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Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

I never thought I would spend much time in Wichita, Kansas. It just wasn’t a place that was on my radar. However, in the last two years I have found myself in circumstances that have required a few extended stays there.

My first visit to Wichita was over a weekend and included a Saturday visit to a diner, an airshow, a wine bar and a club. By Sunday I felt like I had done it all and after a wander in a more than dead downtown, I gave up and spent the rest of the day watching HBO.

However, a few more visits had me scratching beneath the surface and finding a community friendly to an admittedly hippie soul like mine. Here’s what I found so that on your next visit you can skip the HBO and hit the ground running.

Food and Cafes

While a few restaurants and cafes offer vegetarian or a “healthier” option somewhere on the menu (examples Public or Anchor) I found the real standouts to come down to Lotus Leaf Cafe and The Garden Grill. Both are located downtown and have hours that vary during the day with Lotus Leaf closing early some days and Garden Grill closing for dinner completely on some days. I suggest checking the website before heading that way. Garden Grill’s menu is strictly vegan and there’s often a buffet but I find ordering off the menu preferable. Lotus Leaf offers plentiful vegan and vegetarian options with meat options interspersed on the menu, making it easy to convince a carnivore to come with you if they are hesitant. Both have amazing smoothies and juices.

Speaking of juices and smoothies, I would be amiss to mention that Wichita now has it’s very own Whole Foods on the east side of town. I arrived in Wichita after a few days in Austin, Texas, where Whole Foods is headquartered, and I can’t say that the Whole Foods in Wichita is comparable in item selection to stores in say Austin or Denver, but it does offer a decent takeout selection and loads of other options.

If you are just looking for groceries (and perhaps you are a bit disgruntled at the Whole Foods scene), The Natural Grocer has been around a while in Wichita. Their takeout selection is not so great, but you can get all the yummy groceries and supplements your heart desires!

Yoga Studios

All that food got you geared up for a nice stretch? I hope so because holy crap, yoga classes in Wichita only cost about $10 US a session. Do you know how much they cost in Singapore? Anywhere from 25 to 55 Singapore dollars (that’s $18 to $40 US).

My previous trips to Wichita have had me spending a lot of time with Adrian and Whitney at Siva Yoga. Formerly located downtown, you can now find them in the just east of central neighborhood of College Park. While I enjoyed their flowy classes in a warmish 80 to 85 degree room in the past, this trip I was second trimester pregnant and the thought of being in a heated room, even if it wasn’t Bikram hot, made me want to gag. (Listen to your body, yo!)

This led me to the even more east of central studio, Central Yoga, which is named after it’s location on Central Avenue. First, I hit up the community acupuncture sessions which cost a mere $15. The sessions are drop in, so you don’t have to be exactly on time for Dr. Vicki Dukes, DC to align your qi with her tiny little needles. I left floating on air, came back the next day for a fantastic aligned flow class with Keriann and later that week for an awesome prenatal class with the very knowledgeable Sally Beckett. If you are more into alignment than warm flow, Central Yoga is a great option.

Shopping

If you’re looking to do some shopping, I’d skip the often bragged about Bradley Fair and check out Watermark Books, an independent book store in College Park and RELove, a shop on Woodlawn that sales repurposed furniture and also holds classes to teach you how to repurpose a great find yourself.

Outdoors

While I can’t say I spent much time in nature while in Wichita, I can say that the river area through downtown is nicely kept and good for a stroll or run.

Live music

Live music seemed to radiate from bars and restaurants downtown in the summer evenings. Try Oeno Wine Bar for a start with relaxed jams while you sip a Pinot.

That’s all I have for now on Wichita. Got a secret tip? Let me know in the comments. xx

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Dear Whole Earth Singapore,

I love you.

xx Laura

Whole Earth

Whole Earth

I was taking a graphic design short course in Tanjong Pagar when I found this vegetarian place that specializes in Peranakan and Thai cuisine.

A main with brown rice after tax and service charge was $24, so it’s not particularly cheap. It is, however, healthy and delicious with nice interiors. I even experienced good service.

Penang Redang

Penang Rendang

Brown Rice

Brown Rice

If you are a vegetarian but have always wondered what some of the classic Asian dishes taste like (hello shark fin soup), you must go here. My penang rendang was made of pan-fried mushrooms and had an amazingly meaty texture with the perfect blend of spices.

I took a look at the dessert menu and passed in favor of a green tea ($1.50) at the nearby divey but vegan Loving Hut. Excellent tactic as tea to go at the nearby western coffee stands was $4-$6. People, it’s just hot water and a tea bag I’m after.

Loving Hut

Loving Hut

I figured I was on a roll so the next day I gave Loving Hut a chance.  This was a much less exciting experience. The vegan ocean burger was, shall I say.. disgusting. The lemon ice tea was full of sugar. Why do people pre-load sugar? I really wish they would stop. Singapore does indeed have a sweet tooth that I am missing.

In summary, in two days I had good vegan food and not so good vegan food near Tanjong Pagar.

OMG I just found out that you can get Whole Earth delivered.

Whole Earth is located at 76 Peck Seah St (Tg Pagar MRT Exit A) 

For Reservations:  Tel: 65 6323 3308    

Open Daily.  Operating Hours: Lunch: 11:30am to 3pm (last order at 2:30pm) Dinner: 5:30 to 10pm (last order at 9:15pm

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Oh no! They’ve closed the Singapore Carrefour! Both of them!

Panic. Where am I going to get things?

“Imagine not having a Walmart or a Target to go to,” I tell Leslie back in Texas.

“Yeah, I could see how that would be annoying,” she says.

It’s not that either of us like or philosophically support Walmart, it’s just that sometimes it becomes a necessary evil.

“Can’t you order things online?” Leslie asks.

“No,” I sigh. “Some things you can, but its not like they have an Amazon here.”

“Can you Yelp it?” she suggests.

“Nope no Yelp either,” I answer.

Hopefully someone more business-minded and less lazy than myself will see this as an opportunity.

But alas, this may be an overreaction. Afterall, there’s always the Mustafa Center.

In the heart of little India and open 24 hours, it’s 75,000sq ft of random and not so random items, a hotel, café and supermarket. It is the place to go to buy tomato soap, an engagement ring, an ipad and an eye massager all at 2 am on a Tuesday, emerging three days later after a sensory overload induced psychosis has finally run its course.

That’s right, I said tomato soap, not soup. And yes, an eye massager as well.

Eye massager. Multiple varieties available.

Did you think I was kidding?

In the spirit of Diwali, maybe I’ll head down to little India. Since I’m there anyway, perhaps I’ll pick up a curry, some aspirin and a new laser printer.

If I’m not back by Friday, send a search party out.

Editor’s note: Yelp has answered my plea! Or maybe I was mistaken in the past. Seems like some Singapore places are rated on the site. It’s a start.

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My interior designer friend, Kylie, tipped me off to this place. She had left London and was curious to how the design turned out. The answer is lovely, sleek and spacious featuring communal long tables, marble and fountains.

I’ve been before, but somehow seem to forget about it amongst all the other bakeries and eateries in Soho. I needed to grab a coffee and jot down some notes last Wednesday when all of a sudden it sprang to mind.

I entered and was confronted by what felt like miles and miles of amazing pastries and cakes, then pizzas, pastas and salads. I was in serious dilemma over what to order. I’m not kidding- it took me a good 10 minutes to decide where to spend my calories.

I think I chose well.

Princi, 135 Wardour Street, London, W1F 0UT
Telephone +44 (0)20 7478 8888,
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 08.00-00.00 Sun 08.30-22.00

Breakfast available — 08.00 to 11.00
Weekends — 08.00 to 12.00
Apperitivo — 17:00 to 19:00

Princi on Urbanspoon

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I pass by the Bluebird Cafe on the King’s Road frequently. Often I have stopped to look at the menu, lingered and then walked by. It’s so hard to pass it by with that beautiful courtyard in the budding spring, but I just can’t reconcile it’s price-point on diner food. Erm, I mean, it’s just so Chelsea.

Perhaps it was my recent trip to the Design Museum and my new respect for Terence Conran and his projects, but more likely it was spotting the 2 courses for £10, 3 for £15 sign after a sweaty carb-killing workout that made me finally stop and get a table.

The atmosphere is quite fun with funky chandeliers, hodge-podge chairs and sleek lines. The building itself is an art deco former garage complex built for the Bluebird Motor Company in 1923 that sets the scene perfectly. Despite this, you can’t help but get the feeling that being in a diner to the target clientele here is a novelty.

Funky chandeliers and sleek lines

As a lone diner, I invoked the advice of the server on what to order. She advised that the pumpkin soup was spicy and that the prawn cocktail was popular. She also added that the coley goujons were highly recommended and mumbled when I asked about the spinach gnocchi.

Well, alright then. Lets split the difference. I’ll have the pumpkin soup and the coley goujons. Shit. Did I just order fish and chips? This is not helping me at all towards my goals of a.) losing weight and b.) eating more vegan.

The soup came and the waitress was dead wrong. That pumpkin soup was not spicy. It was actually quite bland save for the pumpkin seeds on top that added an important contrasting texture. The focaccia bread was fresh and soaked up the warm liquid nicely.

Not very spicy pumpkin soup

As for the goujons, they were delicious. I know it’s really hard to go wrong with fried food, but the batter was crisp and light on the tongue if heavy on the stomach. It was a true warm plate of comfort food.

Coley goujons.

There’s something to be said about this style of dining. There is usually some innovation to the dishes and like the decor, the lines of the food are sleek and neat. You are getting something calculated and well presented. But if you want something greasy spoon authentic, this is not it. For a true King’s Road diner with appropriate prices and ennui-ridden waitresses, head to the Stock Pot a few blocks down the road. It’s the kind of place where you can get a decent lunch at 10 am and no one bats an eye. I truly love the Stock Pot for that alone. Plus, a plate of chips there is equally delicious and costs £1.50 compared to the Bluebird’s £4. But if you are treating your girlfriend’s West London mother, new South Kensington business prospect, or random posh friend to a “casual” brunch, this is probably a good bet and chances are you’ll like the food too. Just don’t forget to slyly ask for the 2 for £10 menu, and trust me, you have to ask. Most of the menus conveniently have the insert missing.

The Bluebird Cafe is located at 350 King’s Road near Beaufort Street and is open Mon-Fri 12-2:30, 6-10:30; Saturday 12-3:30, 6-10:30 and Sunday 12-3:30 and 6-9:30.

Bluebird on Urbanspoon

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Courgette Fries from Byron

In case you were wondering, the grilled portobello mushroom burger with roasted red pepper and goat’s cheese was pretty damn good too.

http://www.byronhamburgers.com/

Byron on Urbanspoon

 

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First I saw a blurb about Yalla Yalla on Time Out. Then Gourmet Chick lists it as a top ten cheap eat in London. The very next week, the Hungry Engineer and her husband are visiting London from Austin. They give me a run down of the top places that they’ve eaten so far in London. They do not shut up about the batata harra at Yalla Yalla.

“We know” says April. “It’s weird to say the best thing we’ve eaten is potatoes but they were so good!”

I resolved to scope this Beirut street food venue out.

Yalla Yalla has two locations near Oxford Street. The one I visited is tucked away in Soho in a street that is more of an alley. To find it I cruised down Brewer, poking my head down every street I passed until I finally saw the yellow Yalla Yalla sign. For the record, Green’s Court is between Lexington and Wardour. It’s not a place that you just bump into while not paying attention.

The small cafe was full with people waiting for takeout and eating in. There were a few full outdoor seats as well. The secret is out.

I slipped into the only small empty table and started contemplating my order.

Busy staff behind the counter

Olives and pickles while I contemplate.

I settled on the lunch special – a wrap (I chose halloumi) with a side of hummus. I added an apple mint ginger lemonade. How can you resist a drink like that?

Apple mint ginger lemonade? yes, please.

Hummus and pita bread

Halloumi wrap

I left completely stuffed. I could have done without the hummus and pita bread.

Seriously affordable.

I returned a few weeks later for another halloumi wrap, this time to go. I waited outside as the order was prepared and took my wrap to devour in the park. I’ve really got to make it back again to try out those potatoes.

Yalla Yalla on Green’s Court is open Monday to Saturday 10am – 11pm and Sunday 10am – 10pm.

 

Yalla Yalla Beirut Street Food on Urbanspoon

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I was aching for something cultural and Blair was restless in her painting studio, so we decided to meet up at the Tate Modern to see their permanent collection.

I love modern art museums, but any museum can be a serious marathon. Floor 3 with the surrealists is manageable, but by the time I’m at the Rothkos, I am shifting my weight from leg to leg and adjusting my typically massive bag from one shoulder to the next. This is when we decided we were in serious need of some caffeine and a snack if we were to continue. We headed to the 7th floor restaurant where the views were amazing and the atmosphere stylish.

Restaurant View

Blair, excited for her cake.

Unfortunately, that’s about the only good thing I could say about the restaurant that day. We had really been looking forward to the cake and coffee. The server brought the wrong coffee, and when we did get the right one, it used real milk instead of the soy we had ordered. It was delicious, but I was concerned for anyone lactose intolerant. Then the cake came out. The carrot cake was spicy with a nice cream cheese icing, but the coffee cake was not at all like I had imagined. The sugar was overly intense. I had to scrape all the icing off in order to enjoy any bit of it. Even then I had a hard time tasting the coffee flavours through the sugar. The worst disappoint was that the chocolate covered espresso bean on top wasn’t an espresso bean at all. It was overly sugared espresso bean shaped chocolate. I guess they assume their clientele REALLY like sugar.

The selection

Oh well, I guess everyone has an off day?

Don’t order the coffee cake.

The good thing was that we had the sudden boost of energy we needed to continue on with the museum. We managed to squeeze in the Diane Arbus room right before closing. That is something I can recommend.

The Tate Modern Restaurant is open Sunday – Thursday, 10.00–17.30 and Friday – Saturday, 10.00–21.30

ARTIST ROOMS: Diane Arbus runs until March 31, 2012

Tate Modern Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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It was Friday night and I wanted to check out somewhere new. I had just finished my first week of work and was eager to celebrate legal employment. I remember that Yelp had arranged half-priced drink specials at The Ebury. I was curious about the establishment as I have frequently passed by it. Also (if you believe the hype) Kate Middleton has been spotted there flipping through bridal magazines. I’m not actually a Kate chaser, but I figure when in London…

The Ebury is a classic yet modern restaurant and bar on Pimlico Road. It falls in suit with the other establishments in the area- slightly upmarket without the snootiness of Sloane Square.  If you are a casual person, you might feel out of your zone when you first arrive, but on closer inspection you notice the worn carpet on the stairway and the glitches in the service. In fact, it took some downright effort to get our first drink. We only intended on staying for one or two, but I sent a text message to Cary who had just finished teaching his yoga class and all of a sudden we had company and a great reason to stay. At this point, our 1 drink turned into 3 and the service went from nonexistent to pretty good. Yes, sometimes yoga teachers have cocktails too.

The cocktail menu is extensive and has a lot of area for exploration. The Marilyn  Monroe was a sweet strawberry and champagne mixture. The Strawberry Basil Martini was subtler on the sugar level yet still fruity. The Moulin Rouge was not too sweet with a tropical vibe. Husband had a glass of rose that he winged about at first but then ordered a second. I guess it grew on him.

Moulin Rouge and Marilyn Monroe

With all these cocktails going to my brain, I needed some food. Rather than booking into the restaurant, we shared a massive Mediterranean Meze that included hummus, grape leaf wraps, tzatziki, warm pita bread, olives and other goods. It was enough for 3-4 people and should be for £17.

You might not spot Kate, but if you come between 5 and 7 you might spot me. At £8 – £11 a cocktail, I designate this place strictly for happy hour and the next Yelp special.

The Ebury is located at 11 Pimlico Road, London SW1W 8NA. Happy hour is from 5-7 everyday and includes 2 for 1 priced drinks.

Ebury on Urbanspoon

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I don’t have a sweet tooth so I don’t crave more than the occasional cookie or candy. Even when I do indulge, I will usually only have one or two bites. I would say this is a good thing except I tend to crave the fatty savory foods instead. It is more likely for me to dive into a bag of crips (chips) than a bag of biscuits (cookies).

However, while Rachel was in town we developed the wonderful habit of topping off our meals with a treat. I was getting a welcomed crash course in London pastries and sweets. We just finished a meal in Soho when I remembered that Hummingbird Bakery was around the corner. It had been recommended to me so I suggested we go there.

Cakes and treats at Hummingbird Bakery

Hummingbird Bakery makes American style cakes, cupcakes, brownies and pies and even has a gluten free selection of treats. After much deliberation, Rachel chose a red velvet cupcake and I chose the tiramisu.

Tiramisu

All throughout Rachel’s visit we had been sharing food but we both drew the line here. The tiramisu, which is only available on Wednesdays, was so good that I might have involuntarily bitten off someone else’s fingers if they tried to come near it. That is a huge endorsement from a girl born without a sweet tooth. This may have been the best cupcake I have ever had.

Sorry, Mom.

Hummingbird Bakery has locations in South Kensington, Notting Hill and Soho with a Spitalfields location scheduled to open in May of 2011. Check their website for more location details and hours. http://hummingbirdbakery.com/

Hummingbird Bakery on Urbanspoon

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