Wichita is full of foodies, and, as it turns out, I’m not the only one with an opinion about Wichita’s dining scene.
Since I started reviewing Wichita restaurants back in 2000, I’ve developed a stable of local pen pals who regularly e-mail me with tips, stories and reviews and participate in my bi-weekly online dining chats. When my Dining with Denise Neil blog launched two years ago, my number of pen pals quadrupled, and I suddenly had a community of assistants, most of whom I knew only by their Kansas.com handles.
We’ve decided to use their knowledge for food good.
Today, we are introducing our Wichita Eagle Dining Panel. It consists of Wichitans I have gotten to know through the years, both electronically and in person, who know a lot about food, wine and eating out.
I met with this group a few weeks ago at Caffe Moderne, where we got to know each other and talked about how the new panel would work. The group includes people of all different ages and backgrounds, and could have stayed there all night, sharing stories about things we’ve eaten. We had the easy camaraderie of people who share a passion.
Starting today, the panel will provide regular mini-reviews of restaurants in Wichita. I’ve asked them to visit places I probably won’t get to when I’m reviewing restaurants. I try to visit places that have opened in the past six months, so panelists will make it a practice to visit Wichita classics, little-known holes in the wall or places I never made it to.
Our goal is to publish a panelist review once a week or so, either in the Go! section, in Sunday’s Arts & Leisure section or on my Dining with Denise blog at blogs.kansas.com/dining.
We start today with Jeff Christensen’s review of Sake Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi at 650 N Carriage Parkway, a restaurant I’ve heard great things about but never reviewed.
Jeff works at a local bank and is one of my most faithful pen pals. He’s a passionate cook who faithfully e-mails me whenever he notices a new restaurant, tries a new restaurant or cooks a new masterpiece. I met him in person last year after he successfully won a chance to accompany me on a review meal in a silent auction at a local charity event. He and his wife, Stacy, joined me on my review visit to Luca Italian Kitchen, and they were as fun as they were helpful.
Now, meet the rest of the dining panel.