Wichitans often complain that there’s no decent food to be found after 10 or 11 p.m. in Wichita.
But John Browns, a bar and grill that opened late last year in the former Clifton Wine & Jazz spot at 3700 E. Douglas, squashes that complaint. The food is good, and best of all, it’s available until 1:30 a.m. most nights.
ON THE MENU: John Browns’ menu consists of several simple, fresh and tasty salads, warm sandwiches and soups. It also has a unique appetizer menu featuring items such as oysters Rockerfeller and escargot, as well as a longer-than-usual list of tempting desserts.
DON’T-MISS DISHES: We visited John Browns for a late lunch on a recent weekday and found that we had the cool, dark dining room all to ourselves _ not a bad thing on a 100-degree day.
Once the friendly server appeared from the back, she told us that she still had few servings of the daily lunch special _ meat loaf. The restaurant tries to offer different lunch and dinner specials each day.
We opted instead to try some of the sandwiches from the menu, including the Little Havana _ John Browns’ version of a Cuban sandwich that we’d heard was good. And it was. Though we would have preferred a bit more dressing on it, the sandwich featured a nice serving of roasted pork, grilled ham, melty Swiss cheese and dill pickles on crispy, toasty bread. A side of sliced carrots, celery and cucumbers with Ranch dressing for dipping completed a nice summer lunch.
The other hot sandwich we tried also was good. The pulled beef sandwich ($8) was stuffed with a smoky-flavored shredded beef and topped with melted cheese and a mustard-y dressing. It was served with a side of dipping sauce intended to be au jus, we think, but it was a bit thick and gloppy and overly salty.
That same sauce was one of the downfalls of the appetizer we tried. Called Duke Wellington, the appetizer was a take on beef Wellington, featuring four bites of beef wrapped in pastry and placed atop the sauce. The salty sauce overpowered that dish, too, and its $9 price tag was too high for what it was.
A roasted red pepper soup we tried was a treat. The large bowl was $4 and had a perfectly balanced flavor. The texture was nice, too, with small chunks of red pepper appearing every few bites.
John Browns is proud of its desserts, and the two we tried were excellent. We skipped the “dips” the restaurant is known for — one cheesecake flavored and one chocolate Kahlua flavored, both of which are served with various fruits and sweets. Instead, we sampled a vanilla cheesecake ($6), which was fresh and dense and full of vanilla bean flavor, and a fudge lava cake ($6), which was a beautiful circle of chocolate goodness that was hot and gooey in the middle and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
AMBIENCE: John Browns is housed in one of the quaint buildings on the back of Clifton Square. It has a small but inviting deck patio on the front. The inside of the bar is small and dark but neat and tidy, with several half-moon booths plus a collection of tables and chairs.
PRICE RANGE: Appetizers average about $9. Salads are $7 -$8. Sandwiches are $8-$9. Desserts are $5-$7.
SERVICE: Friendly. 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.
Three forks out of four
Where: 3700 E. Douglas, 316-686-5299
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays. (Full menu served until 1:30 a.m.) 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.
Type of food: Sandwiches, salads, soups, desserts Alcohol: Full bar
Web site: www.johnbrownsict.com