Posts tagged with Dining

Pachamamas: The last supper

I took an extra-long pause, may or may not have sighed out loud, and lifted my fork. A mouthful of smoked chocolate shortcake and a sip of port later, I’d had the last bite of the last course of my last meal at Pachamamas on Saturday night.

After 15 years in Lawrence, Pachamamas ran its last dinner service on Valentine’s Day, and I’m a little misty about its closing. For me, and I’m sure a lot of other people in this town, Pachamamas was not only about fine food but also an experience.

As fellow restaurateur Matt Hyde of 715 noted this week, Lawrence’s food scene owes a lot to Pachamamas and chef/owner Ken Baker. “The whole idea of thoughtful, local, regional cuisine?...The notion of a refined dining experience that was still fun? That’s Ken and Pachamamas.”

The foodie movement has gotten big in the past couple of years, but the things people love about it have been happening at Pachamamas for a long time.

Baker was doing amuse-bouche before it was cool. Plates were always meticulously presented to show off the colors and textures of food. Pachamamas menu changed with every season, and Ken’s dishes maximized the variety of ingredients and flavors the world (often specifically our part of the world) had to offer. He combined sometimes lengthy lists of unexpected things — the kind of combinations some newer restaurants that are trying a little too hard attempt but can’t quite make work — and always hit it on the head.

For example, take the second course of our Valentine’s Day dinner: Compressed Beets and Ember-Roasted Strawberries with Fried ‘Milk,’ Hazelnut, Candied Bacon. We were blown away — these things were clearly meant to be. Especially when the pinot noir got involved!

Pachamamas had great burgers and affordable lunches, but for me that kind of attention to detail and thoughtfulness made it a favorite place for take-your-time dinners or more special occasions.

That’s where I went in college when my parents came to town to take me out for a meal to celebrate my birthday; where I met some of the most interesting people sitting community-style during Scotch, wine or Free State Beer dinners; and where my husband and I surprised my mom with the news she was going to be a grandma.

Last week my husband surprised me when he told me he’d arranged for grandma to watch that baby because we had Valentine’s Day dinner reservations — at Pachamamas.

We had the best time, part of which was oohing and ah'ing over our food. With the combination of last day, Valentine's Day and the news it was closing being out for a while, there’s no doubt Pachamamas could have booked more reservations, squeezed people in shoulder to shoulder. But they didn’t, and that was nice. Pachamamas, after all, has a dining experience to maintain, the kind that makes good memories.

Valentine's Day menu

Valentine's Day menu by Sara Shepherd

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Pachamamas to help celebrate customer’s 100th birthday before it closes

For the last five years, Topeka resident Betty Jane Moore has celebrated her birthday with dinner at her favorite restaurant: Pachamamas in downtown Lawrence.

This year, she's turning 100, and though the big day officially falls on Feb. 24, Moore and her family have scheduled reservations at Pachamamas for Saturday.

The iconic Lawrence eatery will close its doors for good this Valentine's Day, and the soon-to-be centenarian was more than willing to have her birthday dinner there a few weeks early, says Hilary Edwards, Moore's granddaughter.

"We've been calling it bittersweet," Edwards says."It's so wonderful to celebrate her birthday there, but to never be able to go again... What are we going to do next year when she turns 101?"

Edwards, who started the tradition when Moore turned 95, says the staff at Pachamamas has always treated her grandmother "like royalty." Former Pachamamas pastry chef Jay Tovar-Ballagh, now at Hank Charcuterie, made her a special dessert every year and always stepped out of the kitchen to wish Moore a happy birthday.

On Saturday, Ken Baker will also create a special dish for Moore based on her favorite flavors (probably a mixed grill of beef, pork and salmon, he says) as will current Pachamamas pastry chef Sam Hupp.

Knowing that Moore and her family chose to celebrate her 100th birthday at his restaurant, despite its closing weeks before the actual day, is "amazing," Baker says.

"It's difficult for me to hear that, but at the same time, it makes me feel pretty good about what we've been doing the last 15 years," he says. "From the outside looking in, I've realized there's a lot of people who really care about this place."

Betty Jane Moore, shown here with former Pachamamas pastry chef Jay Tovar-Ballagh on her 97th birthday, is celebrating her 100th birthday at the restaurant a few weeks early this year.

Betty Jane Moore, shown here with former Pachamamas pastry chef Jay Tovar-Ballagh on her 97th birthday, is celebrating her 100th birthday at the restaurant a few weeks early this year. by Photo courtesy of Hilary Edwards

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Port Fonda officially coming to Lawrence

After months of speculation, it's finally official: Port Fonda is coming to Lawrence.

The popular Mexican eatery has generated quite the buzz since turning a food truck into a restaurant two and a half years ago in Kansas City's Westport neighborhood. Now, Port Fonda will expand into Kansas with a location at 900 New Hampshire St., slated to open in late summer 2015.

Jamie Davila says he and fellow co-owner Patrick Ryan signed the lease Thursday morning. They "peeked around in some places in KC," but ultimately found Lawrence to be the best fit.

"We're really excited about the growth in Lawrence and what's happening there," Davila says, pointing out the Ninth Street Corridor project. "It's a cool city that we're both familiar with."

Kansas City-based architect and KU alum Matthew Hufft of Hufft Projects has signed on to design the space, which will sit inside the newly constructed Marriott Towneplace Suites building at Ninth and New Hampshire streets.

At just over 5,000 square feet, the Lawrence location is just about the same size as its predecessor, but will have a "completely different" look, Davila says.

Enchiladas de Pollo at Port Fonda

Enchiladas de Pollo at Port Fonda by Landon Vonderschmidt Photography/Contributed Photo

Of course, there will be a large bar" serving up margaritas, Mexican beers and hopefully, Davila says, some products from Lawrence's Free State Brewing Co.

As for the food, expect some small tweaks to Port Fonda's KC menu. Davila says they'll probably offer more casual fare like sandwiches and tacos.

"The menu will be a little different, but at the core will be the same," he says. "I think it translates really well to a college town."

Tips welcome!

Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at jhlavacek@ljworld.com or contact me on Twitter @hlavacekjoanna. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Boulevard brings back Chocolate Ale

Back by popular demand, Boulevard Brewing Co. is re-releasing its limited-edition Chocolate Ale this month.

A collaboration between K.C. chocolatier Christopher Elbow and Boulevard brewmaster Steven Pauwels, the exotic brew incorporates nibs of, or crushed, roasted cocoa beans.

Originally intended as a one-time release back in 2011, Chocolate Ale has since developed something of a cult following. In fact, in 2014 and 2015, Boulevard brewed as much of it as possible without interfering with production of other seasonal and year-round beers, the company says.

Hundreds of kegs containing the chocolatey stuff will start arriving at Kansas City-area bars and restaurants today. Deliveries to liquor stores will begin Tuesday.

The Burger Stand already has it on tap, from the looks of this Facebook post. No word yet on where else to find Chocolate Ale in town, but we'll keep you posted.

Update: Merchant's Pub & Plate plans to tap several kegs of Chocolate Ale, but probably won't be able to begin serving it until later this week, says Merchants chef and owner TK Peterson. The following bars and stores are confirmed to have Chocolate Ale in stock/on tap right now: Cork and Barrel (both locations), On the Rocks, Dempsey's, Red Lyon Tavern, Six Mile Tavern and Frank's North Star Tavern.

Tips welcome!

Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at jhlavacek@ljworld.com or contact me on Twitter @hlavacekjoanna. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.

Boulevard Brewing Co.'s popular Chocolate Ale will return to restaurants, bars and retailers in early February.

Boulevard Brewing Co.'s popular Chocolate Ale will return to restaurants, bars and retailers in early February. by Photo courtesy of Boulevard Brewing Co.

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Culinary collective Lawrence Local Table to host first dinner event

Lawrence Local Table, a collective of area culinary professionals, is slated to serve up its first dining event, "The Cellar Supper," next month at 715 restaurant.

Billed as a "celebration of Midwestern Winter Fare," it's the first collaborative meal from the group, which includes Vaughn Good and Juan Carlos Tovar-Ballagh of Hank Charcuterie, Louis Wigen-Toccalino from Decade, and Zach Thompson and Katrina Weiss of 715.

As of now, the seven-course dinner will feature locally sourced delicacies such heirloom corn levain with whipped lardo and fermented bean, and will be held at 715 (715 Massachusetts St.) on Feb. 3.

Guests are invited to show up between 5 and 6 p.m. for an open-bar reception, and the first course should be on the table by 6:30 p.m., says 715's Zach Thompson.

Tickets cost $75 per person, including drinks. To reserve seats, shoot an email to lawrencelocaltable@gmail.com, call 715 at 856-7150 or purchase tickets online through Lawrence Local Table's website.

Cellar Supper menu

Cellar Supper menu by Contributed Photo

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Chefs to host tribute to Pachamamas on Thursday

"Soigne as Fudge," Pachamamas' sold-out dinner slated for Thursday evening, isn't farewell, promises Ken Baker.

The event, billed as a "tribute to Pachamamas" comes on the heels of the announcement of the restaurant's likely closing. Last month, chef/owner Baker told the Journal-World he would close Pachamamas if a buyer isn't found.

"I’m not trying to say goodbye," he says. "It’s a different era."

Nor is it a eulogy to the restaurant, as its name suggests.

He sees the seven-course dinner (priced at $125 per person, including wine pairings, plus tax) as a celebration. Nine of Baker's foodie friends helped create the menu, and come Thursday, will make the trip to Pachamamas to cook it.

"It's a tribute to all the people who have worked here, all the customers, all the chefs who are passionate about food," says Baker, who is excited to reunite with Pachamamas alums and culinary peers.

The list of participating chefs includes some pretty big names from the area's restaurant scene. James Beard Award winner Colby Garrelts (Kansas City's Bluestem and Rye restaurants) and chef Howard Hanna (Ça Va and The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange in K.C.), are among those preparing food. Former Pachamamas sous chefs Vaughn Good (Hank's Charcuterie) and Quillan Glynn (Pizzabella in K.C.) are also participating.

Thursday's soiree will include a reception with the chefs at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. If you didn't snag tickets, Baker says to make sure to stop by Pachamamas sometime soon. The restaurant will remain open full-time until Valentine's Day.

"Our client base is really important to me," he says. "I'd like to see as many of them as possible."

Pachamama's chef Ken Baker.

Pachamama's chef Ken Baker. by Nick Krug

Tips welcome!

Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at jhlavacek@ljworld.com or contact me on Twitter @hlavacekjoanna. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.

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Hank Charcuterie hosting free butchering demonstrations

In case you’ve forgotten, that burger you’re eating came from a living, breathing animal.

Obvious, we know, but in this day and age, when you can pick up a bag of precooked chicken tenders from the grocery store or chow down on paper-thin slices of turkey at Subway, it’s easy to forget how meat makes that journey from the farm to our tables.

The folks at Hank Charcuterie, 1900 Massachusetts St., are inviting the public to experience part of the process with free butchering demonstrations.

Demand for classes has been so great that owner Vaughn Good decided to simply make the shop’s regular butcherings open to visitors.

“It’s something we do anyway. We’re always breaking down whole animals,” Good says. “People can ask questions and request certain cuts directly off the animal.”

Good and his sous chef, Jay Tovar-Ballagh, supervise the demonstrations at 6 p.m. every other Tuesday and at 3 p.m. every other Saturday. On Tuesdays, they butcher a whole hog; on Saturdays, a whole lamb and/or goat.

They’ve only hosted two classes so far (the next are scheduled for this evening and Saturday) but Good says the response has been positive. People, it seems, are curious to know where their food comes from.

The first demonstration drew just one visitor, while the second attracted a diverse “mix” of about eight people, he says.

Last week, Vaughn hosted the young daughter of one of his regular customers. It was her idea to watch the butchering, and she had her father bring her along.

“She did pretty well,” Vaughn recalls.

Hank will also run specials on food items and products from the counter during the demonstrations. For more information, including a full schedule, check out their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Tips welcome!

Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at jhlavacek@ljworld.com or contact me on Twitter @hlavacekjoanna. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.

Vaughn Good opened Hank Charcuterie just over a week ago at 1900 Massachusetts St. The shop — specializing in charcuterie products made from Kansas-raised animals that are butchered in-house — offers meats including lamb, goat, duck, chicken and pork. Hank also offers daily sandwich specials.

Vaughn Good opened Hank Charcuterie just over a week ago at 1900 Massachusetts St. The shop — specializing in charcuterie products made from Kansas-raised animals that are butchered in-house — offers meats including lamb, goat, duck, chicken and pork. Hank also offers daily sandwich specials. by Richard Gwin

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What are Lawrence’s most iconic drinks? Help us decide

In August of this year, the Journal-World (with ample help from readers) assembled a list of Lawrence's top 10 food wonders. A few months later, the popular project has spawned a spinoff: drinks. And we're going to need your assistance once again.

We're looking for libations, alcoholic or otherwise, that have proven to be among the tastiest, most original and most beloved in the Lawrence community. Remember, this means a specific drink, not simply "the coffee at La Prima Tazza" or "the beer at Free State."

The nominees must meet certain criteria:

• Has it been around a while? Think at least five years or more.

• Is it unique to Lawrence? Drinks from chains — unless they started here — will not be considered.

• Is it popular? Is it well-known within the community?

• Is it good? Obviously, taste is subjective, but you get the idea. These aren't necessarily the "best-tasting" drinks in the city — we're looking for the most iconic.

Here are a few of suggestions we've received via Twitter so far. Chime in to help us decide which of these should make the cut, which shouldn't and what's missing. You can comment below, on Facebook, by email and Tweeting @lcom or @hlavacekjoanna. Cheers!

• Brazilian Lemonade at La Parilla

• Ginger Smash at Eighth Street Taproom

• Schooners at Louise's Downtown/Louise's West

• Ad Astra Ale at Free State Brewing Company

• Wheat State Golden beer at Free State Brewing Company

• Moscow Mule at The Bourgeois Pig

• Dirty Banana at The Sandbar

• Shark Attack at The Sandbar

• Bloody Mary at Louise's West

• Sangria at Henry's Upstairs

Tips welcome!

Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at jhlavacek@ljworld.com or contact me on Twitter @hlavacekjoanna. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.

Schooners of beer (Bud Light, at left, and Free State Ad Astra Ale) at Louise's Downtown, 1009 Massachusetts St.

Schooners of beer (Bud Light, at left, and Free State Ad Astra Ale) at Louise's Downtown, 1009 Massachusetts St. by Sara Shepherd

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John Brown’s Underground serving weekend brunch; Limestone Pizza now open Sundays

Speakeasies may not be known as brunch destinations, Kate Brubacher admits, but she's hoping to change that at John Brown's Underground, 7 E. Seventh St.

The bar is now in its third week of offering brunch to customers, says Underground manager Brubacher, who explains the move as a way to boost food sales on weekends.

So far, she says, the response has been huge.

The brunch menu, available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, features a handful of inventive breakfast-sandwich options, from the Jam on JB (eggs, plus fig or raspberry jam with meat and cheese on Texas toast) to the Mac Stack, a mixture of eggs, macaroni and cheese bites, and meat and cheese on Texas toast. There's also the Bourbon Bacon Waffle — Brubacher's favorite — and something called "French Toast in a Jar."

As always, booze is readily available — though the meals come with a choice of coffee, orange juice or tomato juice.

• • •

Popular downtown eatery Limestone Pizza is now open on Sundays, co-owner Debbie Rascoll says.

Plenty of downtown businesses are open Sundays, she says, so why not Limestone? Rascoll hopes the expanded hours will better accommodate "late risers" from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Don't expect the pizza joint to turn into a full-fledged pancake house, though. Limestone is sticking with what it does best, mostly. In lieu of an official menu, the restaurant offers rotating specials like biscuits-and-gravy pizza and other brunch-y creations.

"We're not trying to be a breakfast place," Rascoll says. "We're starting small, trying to figure things out right now."

Bahn Mizza at Limestone Pizza Kitchen + Bar

Bahn Mizza at Limestone Pizza Kitchen + Bar by Sara Shepherd

Tips welcome!

Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at jhlavacek@ljworld.com or contact me on Twitter @hlavacekjoanna. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.

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BurgerFi now open in downtown Lawrence

A meal from BurgerFi, featuring the restaurant's hand-dipped, freshly prepared onion rings. 
Photo courtesy Charlie Guzzetta/BurgerFi

A meal from BurgerFi, featuring the restaurant's hand-dipped, freshly prepared onion rings. Photo courtesy Charlie Guzzetta/BurgerFi by Joanna Hlavacek

A bright-green sign has adorned the windows at 918 Massachusetts St. for at least six months now, promising us a new hamburger joint called BurgerFi in the space formerly occupied by Chutney’s Indian Diner and Bar. Today, it appears, is the day BurgerFi makes good on that promise.

Franchise owner Josh Kurzban confirmed the news this morning. The restaurant opened at 11 a.m. today, he says, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce is planned for tomorrow afternoon at 4:30.

The Florida-based chain has about 40 locations nationwide, clustered mostly on the East Coast and in Texas. The Massachusetts Street store will be only its second foray into Kansas after a Leawood location opened in May.

Journal-World reporter Chad Lawhorn first reported the arrival of BurgerFi in his Town Talk blog back in March. At the time, Kurzban and his wife, Michelle, also a co-owner, said they expected to open the Lawrence location by mid-spring of this year. Now, several months later, Josh cites construction issues as the cause of the delay.

“The building, or parts of it, are 100 years old,” he says. “We definitely wanted to preserve some of its architectural elements.”

The restaurant boasts an original tin ceiling and an exposed brick facade along a passageway to its back end. Much of the furniture is made from upcycled materials, Josh says.

As for the food, BurgerFi makes its patties from free-range, hormone-free, never-frozen Angus beef. Customers can also choose from five different types of hotdogs, hand-cut fries (ordered regular, well-done or limp), and frozen custard made with pure cane sugar. There’s also a quinoa-and-lentil-based veggie burger that’s made fresh daily.

Josh says the restaurant plans to source as much produce as possible from local providers in season. Free State Brewing Company, 23rd Street Brewery, Boulevard Brewing Company beers will be on tap; selections from Paola-based Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery are also on the menu.

“Basically the message is, we’re a gourmet kitchen hiding in a fast-casual environment,” Josh says. “We’re very excited to be in a college town like Lawrence.”

BurgerFi’s hours are 11 a.m to 11 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday, and 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Tips welcome!

Try something unusual or know of something interesting going on at a Lawrence restaurant? Send me an email at jhlavacek@ljworld.com or contact me on Twitter @hlavacekjoanna. For more local food and restaurant news, click here.

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