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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lotus Leaf offers 'decadent dishes with a healthy twist'

The restaurant opened last fall and is a bright spot in Delano.

BY DENISE NEIL
The Wichita Eagle

If you eat a crepe stuffed with bananas and Nutella in a “healthy” restaurant, the crepe has no calories.

At least that’s what we told ourselves as we dined recently at Lotus Leaf Cafe & Creperie, a California-esque eatery that specializes in “decadent dishes with a healthy twist.”

The tiny little restaurant opened last fall at 618 W. Douglas in Delano. It’s owned by local acupuncturist Jacquelyn Keefer, who since opening has hired a chef (Yia Yia’s veteran James Butler), expanded the kitchen and lined up a string of local food vendors.

ON THE MENU: Lotus Leaf serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and each menu includes crepes, both sweet and savory, stuffed with veggies, fruits, meats and cheeses and topped with choice of cheese. The breakfast menu also has items such as a fruit and yogurt parfait and breakfast granola, and lunch offers a list appetizers, fresh salads and panini sandwiches. After 4 p.m., Lotus Leaf also has dinner entrees such as baked Tandoori chicken.

DON’T-MISS DISHES: Dining at Lotus Leaf is a fun experience, partially because it’s so refreshingly different from anything Wichita has. It’s funky and fun, and the food is healthy without tasting like health food. We tried nearly every crepe on the menu, and our favorite (besides the dessert crepes, which are ridiculously delicious) was the tarragon chicken crepe ($8.25 at lunch), a light, sun dried tomato and tarragon-flavored shell stuffed with a creamy mixture of baked chicken, tarragon, onions and goat cheese topped with a sherry tarragon sauce and choice of Swiss, Cheddar or Parmesan cheese. It was served with a small side salad made with fancy greens and topped with feta cheese, shredded carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and a nice vinaigrette.

The seafood crepe ($9.50 at lunch) was similarly tasty. Though the menu promised shrimp, crab and scallops in the crepe — and the dish had a definite seafoody flavor — we had trouble locating the actual seafood in the chevre-sherry bechamel sauce filling. (Though we did find some big chunks of tasty mushroom.) We ventured off the crepe menu to test out the chicken salad panini ($8.25 at lunch), which was not a panini at all but rather a large scoop of herby, creamy chicken salad served open faced on a delicious piece of toasted wheatberry bread with lettuce and tomato. A lovely cous cous served on the side was peppered with tender roasted vegetables.

We started our meal with one of the restaurant’s three appetizers — an avocado mango salsa dip ($7), served with baked and soft whole-wheat pita chips. We didn’t taste much mango, but it was a very good version of guacamole.

Our main complaint with our entrees was that they all were a bit overly salty. We could visually see the salt granules on the plate, so perhaps a cook just got carried away with the sprinkling that day.

The highlight of the whole experience was definitely the dessert crepes. The banana Nutella crepe ($5.25) was sinfully oozing with the gooey hazelnut spread and topped with a strawberry compote. The chocolate crepe ($5.95) came in a dark chocolately shell and featured an orange-infused chocolate ganache. It was sweetened with Xylitol, a natural sugar substitute that Lotus Leaf is big on. We couldn’t detect any artificial sweetener aftertaste.

AMBIENCE: The narrow dining room is a bit cramped but is warm and eclectically decorated, with both tall and short tables and exposed brick walls dotted with interesting artwork. Insufficient signage makes the restaurant a little hard to find.

PRICE RANGE: Appetizers are $7 to $7.50. Salads range from $8 to $10. Crepes are $8.25 at lunch, $9.50 to $12.50 at dinner. Sandwiches are $8.25 at lunch, $9-$10 at dinner. Dinner entrees are $10.50 to $12. Dessert crepes are $5.25 to $6. Breakfast dishes range from $5.50 to $7.50.

SERVICE: Good. On a busy afternoon, the kitchen staff — including Chef Butler — brought dishes out to diners. Ratings reflect the critic’s judgment of the food, service and atmosphere in relation to the price. If you would like to nominate a restaurant to be reviewed, call 316-268-6327 or e-mail dneil@wichitaeagle.com.

REVIEW
Lotus Leaf Cafe & Creperie
Three forks out of four
Where: 613 W. Douglas, 316-295-4133 Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon.-Wed; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thu-Sat; noon to 4 p.m. Sun.
Type of food: Crepes, salads, sandwiches
Alcohol:
No
Web site: www.lotusleafwichita.com

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