Food Review | Cavan – Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA

Cavan First Floor Dining Area & Bar

Cavan First Floor Dining Area & Bar

About two months ago, Cavan opened it’s doors and front patio at 3607 Magazine Street. They are open for dinner nightly beginning at 4pm and offer a weeknight happy hour with specials from 4-6pm. Reservations are accepted for the first floor dining room in this restored 1881 mansion while walk-ins are accommodated on the second floor and patio areas. A history of the building, the “Cockerton House on the Historic Landmarks Commission’s register of national historic places,” is offered on the back of the menu, pictured below. Cavan is a member of the LeBlanc + Smith collection of restaurants.

THE FOOD

Each table receives a small serving of seasoned oyster crackers to accompany the drinks. We gobbled these up, quite tasty. Due to my onion allergy, ordering was slightly restricted, so we only tried two starters: Gulf Tuna Carpaccio and Old Bay Fries with Malt Aioli. The tuna was fabulous, obviously fresh and packed with flavor that shined through the avocado, cucumber, cracked pepper and soy sauce. The portion was generous, but I could have easily eaten two plates of this. The fries were a very thin style of waffle fry, seasoned with a spice mixture. The texture was just right, slightly crisp on the outside and warm and soft inside. The seasoning wasn’t entirely even, as would be expected, so I forfeited the more heavily seasoned fries to my accomplice and we both enjoyed the aioli.

The two dinners we ordered were the Butter-Baked Gulf Shrimp and the Half Roasted Chicken. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, save for one that was charred. They had great flavor and texture, again obviously fresh. The beer, rosemary and lemon sauce was very flavorful, good for dunking the bread hunks. Had I not eaten half of the chicken portion with my shrimp, I may have been left pretty hungry, but … The chicken was also spot on. It was tender and flavorful. The white meat portion seemed very generous and I enjoyed dipping it in my shrimp sauce. My partner enjoyed the dark meat, commenting on it’s juiciness, but added that the pesto sauce wasn’t particularly noteworthy. The salad was large and fresh (again), a great addition to the meal.

Since we couldn’t fill up on starters, we got two desserts: Key Lime Pie and the Daily Layer Cake, today’s was a blue velvet. The pie was very tart, just how I like it, with a good consistency. Again, I could have eaten two of these. The color of the cake was somewhat off-putting, but the flavor was great. I felt it was a little more gooey than ideal, but my partner had no qualms.

Overall, we had an excellent experience at Cavan and would certainly recommend it to others.

At the time I dined, the Cavan menu looked like this:

For more information about the Chefs at Cavan, check out this article from nola.com. There is a discrepancy between what that article says and what was listed on the menu at the time I visited. This Eater article talks a little bit about the restaurant’s opening in February.

Book Review | Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook by Mary Bergin

book cover wisconsin supper club cookbook by mary berginIn Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook, author Mary Bergin takes readers on a tour around approximately 40 local supper clubs. She addresses the question of what a supper club is and serves up historical facts in a very palatable manner, incorporating them within chapters on each restaurant. Added fact boxes at the end of select chapters serve to highlight other related notables. Bergin includes several recipes for most of the included establishments, spanning the whole meal from drinks and appetizers to main courses, sides and desserts. You won’t find many healthy or vegan recipes here though. These foods are more about tradition and include some heavy ingredients, but perhaps some at home tweaking will yield a family favorite. Although some great photos are included, an absence of captions make some images hard to decipher. The photo quality leaves many images visually less than appealing and many appear to be amateur shots. In the introduction the author mentions there being over a hundred supper clubs in Wisconsin, but only about 40 are included. A full list would have made for a treat of an appendix. Overall, the book was enjoyable and is recommended to Wisconsinites interested in local tradition and history or out-of-towners wanting to learn about supper club culture. Check out this book from a library near you.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries to Open in March – Manhattan, KS

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*As of April 9, Five Guys is OPEN. 

In August of 2015 Manhattan’s local paper, The Mercury, published an article about the new building next to Chick-fil-A by Sarber Lane at 518 Tuttle Creek Boulevard that will be housing Five Guys Burgers and Fries. In addition to burgers and fries, the menu includes hot dogs, grilled cheese and veggie sandwiches. The restaurant is proud to be freezer-free, using only fresh ground beef. They offer thousands of burger customizations and use only peanut oil. The Mercury article stated building construction was set to be finished last month, in December, with the Manhattan restaurant opening early this year. According to construction workers on-site, Five Guys is slated to open March 7, 2016.

With over a thousand locations nationwide, the chain has been successful since the first Five Guys opened in Arlington, VA in 1986. It’s popularity in Washington DC has continued and spread across the nation. In 2014 Five Guys opened a franchise in Topeka and they also have restaurants in Lawrence and Kansas City.

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.

Food Review | Café Du Qvondeyz On The Garret – Manhattan, KS

Three months ago, on November 14th, a special new Creole and Cajun restaurant opened in Manhattan. Café Du Qvondeyz On The Garret is located at 3003 Anderson Ave, suite 953 (in the strip mall where the DMV used to be next to Rays West). Chef Que Purdy came from Louisiana to join her daughter who was attending K-State. The Qvondeyz Family has been successfully catering in Louisiana since 1992.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

After hearing great things about the food, I decided to give the place a try. I was also warned that the wait for the food might be longer than expected.

My partner and I split an appetizer of fried green tomatoes. These were very tasty. They were not at all greasy, the cornmeal breading was crispy and mostly adhered to the tomatoes, and the flavor of the tomatoes came through. The remoulade also had great flavor. I would definitely order these again.

As an entrée I ordered the fried Catfish Platter with sides of baked mac & cheese and green beans. The catfish was ok – it didn’t seem as fresh as I’d hoped, but at least did not taste fishy. The green beans were much more flavorful than I’d expected, but were rather cool. The mac & cheese was excellent, very creamy and hot. The toast was buttered and grilled and added to the dish. Maybe next time I would try the blackened catfish instead of the fried.

My partner ordered the Creole Jambalaya. This dish was well spiced and very flavorful. The serving contained a generous amount of chicken and sausage and was a hearty size. I managed to eat about a 1/3 of the rice and my partner still got enough to eat. I was glad that neither onion nor pepper flavor dominated this dish and I would certainly eat this again. Unfortunately, they had run out of corn bread at the time of our visit so we were unable to try it.

The food was the good news of our visit. As for the not so good news… At the time we dined, the kitchen exhaust fan was inoperable which caused a backup of cooking smoke in the dining area. Hopefully this will be fixed soon and will not affect future diners. The restaurant seems inadequately staffed and the waitstaff not yet fully trained. This, too, should improve with time. Because of this staffing issue, the wait for the food was longer than an average diner would consider acceptable. If you are prepared to wait for good southern food, it’s certainly worth a try.

Café du Qvondeyz On the Garret is open daily for lunch and dinner, but closed Sundays. Since I had issues finding the full menu online, I am providing photos below that I took of the menu in the restaurant.

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!

Bella’s Italian Restaurant to Open Location in Manhattan, KS

map of bella's manhattan ks

*Note: as of Spring 2016, the restaurant has closed.*

*Note: as of 11/15 the restaurant is set to open Monday, November 17th.*

*Note: as of 9/16 the restaurant is still in progress and not yet open.*

You may be familiar with Bella’s Italian Restaurant if you’ve eaten at their popular Junction City, KS location. According to co-owner Song Lee, their Manhattan location will be opening in late August (2014) near Ray’s Apple Market West in the old 4 Olives spot at 3033 Anderson Ave. Bella’s serves a range of Italian specialties and their menu can be found online through Urban Spoon.

Co-owners Li Mi and Lee currently operate several Texas Bella’s in addition to the Junction City one. They will be looking to hire staff for the new Manhattan location in the beginning of August. Their chef is already familiar with their Italian dishes as he has been working at the JC restaurant.