Review: Taste & See Everyday Gourmet's lunch service
Rating:Three forks out of four
Where: 3825 E. Harry
Hours: Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays
Type of food: Latin/American
Web site: www.tasteandseeparties.com
Jason Febres might be the type of chef who needs to be his own boss.
The Venezuelan-born cook has a rocky history on the Wichita dining scene: He opened the downtown Sabor with Melad Stephan in 2007, then the east-side Sabor in 2008. He left that job, then returned, then left again to open Yuca Bistro with Roni Attari. But that partnership fell apart at the last minute, and Attari opened without him. (Yuca has since closed.)
But earlier this year, Febres went to work for Bethel House's Taste & See Everyday Gourmet, a business originally designed as a cooking school.
Now the executive chef and part-owner, Febres is putting his signature on the place.
In the evenings, he leads cooking classes and caters private parties in the space. But in late February, he introduced a delicious weekday lunch that allows Febres to show off what he does on his own terms.
ON THE MENU: The length and breadth of Febres' menu is surprising considering that he's open only for lunch Mondays through Fridays. Its full of sandwiches, salads and appetizers, many of them Sabor-esque: a ceviche appetizer, fish tacos, a Cuban sandwich and more.
DON'T-MISS DISHES: Our lunch at Taste & See was delicious from start to finish.
We began our meal with a couple of appetizers. The first, a churrasco bruschetta, was lick-the-plate delicious and just as attractive. The star of the dish was tender marinated Argentinean-style beef tenderloin, mixed up with a savory sauce and piled high on toasted French bread with grilled onions and tomatoes, a few slices of fresh avocado and a cilantro garnish.
My Cuban ($7 with a side) may have been the star of the lunch. I didn't love the Cuban that Febres served at Sabor, mainly because the bread was too soft. This one, though, is served on the crusty, crispy bread that I love, and it was stuffed with delicious layers of roasted adobo pork, smoked ham, Emmental cheese, cornichon (a tart, gherkin-style pickle) and a Dijonaise spread. A small salad served on the side was topped with strawberries and a vibrant vinaigrette made with guava juice.
The fish tacos also were delicious and very similar to Sabor's famous fish tacos. The dish, which was $7, featured two flour tortillas stuffed with pan-seared tilapia and topped with a spicy slaw and tropical pico de gallo.
We also tried the chicken schwarma sandwich, made with marinated chicken and stuffed with black bean humus in pita bread. It was fine, but we'd bypass it next time in favor of the churrasco Philly steak sandwich ($7), which was causing much swooning at a nearby table and is stuffed full of the same beef that came on the bruschetta.
We also sampled Febres' homemade desserts — an amazing layered chocolate ganache cake and a decadent cuatro leches cake, an amped up version of the cake he served at Sabor.
AMBIENCE: We had just a few complaints. For one, the restaurant is hard to find. The Wichita Mall is huge, and the business doesn't have sufficient outside signs. Also, the tables in the space are awkwardly huge, making conversation a strain
On the fun side, though, diners can watch Febres cooking in the space, which has a giant open kitchen and cameras that show his every move on mounted television screens.
PRICE RANGE: Reasonable. Sandwiches are large and come with a side for $7. Appetizers and desserts are $4. Salads are $5.
SERVICE: Lunch service was good but a little slow. The staff of four seemed somewhat overwhelmed the day we visited.