on the menu that everyone will enjoy.

Brian and I both liked the Hill so much that we’re already looking forward to our next trip. I just hope that I can talk myself out of ordering the same thing again next time.

Dempsey’s Burger Pub

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Brian and I finally had a chance to try Dempsey’s a couple of weeks ago. When you enter the restaurant, you’ll notice they have an upstairs and downstairs section. Brian and I opted to go to the basement because it seemed like there was more energy down there and we wanted to be where the action was.

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Here’s a picture of the upstairs. If you want to talk, it might be best to stay upstairs. Not sure if it’s that way all the time but it was pretty loud downstairs when we went.

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I had the buffalo wings because I’m not really a burger person. I know. Right. Why go to a burger pub? LOL. Brian and I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about mostly.

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The truffle fries were decent. They’re not as good as the ones they serve at the Anchor or Flying Stove, though.

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Brian had their egg burger. It’s one of those burgers that looks so ugly that you expect it to be really good. Much like the truffle fries, it was just okay.

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Overall Dempsey’s was pretty underwhelming. I’m not sure if we ordered the wrong things (although, we’ve been to restaurants before where everything’s fantastic so it didn’t matter what you ordered) or if everyone has been talking it up so much that we had unrealistic expectations. Either that, or we waited too long to check them out and they’re now in their mediocre phase. You know how that goes. Sometimes restaurants are amazing in the first couple of months but then they just kind of flatten out after a while.

On the plus side, our server was super nice and friendly. That’s not much of a differentiator, though. Maybe we’re just lucky but we get great service at most places. You really have to have great food. When we left Brian was like, “I really don’t care if we go back.” That pretty much sums the whole experience up.

Dempsey’s was just okay so Ziggy’s still rules Clifton Square as far as we’re concerned.

Finally Tried the Cuban at Metro Grill II

The last time we tried to go to Metro Grill II they were closed so Brian and I were finally excited to be able to eat there. It’s been at least a couple of weeks now but I’ve been behind on the blog so I’m just now writing about it.

Here are some pictures of our sandwiches.

I had a chicken sandwich that was mighty tasty.

Brian liked it even better than his Cuban, and that’s his favorite sandwich.

Everyone does something different with their Cuban sandwich and Metro Grill II is no exception. Their twist is they put potato chips in it. It’s odd but it does give it a nice crunch. Brian, even with the added twist of the potato chips, the sandwich itself was just okay. The pork needed more flavor and it was missing the sweet pickles that he likes.

Their potato chips are homemade and very good. Just had to add that bit of info.

These potatoes are seasoned very well and also delicious.

You know what else is delicious at Metro Grill II? Their desserts.

The only downside of dining at Metro Grill II is that you end up smelling like food when you leave because of the open kitchen concept.

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I really like Metro Grill II overall. Their Cuban may not be as good as other Cuban sandwiches we’ve had but everything else they make is delicious. I have never been disappointed.

Brian and I really loved the chicken sandwich I had. It’s called Tuscan chicken and it’s got the perfect blend of flavors. We’ve decided that we’re just going to split it on our next visit because it’s large enough to feed two. And then we’ll actually have enough room for dessert, which we missed out on this last time because we were both too full.

It’s all good though, because now we have another reason to return.

Harry Caray’s at Midway

This blog is so behind. I’m having trouble keeping up.

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These are picture from the Harry Caray’s at Chicago Midway International Airport, where Darcy and I were delayed on our way back from New Jersey. I believe storms were the reason for the delays that day.

Always one to find the silver lining in everything, I felt like it turned out okay. We got to have a nice leisurely dinner at a place I’d never tried before.

It seemed to be a popular place to eat. Either that or there were several delays that day and everyone had the same idea: eat at Harry Caray’s. LOL.

Midway has more food options than the Wichita airport but it’s still an airport. There may be several options but there’s not that many good options. Harry Caray’s I guess just happens to be one and therefore it’s popular. I think we had a 30 minute wait. Not that we were in a hurry because our flight was delayed anyway. We had time to kill. Apparently, others were in the same boat because there were quite a few people ahead of us and they were willing to to way at as well.

I missed taking a photo of our actual meal. However, I did get a photo of the homemade potato chips topped with bleu cheese crumbles. It’s rare that you run into homemade anything inside an airport. If you ever get stuck at Midway, I highly recommend Harry Caray’s. Either that, or you could do yoga. There happens to be a little yoga studio just around the corner.

Originally we were going to arrive at 10 PM so I had planned on going to work the next day to complete mid-year reviews with my team members. Due to the delay, we didn’t arrive back in Wichita until well after midnight and I didn’t get home until after 1 AM. Despite my good intentions, there was no way I could make it to work by 7 AM the next day so I ended up taking the day off.

It worked out okay because I was still able to complete my mid-year reviews the following week, right before the holiday. Yeah. This blog is really behind. I still have to share with you guys 4th of July photos and everything else that happened. I may just have to write one long, catch up blog.

Have a fantastic weekend!

The Cheesecake Factory Two Nights in a Row

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When we were in Edison a couple of weeks ago we ended up eating at the Cheesecake Factory two nights in row. Why? Because there’s nothing else in Edison. LOL. I didn’t mind actually because I like the Cheesecake Factory.

The nice thing about the Cheesecake Factory is they have a huge menu that has dishes from almost every cuisine imaginable. There’s bound to be something on the menu that strikes your fancy. I’ve yet to try a dish that I didn’t like. And, they’re very consistent. The same dish tastes exactly the same no matter which Cheesecake Factory you visit.

On our first trip to the Cheesecake Factory in Edison, we started with crab cake bites. They were yummy.

I can’t remember what this is called but it’s what Darcy had and she said it was really good. I had the bang bang chicken and shrimp (below), which is my favorite dish they make. I always tell myself I’m going to order something different but some always end up with the same dish.

The next night we’re dining with people from other utilities and we end up at the Cheesecake Factory again, for lack of better options in Edison. Long wait this time because there were some graduations going on that night. We were told 30 minutes but our pager never buzzed. About 40 minutes into the wait, Darcy finally went back inside to check. They told her that they’d been paging us. Not sure why they didn’t try calling because they had one of our phone numbers also.

Anyway, we should have known service wasn’t going to be great from then on. Darcy any I didn’t have any problems the previous night though, so we didn’t think anything of it.

After we were seated it took a while for our server to come back and take our orders. I think he was a little put out by the fact that we were all on separate checks. The people at the other end said that they heard him mutter, “So I’m going to get stiffed.”

The service we received reflected that attitude also. The food took forever. After we got our food, no one ever came back to check how it was. Drink refills didn’t come. We had to specifically ask. And when we did ask, he would forget and had to be reminded.

It was so bad that, even though several of us talked about wanting to order some cheesecake for dessert, he just brought us our checks without offering dessert. My thought was, he would have gotten a much bigger tip if he would have let us order dessert and rack up a bigger tab. Some people are just not very good at their job and not very smart. Either that or he was having a really bad day.

But hey, at least I got a couple more food pictures of it. I didn’t take pictures of mine and Darcy’s dinner because I got the bang bang chicken and shrimp again (surprise, surprise) and that’s what Darcy had too.

A couple of people had shrimp and chicken gumbo, which they said wasn’t very good. That’s kind of bummer because that was the only redeeming quality of the restaurant, I thought. The service was terrible but at least my food tasted good.

Anyway, the disaster didn’t end at the table. I went to the restroom before we left and two of the stalls were completely out of toilet paper. The trash was overflowing and they were out of paper towels. I’m not sure what shape the men’s restroom was in but the ladies’ room looked like it hadn’t been serviced since that morning. They must have been really busy that night.

I normally like Cheesecake Factory restaurants. They’re a safe bet because the food is consistently good and, from my previous experience, the service has been pretty good too. The one in Edison is terrible though. Must be an Edison thing because the Hilton Garden Inn there was terrible too. So relieved I don’t ever have to go back!

NY Munchies with Darcy

Darcy and I stopped at several places while walking around New York. First stop was Brasserie Cognac at around 11 AM. This was the place with the snobby waiter who said we couldn’t stay for just coffee because of their non-existent lunch rush. I’m not an alcoholic but I did end up ordering a peach bellini. Darcy had a glass of sangria. We finished our drink and continued our NY adventure.

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Next stop: Ivy in Hell’s Kitchen. This place had huge accordion windows that open completely so you feel like you’re outside inside. It was awesome. It was like we were out on the patio but we had the comfort of AC. We stay by the window which made for some great people watching.

At one point one of the NY bus tours was stopped in front of the restaurant. That’s NY traffic for you. I waved at the people on the bus but none of them waved back. They all had this uniform look of disdain. Not sure if it was the heat or what, but not one person was smiling. We had walked by several people peddling bus tours. It’s great for if you can’t walk long distances or don’t want to, but Darcy and I agreed it didn’t look like much fun. Seeing those people’s faces just proved us right.

Darcy and I ate a substantial breakfast at the hotel before we left so neither of us were really hungry for lunch. We decided to just get the artisanal cheese board and a pitcher of sangria. We were already drinking so might as well keep going.

Darcy knows more about cheese than I do so I let her do the picking. She chose Brie Fermier Jouvence (cow), Westfield Farm Capri (goat), and Pyrenees Brebis (sheep) so all the animals were represented. They were all really tasty with the grilled baguette but the honeycomb stole the show. I’d never had honeycomb before. It tasted amazing. Darcy recommended spreading both honey and cheese on the grilled baguette. I’d never had cheese that way before either. It was so good. The honey really highlighted the cheese flavors. My favorite combo was the honeycomb and capri on a baguette.

Love, love, love! Now I’m craving honeycomb. I don’t know where to buy it here, though.

We walked around some more then when we were ready to stop again, we stopped at Hudson Station. They mostly had bar food which didn’t really appeal to us so we just had drinks and left. Darcy found a place with good reviews called Marseille so we walked over there. Except our timing was a bit off. The kitchen was closed at the time and didn’t open again until 5 PM. We ended up going to Nizza down the street instead. The host at Marseille recommended it.

The best part about being in Hell’s Kitchen is all of the great restaurants. There’s so many of them. Although, out of all of the stops we made that day, Ivy was my favorite of all. I’m totally taking Brian there when we return this fall.

Efes Restaurant

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Darcy and I ended up at Efes on our first night in New Jersey because we didn’t want to be too far from the train station. We walked up and down the street and didn’t really find anything that appealed to us. Efes looked quaint and promising.

The naan and the sauces were good. Service was super slow, though. I was really thirsty and I think she only refilled my water once. I had to ask for a water refill and had to wait a really long time.

The hummus and falafel were good but neither Darcy nor I liked our entree, which was a bummer because it was one of the house specialties and came highly recommend by our server. We should have known she was clueless.

The description made it sound yummy and the server’s recommendation sold us. We both got the chicken dish, which Darcy describes sweet and sour chicken without the sweetness. It had a very pronounced sourness to it. Maybe we just don’t know our Turkish foods.

I wish that I would have ordered the salmon dish instead. It was that or the chicken dish. However, the chicken dish was a house specialty and our server told us it was her favorite and very popular. Usually, the house specialties are a good bet. Oh, well.

Maybe we just ordered the wrong thing because the restaurant is rated pretty well on Zagat. So disappointing.

The poor service didn’t help matters any. Our server never came unless we tried to get her attention. And, I really, really needed some water to tone down the sour flavor of the sauce. Darcy recommended just having more bread. I wanted my water, darn it!

The best part was the upside down “wash your hands” flyer in the restroom. The person who posted it couldn’t be bothered to make sure it was right side up. Seriously. You had one job! I had to take a picture.

Maybe this restaurant was good at one point but I’m guessing it’s been a long time since anyone who works there really cared.

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