Friday, March 16, 2012

Hangar One, Wichita

I have been eating out, and I have been smoking cigars.  I just have not reported for a while because I'm busy.

I have a couple of positive places to recommend in Wichita.  The first is Hangar One.  The first couple of times I visited this restaurant, I wasn't impressed.  That changed with the last visit.  Hangar One is a flying motif restaurant and bar.  The bar is at the top, like a air traffic control tower.  The Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP) had a monthly beer call there.  I can report that the selection of draft was excellent.  It wasn't as numerous as some specialty bars (like Fox and Hound), but the selection was great and varied.  I was impressed with the Moose Drool (a dark ale).  It wasn't too bitter.  I also ate a KC Strip there.  The steak was good quality and properly cooked.  This was a distinct improvement over the last couple of times I had been there.  I can recommend the atmosphere, the beer, and the food.  The music in the bar was a little loud, but it didn't prevent conversation.  Prices were also reasonable.

I'll also mention the new Lakeside club.  I had a meal and a Martini there with the regular copilot.  The meal was great and the prices very good for the quality.  This is a private club.  The know how to shake a drink and the drinks are large.  The portions were large too.  In addition, the Lakeside club has live music and a place to dance.  The music was very danceable.  I was impressed by the bar tending at Lakeside--the bartender mixed my Martini wrong, but corrected it right away.  Very good bar tending.

I'm smoking a Baccarat cigar, a box I won at a Texas Hold'em tournament.  The cigar is pleasant, but is very sweet.  The taste of the tobacco is especially sweet.  I suspect it is a flavored cigar.  It isn't unpleasant, and doesn't have a flavored taste to the draw.  It's an unusual cigar.  I likely wouldn't have bought it for myself, but any winnings are pleasant.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Osaka and The Doughnut Hole, Destin, Florida

I'll give you two in one: Osaka and The Doughnut Hole.  I've been to Osaka many times.  Osaka is an outstanding Japanese restaurant on the Emerald Coast.  It has both a hibachi and a sushi area.  We ate in the sushi area on this visit.  Even if you don't like sushi, Osaka has Japanese food you will like.  Everything I've had there has been excellent and authentic.

Almost everyone drank hot saki, and we all reported that it was pleasant.  About half had sushi and half had a hot meal.  One of our group ordered the beef curry and reported that it was excellent.  Another ate the beef terriaki and gave that a thumbs up. 

I had the Chirashi sushi.  I've had it before, and it is consistently the best Chirashi I've had on the east coast.  A Chirashi is shashimi (raw fish) and other sushi toppings served over sushi rice.  Actually, the rice is the sushi.  The stuff on top is the topping on the sushi rice.  This Chirashi has always been excellent.  I've never been disappointed.  The prices at Osaka are at the higher end, but everything on this side of the bridges is more costly.

Visit Osaka, you will enjoy it.

For breakfast, we went to The Doughnut Hole.  This place was packed on the weekend.  It was packed this morning (Monday).  It is small but wonderfully decorated with real wood everywhere.  The coffee is freshly ground and excellent.  I had a doughnut and coffee.  Everyone else, except Bun had a real breakfast.  When I say a real breakfast, I mean a real breakfast.  Even the diet plate was heaped full.  Here is a photo proof of what a "real" breakfast pastry looks like.
The photo is Bun and the Apple Fritter, or Bun and the Very Large Bun.  My doughnut wasn't this large.  Still for a hearty breakfast, check out The Doughnut Hole.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hog Heaven, Shalamar, Florida

Okay guys if you are looking for an unbelievable amount of food for a lunch time price, you have to visit Hog Heaven in Shalamar, Florida.  This is a barbecue joint of unparalleled quality.  It has character and the food there is of a superior character.  Now, I have to warn you, this is man food.  If your sweet love doesn't mind man food in a man food joint, go for it, but otherwise...don't take them along.

We ordered the onion rings and the jalapeno poppers.  The onion rings were the size of Phillis Diller's bracelets.  A country girl might even use them for bracelets.  There were enough to feed all five at our table and each one was like eating a whole onion.  The were perfectly fried and excellent man food.  The jalapeno poppers were filled with some kind of good gooey stuff.  The point of identification isn't important, the taste is--they tasted great and were hot (fire and spice).

I had the pulled pork sandwich.  It was "can't put down food."  That is, it was so packed that once I got it together, I was afraid to put it back down, because I wouldn't have been able to get my hands around it again.  Definitely man food.  I had the fried okra with it.  The made it a side for me.  It was about the best restaurant okra you are going to get.  I was pleased all the way around. 

I need to mention the sweet tea--perfect sweetness and lots of it flowing.  Your kidneys will be happy.

I'm going to feature my buddy's lunch too.  Here's a picture of the Home Wrecker Dog:
The dawg is 12 inches long.  We aren't sure why it's called a home wrecker:  the gas production, the comparisons, the man food?  We aren't certain, but it's gooood.  And this is a real representative of Hog Heaven at the extreme.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Aegean Restaurant Miramar Beach Florida

Now we are talking.  At the Aegean in Miramar Beach, Florida.   Back to my stomping grounds and a restaurant I haven't visited before.  This place is really good.  We ordered a couple of bottles of inexpensive Greek wine.  There were four on the "by the glass" menu.  The Greek house wine was very nice, very fruity, and very Greek.  It was like a taste of the country.

The food was likewise very good to excellent.  I had the special, Lamb Souvlaki.  It came on rice with spiced yogurt and flat bread.  An Americanized-Greek salad was included in the meal.  The lamb was tender, cooked exactly the way I like it, and especially tasty.  It was the best quality lamb I've had in a long time.  The other parts of the meal were fresh and properly spiced.  I was impressed and highly recommend the Aegean.  For a tourist area, the prices were excellent and the service was good.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yamoto Fort Walton Beach

I'm going to lose track of all the places I've been eating, but I'll try to keep up and keep you apprised.  I've been going to Yamoto for 15 years or so.  It is a Sushi and Hibachi Japanese style restaurant on the Eglin Parkway in Fort Walton Beach.  The sushi is the best, but you won't go wrong with the Hibachi.  The prices are home town and not vacation subscription.

We ate at the Hibachi and had a great chef.  I had the Hibachi steak and a spicy tuna hand roll.  The Hibachi was less than $20 and the food was overwhelming.  It was good quality.  The spicy tuna hand roll was perfect with firm fresh tuna and a nice spicy sauce.  I want another one right now--that's how good it was.  I think I'll go for the sushi next time and tempura to check that out.

No one had a bad meal and the company was pleasant.  Even better, Yamotos is really trying hard to create some atmosphere, all their waitresses wore Yukatas with sashes--kind of fake Kimonos, but most Americas won't notice the difference.  The effect was nice.  Yamotos is a great restaurant.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Arnold Palmer's in Palm Desert

Still reminiscing about my trip.  We went to Arnold Palmer's for dinner on our last night.  The atmosphere was upscale and pleasant.  The walls are covered with pictures of Arnold Palmer and his greatest moments.  My BiL is a real golfer, so he knows all the stories and was a wealth of information about Arnold.  The bathroom has a score card of Arnold's best game ever.  It's golf stuff. 

Still, if you don't like golf, the food is great.  The wine menu is adequate and the wines are good with a great variety.  I had a Brut split with my appetizer.  The split wasn't that bad, but it wasn't as good as the split I can get back in Wichita at WCC or the Candle Club.

I had a bowl of crab bisque for an appetizer.  The bisque was great, but the crab was sparse.  I can get a great bisque anywhere, but one with sufficient meat is rare.  Enough said.

I had the lamb chops as an entree.  They were excellent, but only two and the plate was bare.  I also shared a plate of mashed potatoes.  They were very good, but mashed potatoes are mashed potatoes.  If you mess them up, you are an idiot.

So, I liked Arnold Palmer's.  I'll go again, but they aren't that special.  The meats are well prepared and properly prepared, but don't expect anything special or unusual.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tommy Bahama's Palm Desert

Okay, we like Tommy Bahama's for the cocktails, but the food is great too.  It's not as great as it once was, but it is still very good.  When we are in Destin, FL, we always go to Tommy Bahama's.  When we went to Palm Desert, CA, we had to try it out.  We liked the cocktails--we went twice. 

On the first occasion, I had a coconut cocktail thing that was delicious.  I also had a Vodka martini and that was great too.  I ate the 20oz. Porterhouse.  I know, I should have had seafood, but I'm just jaundiced toward sushi.  The Porterhouse was excellent.  I didn't take any home for lunch.  I can't remember what the regular copilot or the others had, but I do know, I'll go back.  Tommy Bahama's is a consistently great restaurant.  It isn't the top of the line, but it isn't average.  It is really great food in a really great atmosphere.  Did I say there was live music.  Always live music at Tommy Bahama's. 

The second occasion, we went after eating dinner at Arnold Palmer's.  I'll write about that experience later.  I had a BBC--very nice and rich drink.  The regular copilot had a Lemon Drop martini.  I was good for her.  Someone had the Key Lime pie.  I was happy with the drinks.  Go to Tommy Bahama's, it's a great and fun place--you can't go wrong.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Castelli's Palm Desert

Still in Palm Desert -- actually, I'm back and reminiscing.  We visited Castelli's Italian Restaurant in Palm Desert, CA.  This is a fantastic restaurant.  The service is personable, the wine list is extensive, and the food is wonderful.

Since we had been overextending with appetizers, we went for the entrees early.  I wish I'd tried one, but when you are eating out all the time, you don't want to ruin the meal with too much.  I had the Godfather's Dinner: PRANZO DEL PADRINO.  Described as "The Best of 3 Worlds! Tenderloin Beef Spiedini, Shrimp Scampi and Vitello alla Piccatina."  Hey, this really was the best of the three.  This way I could try a selection of their Italian fare.  It was a great choice.  The meal comes with a pasta dish.  The basic pasta offered was with a marina sauce.  I chose the Fettuccine Alfredo.  It's supposed to be their signature pasta. 

The Fettuccine Alfredo was stupendous.  I'm a fan of white sauce (Northern Italian cuisine) and this was excellent.  The pasta was homemade and the sauce tasted very rich and buttery--perfect.  The focus of the restaurant was more Southern Italian, but I was pleased with the choices and the meal.

The presentation of the meal was excellent.  The three meats were placed artfully on the plate.  The scampi was like a lobster and very good.  The veal was slightly over spiced, but authentic.  The tenderloin was cooked properly and a great cut.  I took the leftovers back for lunch and a very pleasant lunch it was.  I can't remember what everyone else ate, but I was very pleased with my meal.

We ordered a bottle of their house Italian Chianti--it was a great choice.  We also had the after dinner Cappuccino Roma.  It was pleasant, but I liked the dinner best.

I was also pleased with the service.  You can't go wrong at Castelli's--I want to go again.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Armando's Mexican Restaurant in Palm Desert

I'm still in Palm Desert, California.  You'll find Armando's Bar and Grill on El Paseo in Palm Desert--that's the main drag.  Just taking a leisurely stroll down the street is a great pastime.  You'll find every store imaginable--prices, that's something else. 

But when you are ready to eat, try Armando's.  You'll save bucks and have a great meal.  The Margaritas were recommended to us.  There is a house limit of three.  The reason is they are the strongest Margaritas I've ever tasted.  You won't find many other Margaritas more powerful unless they just add tequila to the ice.  They were everything they were described to be.  You need to try them.

The menu is classic and the food excellent.  There are all your favorites and some Mexico City norms.  The TexMex usual is all there, but the quality is excellent and the amounts are uncommonly large.  We had a concaso appetizer that was filled with sausage and cheese.  It was a meal in itself.  The regular copilot had a shrimp cocktail that was more akin to a ceviche with shrimp and tomato sauce.  It was equally excellent. 

The ladies ordered fish tacos and the gentlemen chimichangas.  Half of a chimichanga was plenty--they were completely filled with shredded beef and chicken.  We had enough for two lunches.

If you want a great TexMex meal with excellent service and at a reasonable price, you should visit Armando's.  You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Grill-a-Burger Palm Desert California

I'm reporting from Palm Desert, California on a trip for fun and golfing.  I flew my aircraft out to Scottsdale on Sunday, then to Palm Desert on Monday.  You should be able to see the updates on the flights at after I get back.

We went to a great Italian restaurant in Scottsdale, but I couldn't appreciate it--the golf course drink lady made WCC H2Os that were more like triples.  Holy smoke.  I was trying out some new golf clubs--they help, but not really enough.

The first night in Palm Desert, we went to Grill-a Burger in the Plaza de Monterey.  Okay, if like hamburgers, this is the place for you.  I'm not an especial fan, but if it has avocado on it, I can't help myself.  This place has a Holy Moly! burger with guaca that is awesome.  I also ordered sweet potato fries and avocado fries for the table.  I've never had avocado fries--they were great.

Our waiter was great.  Our food was great.  I recommend Grill-a-Burger just for the fun menu and the place.  It's a hole in the wall.  By the way, the hamburgers are large.  The regular copilot split hers with our other lady traveler--good choice.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Newport Grill

Here is a new restaurant review.  I promised something new.  Newport Grill in Wichita, Kansas is one of my favorites.  It has the best martinis in the city and the bar tenders know how to make them properly.  They stuff their own olives with blue cheese and then know to shake them the proper amount of time.

On this visit, I had a straight vodka martini with potato vodka (they have a great variety of alcoholic beverages).  The regular copilot had the Black and Blue--that's a very dirty martini with stuffed blue olives.  I like the stuffed blue olives too just no dirty in my vodka.  The martinis were excellent, as usual, and consistent. 

We also had the steak tartar, tuna tartar, shrimp cocktail, and ceviche.  These are all appetizers.  So, we like appetizers especially raw ones.  The steak tartar was excellent.  We always ask for more toast points, mainly because we like them and secondarily because the second batch is usually softer, and I like them softer.  The regular copilot likes them crustier.  The steak tartar at Newport Grill is European style.  I mentioned before the steak tartar at The Candle Club is American style.  I like them both.  European style tends to have more spices in the steak and usually capers and onions.

The tuna tartar has fried crisps with it.  The flavor was excellent.  Their ceviche is more prepared than I like it.  The best US ceviche I've had was at Ruth's Crisp.  Newport Grill's was pleasant, but not my favorite.  The shrimp cocktail was typical and US style.  It's one of the regular copilot's favorites. 

All in all this was a pleasant evening.  We sat at the bar, but if you want to get a table, make reservations.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Birthday Cigar

I didn't eat anywhere of real note on my trip, so I don't have any new restaurants to report.  I do have a cigar update.  I received an ATF Garcia and Garcia Limited Edition My Father cigar for my birthday.  I smoked it while drinking cappuccino and Remi Marten XO Cognac.

I prepared the cigar with a 3/8 inch punch and lit it slowly with a wooden match. The cigar was very robust.  It was a rich cigar with a very even burn.  It tasted of strong coffee and cocoa and was a powerful cigar.  It was a perfect dessert cigar.  I can't recommend it to the mellow smoke crowd, but for those who like a strong cigar, it was perfect.  It was a long lasting smoke, but did not taint the pallet so much that it stayed with me for hours.

The cappuccino and Cognac went perfectly with it.  My thanks to the gift bearers who provided me a great cigar.

Remember, if you want to try Cognac, always drink it from a brandy snifter.  This is true of brandy and any similar liqueur.  You will not be pleased, or you will be more pleased by the drink if you have it in the proper glass.  This is also true for many liqueurs.  A splash in a tall glass does not bring out the essential aromas of the drink.     

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Repeats and a Promise

I haven't been going anywhere new for a while--that's my excuse.  I've been to the Wasabis on the east side every Friday for the last few weeks.  I even took a whole group there--I can't help that I need a sushi fix every week.  I'll tell you I've set on a couple of dishes as the perfect combo for the winter.  I can't remember the name of the dinner Japanese bento boxed meal.  It typically comes with tempura, fish or meat, pickles, sushi, shashimi, sweet fruit, and rice.  A bento is a lunch meal in a box (typically cold), while the dinner is a typically hot and cold mix.  To make one at Wasabis you just order the sushi combo A and one of the boxed dinner meals.  I like teriaki beef--ask for it medium rare and it comes close to a real Japanese dinner.  Wasabis could be more of a "yes" restaurant, but it is not bad.  For example, they won't make special rolls or allow mixtures of shashimi on their main shashimi set.  So, I'm stuck in a rut.  I like hot and cold especially for dinner in the winter and of course, I must have hot saki.  The Japanese culture is fantastic at keeping the hot and cold part of a meal in balance.

I also had steak tartar at the Candle Club again during Cigar Night.  I confirmed that a small brut Flexinet is the best with steak tartar and the Candle Club's steak tartar is one of the best.  I smoked a couple of high end Partagas that night and I'm smoking a Partagas number 10 right now.  Plus, the Candle Club does a great job making drinks just the way I like them.

I will be going to Oklahoma City soon and will try some dining there.  I hope to give a report on some new restaurants.  That's my promise.  I'll get to some other restaurants in Wichita soon--that's the plan.  Until them--great eating, drinking, and cigars.