Food Review | Tallgrass Taphouse – Manhattan, KS

Most locals seem to know that Tallgrass Brewing Co. has opened a new Taphouse on Poyntz Avenue in downtown Manhattan, KS. The Tallgrass brewery, which previously sat just of Highway 24 outside of Manhattan, is now operating in their new location near the airport.  They’ve been quite successful since opening in 2006 and are so far seeing a similar success with the new Taphouse.

The Taphouse opened in early June, about a month ago. A small group and I enjoyed a dinner there for the 4th of July. After a short wait for a table, we were seated in a large, comfortable booth in the main dining area where the full menu is served. Rooftop tables are first come, first served and feature a limited menu of appetizers and pizza. There are three bars (main, rooftop, neighborhood back bar) and rentable party spaces.

For an appetizer we tried the Fire Roasted Edamame. Though the portion was pretty small, they were cooked correctly. It was not completely clear how the ponzu sauce was supposed to be eaten with the edamame, since they come in a shell and pop out like peanuts right into your mouth. The House Salad was a good size and everything seemed fresh. The ingredients were listed out on the menu, with the exception of bacon – a surprise that vegetarians should be made aware of. I enjoyed three vegetable sides: Grilled Asparagus, Sautéed Green Beans and Sautéed Kale. The asparagus was very tasty and cooked perfectly – I wish there had been more of it. The green beans were fresh and crunchy, but not seasoned as well as the asparagus or kale. Some may prefer them to be cooked longer. The kale was excellent, well seasoned and very tasty. I would order each of these sides again.

The first entrée we tried was the Roasted Vegetable Quinoa. As mentioned above, the asparagus were tasty. There were portobello mushrooms atop the quinoa, but the amount of vegetables mixed into the quinoa was disappointing. The portion was generous enough to be filling, but more mixed in vegetables and more seasoning would perk up this dish. Our second dish, Classic Fish and Chips, was a winner. This cod was excellent. The batter breading was not overly greasy, but was a bit thick. There were lots of fries that were well seasoned, only one of us thought they were heavy on the salt. I stole many of these fries and enjoyed them. The Grilled KC Strip (10 oz) was our third plate. The steak was cooked as ordered and full of flavor. The green beans were plentiful, as were the potatoes. Though the green beans were cooked enough, the potatoes were not. The potatoes also lacked adequate seasoning. Overall, each diner was content with his meal. Our server was very attentive and friendly. We also sampled a few of the beers, but this review is about the food!

The Tallgrass Taphouse is located at 320 Poyntz Avenue in downtown Manhattan, KS. They are open daily for lunch and dinner with a weekday happy hour from 3-6pm. Their tap beer selection is impressive and can be viewed on their webpage. Read more about the science behind Tallgrass Brewing in this previous post.

Qdoba Mexican Grill on 3rd Joins Downtown Manhattan Restaurants

Qdoba on 3rd Grand opening

Qdoba on 3rd Grand opening – photo from Qdoba Twitter

October 27th, 2014 was the grand opening of Qdoba Mexican Grill on 3rd Street near historic downtown Manhattan, KS. Located at 320 N. 3rd in the space that used to house Anytime Fitness, Qdoba’s grand opening benefitted the Flint Hills Breadbasket, raising over $4800 in proceeds. Qdoba on 3rd is open daily from 11am – 10pm.

Other Mexican (loosely used) eateries in the area include:  Carlos O’Kelly’s at Manhattan Town Center, Chipotle on Manhattan Ave in Aggieville, CoCo Bolos at Manhattan Ave and Bluemont in Aggieville, La Fiesta Mexican at Kimball and HWY 24, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop at 12th and Laramie in Aggieville, La Hacienda Taqueria off Anderson and Seth Child, Hillside Cafe on Stagg Hill Rd near Galaxy Dr, Taco Bell off HWY 24 and McCall Rd, Taco Casa at 17th and Fort Riley, Taco Johns at 3rd and Leavenworth, Taco Lucha at 12th and Moro in Aggieville, El Tapatio on Stagg Hill Rd near Seth Child, Los Texanos (previously El Mariachi) off HWY 24 near Sarber Ln, and a (seasonal) food truck off HWY 24 south of Kimball. Make sure you keep on top of your ethnic eats and let me know if I missed any!

Clock Shadow Creamery – Urban Cheese Factory in Milwaukee, WI

In the shadow the of Allen-Bradley Clock Tower, at the corner South 2nd and Bruce Street in the historic Walker’s Point neighborhood, lives the Clock Shadow Creamery. One of only a handful of urban creameries in the United States, Clock Shadow opened in 2012 and brings milk in refrigerated trucks from Oconomowoc to produce some tasty cheeses in downtown Milwaukee. Cheeses are available to taste and purchase and “tours” are offered frequently.

Clock Shadow Creamery store

Clock Shadow Creamery store

If you’d like to attend a Clock Shadow Creamery tour, be sure to make reservations ahead of time. The creamery is small and tour group size is limited. You should know ahead of time that you won’t be walking through the actual production area where the cheese is made, though windows from the store and tour room do give a glimpse into the cheese making area. The tour is more of a lecture that lasts about 30 minutes given by one of about 12 store employees. You do not meet any of the ~3 cheese makers. The lecture is aided by 8×10″ photographs and visual props including molds used in production. Guides are great about answering any questions you may have and do thoroughly explain the cheese making process and history of the creamery. Tours cost $3 per adult and $1.50 per kid. For more information, visit the Clock Shadow Creamery website.

Other Milwaukee tour ideas:

 

Dancing Ganesha Now Serving Indian Food in Aggieville

Full dinner menu for Dancing Ganesha in Aggieville

Full dinner menu for Dancing Ganesha in Aggieville

*Update 9/3/14: New Menu available here*

Earlier this week the kitchen opened at Dancing Ganesha (712 Manhattan Ave) in Aggieville and Indian food is now being served for lunch and dinner daily. Dancing Ganesha has been a fixture bar in Aggieville featuring live music performers and drink specials. They announced last year that they would be adding a kitchen and serving food. This is not the first food venture for DG who already have a successful DG restaurant next to St Thomas University in Minneapolis.

Dancing Ganesha is open daily for lunch from 11am to 2pm and have several lunch specials that include chicken, fish, lamb or vegetarian fare with naan and rice. These specials are not listed on the printed menu, which shows options for dinner fare, served 5pm to 9pm. The full menu, pictured right, includes a few basic appetizers, a selection of entrees and two desserts. The drink menu is pictured on their Facebook page along with recent kitchen photos. Though I haven’t yet had a chance to try the food, I’m glad there’s now an Indian restaurant in Manhattan, KS.

A Culinary Stroll through Charleston, South Carolina

Slightly North of Broad bar

Slightly North of Broad bar

We arrived late on a Friday evening. Lucky for us, dining after 9 pm meant no waiting for a table. For our first dinner we chose SNOB – Slightly North Of Broad. We were seated in the back of the dining room with a nice view into the kitchen and were able to watch chefs at work. We started out with a Cheese Plate that included nuts, fruit and bread. It was the highlight of my meal, really good cheeses from Wisconsin, Virginia and elsewhere. The various other bites on the plate really helped balance it out as well.
I ordered a bowl of the daily soup, Tomato Split Pea, and was pleased with the first bite, but then overpowered by onion. My partner got the Trout special and I’m pretty sure I ate more than my fair share of it – very tasty and served with an excellent corn and risotto mash and a few grilled shrimp and squash slices. A basket of bread and cornbread accompanied the meal and we ate it all. Overall the food was good, but the service was quite slow and this would probably not be in my top picks during a return weekend visit.
Outside Jestine's Kitchen

Outside Jestine’s Kitchen

Saturday morning after visiting the city market we walked a few blocks up Meeting Street to Jestine’s Kitchen hoping the line wouldn’t be too long when we arrived. The cool rainy weather was likely why it wasn’t yet packed. In a very short time I had a plate of fried Flounder special with fried okra and mashed potatoes sitting in front of me. Across the table was Crab Cake Blue Plate Special with okra gumbo and mac & cheese. Each bite tasted great and warmed us right up. Don’t miss the fried okra!
Homemade sweet pickles accompanied the meal, my partner ate them all. Jestine’s is a favorite of mine and a local favorite. The prices are reasonable and its good down home cooking – though of course with lots of tempting fried options it’s not really super healthy. This is one of the must-trys, though and they have a dessert shop right next door. I’ve heard the Coca Cola cake is a force to reckon with.
Saturday dinner was a bit of a battle. We didn’t plan ahead enough and without reservations our options at our top choices were limited to a long wait or eating in the bar. For appetizers we grabbed a high top at Blossom. I ordered She Crab Soup, which turned out to be an oniony trap. (I have a slight onion allergy)… P got Buttermilk Fried Calamari, which was tasty, though a bit greasy. Our server was great, but I wish we’d skipped it.
Magnolias bread

Magnolias bread

After 9pm we scored a table at sister restaurant Magnolias. Not feeling so great after the onion soup, I just ordered a small Wadmalaw Field Greens salad and side of Green Beans. P picked the Fresh, Local, & Vegetarian plate, which turned out to be phenomenal. We couldn’t stuff the medley of corn, beans, mashed potatoes, spinach, fried green tomatoes and ? (other veggies) into our faces fast enough. Wow – if you are a vegetarian who appreciates flavor this plate is a must try. It is the “Chef’s selection of the season’s finest vegetables in an Uptown/Down South presentation”.
With wine, beer and the complimentary fresh bread we were unable to accommodate dessert. Our server was exemplary and the couple next to us obviously enjoyed their man too, as they had several interesting conversations with him. We would definitely go back for the vegetarian plate!
Sunday morning for brunch we trekked out to Hominy Grill on Rutledge Avenue figuring there would be quite a wait when we arrived. There was. The sun was out so waiting 45 minutes wasn’t so bad. Previously I had had and greatly disliked the “Nasty Biscuit” sandwich so this time I opted for something a bit more traditional, Country Breakfast – scrambled eggs, grits, fresh ground sausage and toast. This was a much better choice. I would order it again. P got a Grilled Vegetable Omelette with home fries, biscuit and jam. It was a hit and I stole a few potatoes.
Our server was attentive and they really do hustle and bustle about. It’s good food, a light and welcoming atmosphere, but fairly noisy and not very relaxing. This is a solid breakfast place, but the wait and noise may not make it a perfect spot to hit on your relaxing vacation.
Outside Poogan's Porch

Outside Poogan’s Porch

Smart enough to make a reservation for our final dinner, we headed to Poogan’s Porch on Queen Street. This was the most memorable meal of the trip for me. All of the staff were really on point and made us feel very welcome. Our server had a great sense of humor and the food was excellent.
Crab Cakes with fried okra for a starter, double thumbs up. I’m pretty sure it looked like we licked the plate clean. Next it was time for Buttermilk Fried Chicken to make an appearance so P got that with mashed potatoes and slaw. I had Sweet Tea Glazed Salmon with asparagus and lemon mint risotto. I thoroughly enjoyed each bite of my food and his potatoes (he thought they were a bit buttery, but yum, yum, yum). The pairing of the fish with the risotto was really perfect – my compliments to the chef, and the fish was cooked expertly.
Since it wouldn’t be fair to leave the low country without having dessert, we split the peanut butter pie. It was served cold and reminded me of very velvety ice cream, but it was some kind of mousse. I apologize for the photo of an empty plate, but the pie was too good and gone before it could be photographed. Our neighbors heard us raving as we ate it and ordered the same. I would definitely go back to Poogan’s and can see why they’ve become “one of Charleston’s oldest independent culinary establishments”.
brunch dessert - Stars Restaurant - Rooftop and Grill Room

brunch dessert – Stars Restaurant – Rooftop and Grill Room

That sums up our 48 hour culinary journey through Charleston. I’d like to point out a relaxing coffee shop we stopped by twice, Bakehouse Charleston on Bay Street. They have reasonably priced beverages and a few small food items and offer both indoor and outdoor seating. To really relax, try a craft beer while you soak up the afternoon sun.
Inside Bakehouse Charleston

Inside Bakehouse Charleston

For those readers unable to try the true low country flavors in Charleston, check out these local Manhattan Southern flavors: Hibachi Hut and Bourbon and Baker.

Food Review | (The New) Hibachi Hut – Manhattan, KS

This post contains the current full Hibachi Hut menu and reviews several menu items and the restaurant in general. At the end of February Hibachi Hut opened their new downtown location at 429 Poyntz Avenue.

HH bar hibachi hut appetizer menuPreviously, Hibachi Hut was located in Aggieville. This Collegian article explains the closing of the old location and how the new restaurant came into being. Throughout the transition process, Hibachi Hut’s Facebook and Twitter pages have been the go to sources for information about the restaurant. Now that the restaurant is open, they are serving lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.

Pictured left, the appetizer menu offers choices for both carnivores and vegetarians. We ordered the Tiger Wings and Crab Cakes, pictured below with the Abita Amber Cheese Soup (daily special). The wings were good, sweet and spicy, and came with celery sticks. The crab cakes were larger than expected and fresh tasting, but could have been a bit crisper on the outside. I enjoyed the remoulade that accompanied them, but my partner found it a bit garlicky. The beer cheese soup was served with corn bread. The cornbread was phenomenal, better than some I had last week in Charleston. It came with what tasted like a honey butter and that was just tasty. The soup was a bit thick, but this is not a regular menu item.

Tiger Wings, Crab Cakes & Abita Amber Cheese Soup Hibachi Hut soup and salad menu

Appetizers above, Salads & Soups below

To get some greens I ordered a House Salad from the Salads & Soups menu, pictured right. The salad was excellent – fresh lettuce, plump and juicy cherry tomatoes, small toasted bread croutons, big cucumbers – I left off the black-eyed pea relish… I enjoyed the salad a lot, I just wish there had been more of it as it was a very small side salad.  I’d be very interested to find out what the other daily special soups are.
Hibachi Hut Po' Boys and Bombs Sandwich menuFrom the Po’ Boy and Bomb sandwich menu, pictured left, we ordered a Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy (photo below). To my surprise, the sandwich had popcorn shrimp instead of the full size sea creatures I had imagined. This worked really well and made the sandwich much more manageable. The flavoring was good, I just wish the bread had been a bit crisper. The tater tots that came with it were spot on, nice and crispy. I also enjoyed the hushpuppies, though perfectly cooked on the outside, they were slightly dry in the middle. That concludes our food review. With what we ordered above, there was no room left for an entrée (menu below) or a dessert: the famous bread pudding nor the chocolate lava cake. Hibachi Hut Fried Shrimp Po' Boy

All in all we quite enjoyed our trip to Hibachi Hut. Being new to Manhattan, we hadn’t been to the previous version and this was a pleasant surprise. We felt welcomed from entry to exit. The staff was friendly and conscientious and it was clear that everyone wanted the diners to be happy customers. HH entrees

Above is the Entrée menu. If you see something you like, you should catch it while you can since I’ve been told that they plan to change up the menu in about a month or so. Maybe they’ll also expand the dessert menu!

Baan Thai to Open New Thai Noodle Restaurant in Aggieville

[As of March 1, 2014 Thai Noodle is OPEN and the complete menu is pictured below.]

sign being installed at The Thai Noodle - photo by Baan Thai

Sign being installed mid-February at The Thai Noodle – photo by Baan Thai

In November of 2011, Baan Thai Restaurant opened in Manhattan, KS. Since then they have been doing well and accumulated a mass of customer followers. Baan Thai is located at 1620 Ft. Riley Blvd. in the same strip mall that houses the People’s Grocery Coop. The restaurant is modestly sized and often full at peak dining times. Perhaps this success is what led owners to begin work on The Thai Noodle at 1126 Laramie Street (previously Bull Chicks) in Aggieville, which, according to their Facebook page should be opening in the next few days. I visited the spot last week and the outside was in good order – brown paper sheeting still blocked all of the windows. On February 20th they posted an ad on Craigslist to hire servers. Today I called Baan Thai to see if Thai Noodle is open yet. The lady who answered the phone said not yet and that she didn’t know when it would be. Keep your eyes peeled, this ought to be a good one.

post script

Thai Noodle opened on March 1st, 2014. They can be reached by phone at (785) 320-2899.

Full menu below, click on picture to see larger image.