Dining With Denise Neil

Wichita is losing a seafood buffet but gaining a fancy new high-tech restaurant

For years, the Legends restaurant inside the hotel by the airport in Wichita was famous for its Saturday-night seafood buffet. People would pay one price and load their plates with crab legs, shrimp and seafood crepes.

As of December, Legends is gone – and along with it that seafood buffet, which had fed Wichita diners for 25 years. But operators at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Wichita Airport are hoping that Wichita will like what its about to replace Legends with even better.

Next month, the hotel will open Chisholm’s American Beef and Ale House, a contemporary restaurant featuring a 15-foot-tall wall of wine, high-tech menus and two dozen beers on tap.

“It’s going to be one of the hippest, nicest restaurants in all of Wichita,” said Rob Breeden, the director of sales for the hotel.

The hotel is almost finished with a $2.7 million renovation of the space that once held Legends, and it looks completely different. Gone are the red vinyl chairs and 1980s color palette. The restaurant now features neutral tones, an exposition kitchen, wood and wrought iron touches and a dramatic wine wall at the entrance that will hold 1,100 bottles.

Its menu will be filled with entrees featuring steaks, scallops, short ribs and pizzas made in a wood stone oven. Chisholm’s also hopes to be known for its “ale” and will have 24 beers on tap. It also will have its own signature craft beer called Chisholm’s Pale Ale that was brewed special by Aero Plains Brewing.

The new restaurant also has two swank private dining rooms than be used for rehearsal diners, baby showers, meetings and other events.

Chisholm’s will have another interesting modern touch: Instead of menus, each customer will be handed an electronic tablet loaded with the menu, photos of menu items and suggestions for beer and wine pairing.

Though people loved the seafood buffet, Breeden said, it wasn’t cost-effective and didn’t fit with the new concept. But he hopes Wichita will love the new menu, too.

“It’s a whole new concept,” he said. “This menu was designed specifically for Wichita, Kansas.”

Until Chisholm’s opens, the hotel is operating a temporary dining room with a limited menu from Legends. That space will be absorbed into the new restaurant when it opens and will provide a roomy bar area with a double-sided fireplace.

I’ve always thought that hotel restaurants in Wichita are incredibly underutilized by locals. Some of Wichita’s finest fine dining spots, from Fireside Grille inside the Wichita Marriott to Sienna Tuscan Steakhouse in the Ambassador, are tucked away in hotels, waiting to be discovered.

Chisholm’s will add yet another such option.

Stay tuned for updates on the opening and news about the menu.