1. John Browns: The new bar and restaurant opened last week in the former Clifton Wine and Jazz space at 3700 E. Douglas. It serves a menu of appetizers, sandwiches and unique desserts from 4 p.m. until 2 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays. One of its coolest features: A bloody Mary bar on Sundays.
2. Lotus Leaf Cafe & Creperie: A new healthy place opened this week in the Palette spot at 613 W. Douglas in Delano. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, including sweet and savory crepes, panini sandwiches, soups and dinner entrees such as tandoori chicken and salmon Nicoise. About half of the menu offerings are vegetarian/vegan. Hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, call 316-295-4133.
3. Panda Express, a new fast Chinese chain at 11787 E. Kellogg, opened a week ago. It specializes in a wide variety of Asian wok dishes, from Thai curries to sweet and sours.
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Ted's Montana Grill is gone, but that doesn't mean gift card holders are out of luck. The chain is refunding unused gift cards for customers who call 404-266-1344. Or, those who'd rather get fed can take advantage of an offer by Texas Roadhouse at 6707 W. Kellogg. They'll exchange any unexpired Ted's gift card for a free $12 Texas Roadhouse entree certificate. The offer is limited to one gift card exchanged per table.
Exchanges can be made through Dec. 31 at stores in Wichita, Kansas City and Omaha.
Maharaja's clock ticking
Rumors have been swirling that Maharaja, the under-patronized Indian restaurant at 3008 W. Central, is closing its doors for good. But owner Raj Singh is still hoping to stay in Wichita. He'll close his restaurant on Dec. 15 but will continue to look for an east-side location, which he hopes to open in February or March. If he can't find a suitable space, he'll close for good.
Wichita burger fan Donovan Duggins is one of 10 national finalists in Red Robin's Fifth Annual "Red Robin Kids' Cookoff." Donovan, an 11-year-old Robinson Middle School seventh-grader, made the finals with his recipe for what he calls a Mount Vesuvius burger, made with lava sauce, crumbled blue cheese, Provolone cheese, and bacon on a sesame seed bun. Donovan's burger was chosen from thousands of entries, and he and the nine other finalists will travel to Denver on Dec. 9, where they'll make their recipes for a panel of judges. The winning burger will be featured on the Red Robin menu this summer. Donovan also is in the running for a "Fan Favorite" award, and Wichitans can vote for him by visiting www.redrobinkidscookoff.com. While on the site, they also can register to watch a free webcast of the burger competition on Dec. 9.