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Whether you're a lifelong resident of the Metro area, a Wichita State student, or just visiting the area, you've come to the right place if you're looking for information about restaurants, dining, drinking and food shopping in the Wichita metro area!  Where to go and yes, where NOT to go is listed here in Metro Pursuit. Serving the food and drink community of the Metro area, Wichita, Haysville, Derby, Andover, Bel Aire, Park City, Valley Center, Kechi, Maize - PLUS!


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Chip Review: Kroger Cuban Style Sandwich Flavored Potato Chips

By Mike Thayer

Kroger Cuban Style Sandwich Flavored Potato Chips
I know these aren't Lay's, but you can't eat just one...

This trend into trying to make chips imitate the flavors of iconic foods intrigues me.  Chip makers have now gone way beyond flavor combinations like Mesquite BBQ, sour cream & onion, sea salt & vinegar, cheddar or jalapeno offerings...  Screw the typical one or two added flavor concept, chip makers are going for entire sandwich and entree' flavors!

I recently did a review on such an offering, you can read that review here: Chip Review: Private Selection Chicken Tikka Masala Ripple-Cut Kettle Chips.

Those chips were quite tasty and after enjoying that chip tasting experience, I tried another: Chip Review: Kroger Kettle Cooked Reuben Sandwich Potato Chips - Bachelor on the Cheap.

Those chips were also quite enjoyable.  This bigger, bolder, outside-the-box flavor profile thing is working for me!

So with those positive chip adventures on a nice trend, I'm trying another variety today:  Kroger Cuban Style Sandwich Flavored Potato Chips.

Of the 'sandwich and entree' flavors I've sampled so far, this one is my clear favorite.  A good Cuban sandwich is freshly baked bread piled high with sweet ham, slow roasted pork, Swiss cheese, topped with tart pickles and yellow mustard, then grilled on a sandwich press with plenty of butter.

You get those notes in these chips!  The crunch of the kettle prepared chips is like the crispy sandwich pressed bread and that's followed immediately by the tartness of pickle and the twang of yellow mustard.  Those flavors then fade into sweet and savory notes along with a hint of Swiss cheese goodness and yes, there's a buttery finish.  The range of flavor in these chips really does mimic those you get in a good Cuban sandwich!   

Costing me just $1.69 for an 8 ounce bag, I'm giving Kroger Cuban Style Sandwich Flavored Potato Chips 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Very reasonably priced these chips do indeed mimic the flavors of a classic Cuban sandwich and will most definitely be a repeat buy!  Put a Cuban Sandwich chip dance in your mouth!

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...


Chip Review: Kroger Kettle Cooked Reuben Sandwich Potato Chips - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Kroger Kettle Cooked Reuben Sandwich Potato Chips
Do they really mimic a Reuben?

This trend into trying to make chips imitate the flavors of iconic foods intrigues me.  Chip makers have now gone way beyond flavor combinations like Mesquite BBQ, sour cream & onion, sea salt & vinegar, cheddar or jalapeno offerings...  Screw the one or two added flavor concept, chip makers are going for entire sandwich and entree' flavors!

I recently did a review on such an offering, you can read that review here: Chip Review: Private Selection Chicken Tikka Masala Ripple-Cut Kettle Chips

Those chips were quite tasty.

So with bigger flavor profiles in mind, today I'm reviewing Kroger's Kettle Cooked Reuben Sandwich Potato Chips.

A Reuben sandwich isn't for everybody but it is an American deli classic featuring corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, topped with Russian dressing and served on grilled rye bread.  It's a tangy sandwich dance in the mouth!

Kroger does a nice job of mimicking Reuben flavors, these are definitely tangy chips!  Up front right away in that chip bite you get the twang of sauerkraut notes.  That fades into subtle spices that make corn beef, corn beef and it's followed by the tomato and spice presence of Russian dressing.  If these chips were served on the side of an actual Reuben sandwich, you would be a very happy camper.  And these are kettle chips, so you've got the crunch factor accentuating all those great Reuben flavors.

Costing me just $1.99 for an 8 ounce bag of snack heaven, I'm giving Kroger Kettle Cooked Reuben Sandwich Potato Chips 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  My only knock on these chips is I wish they came in the wavy cut.  The regular cut is fine, you get a nice kettle crunch, but the wavy cut is just that much better in the crunch department. Very reasonably priced, they're wallet friendly and an awesome change of pace chip from the ordinary, the sour cream & onion, the sea salt & vinegar, cheddar or jalapeno flavored kettle chips.  Kick things up a notch with a Reuben!

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 


Chip Review: Private Selection Chicken Tikka Masala Ripple-Cut Kettle Chips

By Mike Thayer

Private Selection Chicken Masala Ripple-Cut Kettle Chips
These are no ordinary chips

I love kettle chips, ripple cut kettle chips are even better which seems to pack more of that kettle flavor than regular cut chips.

So when in the chip aisle yesterday and looking for something a little different than your ordinary kettle chip, sea salt flavored or cheese variety, I happened upon a Chicken Tikka Masala flavored chip.

"Really?"  I thought to myself, "A chip flavored like an iconic Indian dish?"

I had to try these.

Private Selection® if you didn't already know, is Kroger's "upscale" store brand, offering unique products and unexpected flavors, an appeal to the gourmet palate.  Well they certainly hit the unexpected flavor category with Chicken Tikka Masala flavored chips!

Not knowing what to expect with that first chip bite, I was pleasantly surprised.  First you get that strong crunch you're looking for in a kettle chip, but then you get hit with the tomato and fragrant spices of the classic curry dish, it's not subtle, in a good way.  No dip is necessary with these chips, and if you feel the need, just a straight sour cream does the trick as these chips pack SO much flavor.

Costing me $2.99 for an 8 ounce bag, I'm giving Private Selection Tikka Masala Ripple-Cut Kettle Chips 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It truly is a unique chip, packs a boat load of Tikka Masala flavor and is worthy of a repeat buy.  Reasonably priced, if you're looking for something different in a chip, you've GOT to try these.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...


The Arby's Brisket Bacon 'n Beef Dip sandwich is tasty, but brisket is lacking - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Arby's Brisket Bacon 'n Beef Dip Sandwich
It's a piled high and smells wonderful sandwich

I'm always looking at what kind of new items are appearing on fast food/fast casual menus.  Today I'm checking out the limited time offering of a Brisket Bacon 'n Beef Dip Sandwich from Arby's.  I LOVE brisket and combining that with roast beef and au jus?  That sounds rather tasty!

Here's the description of the Brisket Bacon 'n Beef Dip from the Arby's website:  Sliced smoked beef brisket and roast beef with melted Swiss cheese, and bacon on a toasted sub roll. Served with a side of au jus for dipping.

20220112_144659
Not quite bacon in every bite and typical, sloppy fast food prep

The aromas wafting from the bag on the drive home were enticing.  The meats and the seasoned curly fries were teasing my nose!  The temptation to reach in the bag and grab a few curly fries was almost, yes, almost insurmountable.

In unwrapping the sandwich when I got home, those aromas were intensified.  The beef looked piled high and there was plenty of au jus for dipping.  I couldn't wait to take that first bite. 

Arby's skimpy on brisket
Where's the smoked brisket?

It was a delicious bite, but note that 'Brisket' is the first meat listed in the name of this sandwich.  Arby's went a bit skimpy on this.  For the most part this was a roast beef sandwich with three slices of bacon on it.  Don't get me wrong, the roast beef was tender, seasoned well and nicely portioned, but make no mistake the smoked brisket was second fiddle in amount on this sandwich.  Heck, there was more bacon than brisket in this sandwich so make it third fiddle!  And as you can see Arby's is guilty of typical, sloppy fast food preparation, along with the skimpy sliced brisket portion (more like a few chunky remnants), the cheese wasn't exactly melted and came broken apart as in a forgetful afterthought or "Oh Shit" moment by the preparer.  Oh, well, moving on, the bacon was crisp, the roll was warm and toasty and the au jus was spot on.  For the record, the bites where I got some brisket were the best...

Arby's Sandwich
Tasty, but not big or bold in brisket flavor

Costing me almost $12.56 for a medium Arby's Brisket Bacon 'n Beef Dip Sandwich Combo (with seasoned curly fries and a drink), this sandwich tasted good, but it comes up well short on the brisket and is NOT worth the price.  The potential for this sandwich is there, but the care in putting it all together right is not.  Perhaps you'll have a better brisket sandwich experience at your neighborhood Arby's, but I'm giving this sandwich just 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars, it is NOT worthy of a repeat buy, especially at that price!  Did I mention the skimpy portion of brisket you get?

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

The Arby's visited on this occasion is located at 3421 N Rock Rd, Wichita, KS 67226.  Arriving in the drive through lane with just one car ahead of me, the service was fast, friendly and I received my meal before the end of one classic rock song being played on 104.5 The Fox.


Food Review: Subway's Baja Steak & Cheese Sandwich - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Subway Baja Steak & Cheese Sandwich
A Subway Sandwich Combo to go

OK, I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of the never-ending Subway TV commercials and their "Eat Fresh Refresh" new menu campaign.  Featuring sports stars, the commercials were mildly entertaining at first, but it's now overkill.  Watch a football game and you'll get pummeled with the same Subway commercial over and over again and you're able to recite the lines by half time.

Subway is one of my least favorite sandwich shops, their quality has gone downhill in recent years and in fact they finished second to last in my "Who has the best Sub Sandwich" challenge a few years back and to be honest, I don't think I've eaten there since.  You can read that review here.  Their TV commercials didn't entice me at first - the "Eat Fresh Refresh" campaign was unveiled last fall - but tired of hearing Charles Barkley boast up Subway's  Baja Steak & Cheese sandwich, well I finally decided to give Subway another try.

Subway Baja Steak & Cheese
Toasted

Here's the description from the Subway website:  Spicy, cheesy, smoky — this one’s got it all. NEW Steak meets NEW Pepper Jack Cheese, with green peppers, red onions, and NEW Baja Chipotle Sauce on Artisan Italian Bread. Try not to fall head over heels.

I ordered a 6 inch sandwich on white, toasted.  I didn't get anything extra on the sandwich either, I just wanted to check out the base flavors for this review.  If it's got a good foundation, it would be worth ordering again and perhaps then, build on good base flavors.

In taking that first bite, I was pleasantly surprised. This is the best sandwich I've had from Subway in a very long time and I walked into the shop with low expectations considering they were the 8th best sandwich out of 9 sub shops reviewed in my neck of the woods a few years back.  So faced with some lost market share in the sub market - growth of competitors like Jersey Mike's and Firehouse Subs - Subway seems to have upped their game.

Baja Steak & Cheese
You can't see the Baja Chipolte sauce in this lid flip pic, but it's there, underneath that tender, nicely seasoned beef

My sandwich had a nice portion of steak, it was tender, juicy and seasoned well.  Combined with a generous amount of green pepper, red onion and topped with that pepper jack cheese made for a very nice bite.  But what kicks this sandwich up a notch is that Baja Chipolte Sauce, a nice balance of creamy, smoky spice and the maker of my sandwich didn't hold anything back in applying it.

Costing me $10.73 for the sandwich, chip and drink combo, I'm giving the Subway Baja Steak & Jack 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They've improved their menu but also raised their prices, but that's OK because I'm willing to pay a little extra for a better sandwich.  I didn't go back to Subway for such a long time because their cold cut sandwich was sub-par (pun intended) and although a wallet friendly eat, the cold cuts weren't the real deal, with the ham, salami and bologna all turkey based, as in, lacking real and authentic flavor. But I'll make a return visit now, the Baja Steak & Jack is quite tasty with quality ingredients and is worthy of a repeat buy.  And hmmm... That Subway marketing pummel eventually worked..  Charles Barkley finally wore me down...  The Baja was worth it.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related:  Who makes the best sub sandwich? They are listed here from worst to first

The Subway shop visited on this occasion is located at 7934 E Harry St, Wichita, KS 67207.  Arriving at the shop at about 11:30am, it wasn't busy, with just one other customer in line ahead of me I was able to order pretty much right after stepping in the door.  The service was friendly and courteous, my sandwich was made with care.  When I stepped out the door, the lunch rush was arriving, the parking lot was suddenly packed.


Food Review: Tattooed Chef Cauliflower Mac & Cheese - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Tatooed Chef Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
Good looking packaging

Always looking for ways to minimize my carb intake while also trying to maintain some variety in my daily diet, I came across this "Cauliflower Mac & Cheese" dish made by the Tattooed Chef in Sam's Club last week.

The packaging is quite appealing, I mean, who doesn't like Mac & Cheese, right?!  And with 7 grams of protein and just 10 carbs, plus being gluten free, this stuff would seem to be almost a guilt free cheesy pleasure.

My expectations going in were high, I'm thinking, "What was Tattooed Chef able to do with the cauliflower to make it come off as pasta and legitimize calling it a Mac & Cheese?"

Tattooed Chef Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
How does this transform into looking like the packaging pic? It doesn't.

Epic Fail:  Tattooed Chef has no business calling this a "Mac & Cheese."  This is nothing more than cauliflower with cheese, bread crumbs and a bit of seasoning.  The "Mac & Cheese" label is pure marketing, nothing but and it worked, because I bought a package thinking I would be getting something more than just a run-of-the-mill cheesy cauliflower side dish.  Instead of putting "Contains no pasta" in smaller print on the packaging, Tattooed Chef should put, "NOT a Mac & Cheese substitute" on the box.  "Mac & Cheese" in the big, black lettering should be stricken from the box.

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
Oven baked preparation doctored up with bacon bits, Parmesan cheese and additional seasoning

This dish smells of cauliflower, the texture of the cauliflower was not transformed to resemble pasta in any way, the taste is cauliflower.  The cheddar cheese was unremarkable, not mixed throughout the dish and there wasn't enough of it.  There was a tease of cheese, but it was NOT a "Mac & Cheese" amount of cheese.  The panko bread crumbs did not turn golden brown/crisp up in the oven in following the package instructions and overall, the dish is under seasoned.  I had to doctor this thing up with bacon bits, Parmesan cheese and additional seasoning to make it more palatable.

Costing me about $11 at Sam's Club, I'm giving Tattooed Chef Cauliflower Mac & Cheese just 2 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  I like cauliflower, but to label this dish as "Mac & Cheese" is quite a stretch and this product is NOT a repeat buy.  What Tattooed Chef has put out there is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill cheesy cauliflower side dish with a lame bread crumb topping.  My $11 is better spent on something else with more flavor.

2 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 

 


Food Review: Wonderful Pistachios, BBQ Flavor - Bachelor on the Cheap

Wonderful Pistachios
The flavor pops in your mouth

By Mike Thayer

In a continued effort to get away from eating too many chip snacks, I recently picked up an 11 ounce bag of pistachios at Walmart.  Nuts are a nice alternative to chips because not only do they deliver some nice texture and a bit of crunch, they provide some protein and don't have near the volume of carbs that chips do. And out of all the nut varieties there are out there, pistachios are my favorite and not just because of the flavor they deliver. You get 6 grams of protein and only 8 grams of carbs per serving, a GREAT alternative to those dreaded chips.

I was reaching for a bag of the regular roasted and salted pistachios however when the BBQ flavored pistachios caught my eye.  I've never had the BBQ flavor before and so today, it was time to try some.

These things are tasty!  You get the hickory smoked flavor, along with notes of paprika, garlic and salt.  They're so tasty, it's hard to stick to just one serving.

Wonderful Pistachios
These things are addicting

Costing me $9.94 at Walmart for that 11 ounce bag, these aren't the most reasonably priced pistachios but they are flavored and without shells.  That works out to some very excellent BBQ pistachio flavor at 90 cents per ounce.  I'm calling this a repeat buy in giving Wonderful BBQ Pistachios 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  If you're looking to change up your pistachio snacking routine a bit, pick up a bag of BBQ flavored nuts!

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

 


Food Review: The Sonic Patty Melt - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Sonic Double Patty Melt
Sonic Double Patty Melt

As much as I've been eating at Sonic lately, I should be buying some Inspire Brands stock, the parent company of Sonic.  Inspire Brands is also the parent company of Arby's, Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkin', Jimmy John's and Rusty Taco.

I've been enjoying everything I've ordered as I explore the Sonic menu and their limited time offerings.  Texas Toast sandwiches also seem to be a priority in Sonic's marketing push so today I'm reviewing the Sonic Patty Melt.

Here's the description from an Inspire Brands promo:

Satisfying that melty cheese craving, the SONIC® Patty Melt features a quarter pound** 100% pure seasoned beef patty, grilled onions, two slices of American cheese, mayo, and mustard – all packed between two thick, delectable slices of Texas Toast. For double the goodness, guests can try the Double Patty Melt – featuring two, quarter pound 100% pure seasoned beef patties.***

I've got just two words for this sandwich:  DAMN TASTY!

Patty Melt Sandwich
Layers of flavor

I ordered the double patty melt and I'm glad I did because while I like Texas Toast, I just thought the meat to bread ratio with just a single beef patty would be bread overkill.  With the double order, this sandwich is a perfectly balanced combination of well seasoned beef, dressed ever so nicely with the creamy mayo and the tang of the yellow mustard.  Topped with those grilled onions and two slices melty American cheese, the Texas Toast wraps it all up and brings it home with every bite being DAMN TASTY!  I didn't want to put it down to reach for a tater tot.

Costing me $10.42 for the Sonic Double Patty Melt large combo with tots and a Cherry Limeade, this meal is a bit on the high end for a fast food combo meal.  Not the most wallet friendly and the second beef patty a must, I'm giving it 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  Very satisfying, it's a repeat order, but it has to be the double, a single patty just won't do, which would be more like a grilled cheese sandwich with some beef added in.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...

Related: Food Review: Sonic's Country Fried Steak Toaster Sandwich

Related: Food Review: Sonic's FRITOS® Chili Cheese Wraps

Related: Food Review: Sonic's Garlic Butter Bacon Burger

The Sonic visited on this occasion is located at 7702 E Harry St, Wichita, KS 67207.  The service was fast, friendly and done with a smile!  I received my order in less than one classic rock song being played on 104.5, The Fox.  When you visit, don't forget to tip!

 


Food Review: Member's Mark Hard Salami - Bachelor on the Cheap

By Mike Thayer

Member's Mark Hard Salami
1-1/2 pounds of deliciousness

Lunchmeat is one of my go-to snacks, I've always got some on hand in my fridge.  I like lunchmeat because it's an easy grab, it's packed with protein and most importantly, it's darn tasty!  Add a little dollop of mustard and the taste buds are quite happy, no bread required!

Open up the door of my fridge on a given day you might see sliced smoked turkey, roast beef, or black forest ham, but my favorite lunch meat is salami.  Not only is it satisfying by itself direct out of the package, but it lends itself so well to combining with a variety of mustards, crackers, cheeses, breads and more.  In my book, salami is the most versatile choice of lunchmeats.

So with that in mind, today I'm reviewing Member's Mark Hard Salami.

Hard Salami
Just look at all that salami, perfectly sliced

This is really good salami at a great price.  Coming in a very convenient, easy open package making "the grab" and storage easy peasy, this salami delivers big on that traditional deli style salami flavor.  It's EASY to enjoy by itself, in sandwiches, as part of a charcuterie board, or put in pastas and salads.

A good salami has a more complex flavor profile compared to other lunchmeats and that's what is so appealing about it.   It's savory, salty, with notes of spice and sweet, finishing with a hint of garlic and a nice tanginess.  Member's Mark Hard Salami delivers on all that YUM!

Member's Mark Hard Salami
a paper plate 'charcuterie board' true Bachelor style...

Costing me just $7.98 for a 22 ounce package at Sam's Club, I'm giving Member's Mark Hard Salami 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  It's wallet friendly, the packaging is well thought out and the salami tastes great.  It's another dose of YUM and a repeat buy!

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends...