close
close

Wichita is adding its latest fine dining restaurant this week, and the dishes are truly unique

Wichita will add another fine dining restaurant to its roster when chef Josh Rathbun opens his new restaurant — Lotte at 320 S. Market — on Tuesday.

The restaurant, which took over the space on the ground floor of Fidelity Bank’s RISE car park, which First Mile Canteen operated until it closed in April, held a few soft openings over the weekend, and I attended – along with most of the blogger community of Wichita food.

Lotte's dining room and bar area have a modern design with lots of natural light.Lotte's dining room and bar area have a modern design with lots of natural light.

Lotte’s dining room and bar area have a modern design with lots of natural light.

I was impressed with the new restaurant, which showcases the skills that Rathbun — a Wichita native — honed after years running the kitchen at Siena Tuscan Steakhouse and working in restaurants across the country. He has created a menu (which you can see, with prices, below) that features dishes unlike those found at other fine dining restaurants. They’re well-thought-out, composed dishes that capitalize on seasonal produce sourced from local farmers — a longtime passion of Rathbun’s, who once organized a “farm-to-table summit” in Wichita.

Lotte, named after the chef’s 8-year-old daughter Charlotte and pronounced “law-tee,” also offers a different kind of experience for Wichita diners. The restaurant is set up so that an army of chefs prepare and finish plates in full view of the dining room, while Rathbun calmly oversees proceedings and inspects each dish as it goes out. Diners can even reserve front-row seats at a bar that faces the line. As the orders arrive, Rathbun calls out the dishes and the chefs repeat him, their voices in unison — a very “yes, chef” moment that those familiar with FX’s excellent restaurant drama “The Bear” will appreciate.

Lotte's Black Truffle Chicken is served with butter mushrooms on top of a side of farro porridge.Lotte's Black Truffle Chicken is served with butter mushrooms on top of a side of farro porridge.

Lotte’s Black Truffle Chicken is served with butter mushrooms on top of a side of farro porridge.

I tried several dishes, but I really liked the Black Truffle Chicken, which featured a melt-in-your-mouth portion of chicken whose moisture was achieved by coating the chicken breast with a house-made chicken sausage consisting of from tender and dark meat. Served with buttery chanterelle mushrooms and a rich farro porridge. The scallops were also a treat, their briny saltiness enhanced by the crunchy pine nuts and golden sweet raisins used as a garnish.

The menu, which isn’t huge, also includes a salad made with local greens, a sunchoke bisque topped with crab and walnuts, and a few vegetarian pastas. Appetizer options include a tuna crudo topped with crispy shallots and a pork terrine wrapped in bacon. When was the last time you saw a terrine on a menu in Wichita?

Lotte's tuna crudo appetizer is made with raw bluefin tuna, crispy shallots and puffed rice.Lotte's tuna crudo appetizer is made with raw bluefin tuna, crispy shallots and puffed rice.

Lotte’s tuna crudo appetizer is made with raw bluefin tuna, crispy shallots and puffed rice.

Other entrée proteins include lamb, steak, catfish and an eye-catching bone-in pork chop, which is served with brown buttered sweet potatoes and creamed greens. The bar also has a menu of craft cocktails, wine and beer.

Rathbun redecorated the restaurant from its First Mile days, adding new paint colors, stylish tables and chairs, and new bar seating. It also commissioned its neighbor – plant shop and bar Grow – to create an attractive moss wall art piece featuring the Lotte logo at the restaurant’s entrance. On opening weekend, he opened the two garage doors on the east end of the restaurant, which let in a nice breeze — along with a few pesky flies. But it should be gone soon enough.

Lotte's Whispering Palms cocktail is prepared with bourbon, chamomile and pineapple.Lotte's Whispering Palms cocktail is prepared with bourbon, chamomile and pineapple.

Lotte’s Whispering Palms cocktail is prepared with bourbon, chamomile and pineapple.

The restaurant will be perfect for those who want to try something new, who want to have a nice dinner before a show in the city center or who just want a special evening. The only thing holding the restaurant back is that it faces a downtown one-way street that has few other businesses and not much car traffic. Lotte, however, looks like it will be special enough to become a destination people will be willing to seek out, just like Cafe Bel Ami, a hidden downtown restaurant that has been in business for 25 years.

Lotte isn’t open for lunch, though that’s something Rathbun said he might add eventually. Starting Tuesday, restaurant hours will be 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The restaurant accepts reservations at tables.toasttab.com

Lotte opens Tuesday at 320 S. Market, in the space at the corner of Market and English that First Mile Canteen occupied until April.Lotte opens Tuesday at 320 S. Market, in the space at the corner of Market and English that First Mile Canteen occupied until April.

Lotte opens Tuesday at 320 S. Market, in the space at the corner of Market and English that First Mile Canteen occupied until April.

Lotte menu

Lotte's food menuLotte's food menu

Lotte’s food menu

Lotte's drink menuLotte's drink menu

Lotte’s drink menu