It may have begun life as a drive-in, but the new restaurant at 26th and Main Street in Hutchinson has definitely grown up.
There's not a burger to be found these days. The new Wilder's on Main Bistro and Bakery has maintained the original curving wood pillars unique to the Sandy's Thrift and Swift Drive-in chain from the 1960s.
But, after 14 months of renovations on the 50-year-old building, that's about all that remains of a drive-in atmosphere.
Except there is that drive-up window. Randy & I questioned that feature after eating there on Monday evening. It seemed a little out of character.
However, from reading The Hutchinson News, I think the owners were looking at the window for making it easy for customers to pick up breakfast, coffee and bakery items.
The dinner menu is definitely a more fine-dining atmosphere. Of course, these days people are wearing everything when they dine out, including shorts, jeans and ball caps.
But the food was definitely higher end. And so was the atmosphere. We were there on a warm evening, so the see-through gas fireplace at the entrance wasn't lit. But the restaurant has interesting lighting, redwood ceiling panels and opaque glass panels that separate parts of the dining room from the multi-colored lighted bar.
We became sweet potato fries fans when Jill lived in Nashville, Tennessee, during her dietetics internship at Vanderbilt. Randy couldn't resist. (I'll blame it all on him!)
Wilder's on Main sweet potato fries came in a pretty cone-shaped holder. They had a little too much freshly chopped garlic for our taste, but the sauce was good. It said it was a ranch/bleu cheese sauce, though I didn't taste a lot of bleu cheese. Maybe it's because I was tasting so much garlic. The fries themselves were yummy though.
The dinner menu features entrees ranging from about $13 to $20 and includes Mushroom Risotto, Apple Pork Chops, Filet Mignon and Marinated Lamb Popsicles.
Randy asked the waitress what her favorite entree was. He ordered her recommendation - the Apple Pork Chop.
It came with a sweet potato, bacon and apple hash and a mustard sauce. The pork chop was brined in apple cider. Randy shared a bite with me and it was delicious. The entrees don't come with a salad, and there's not a house salad option. It would be expensive to add a salad without sharing with a friend.
I chose two items from the starters menu.
I love tomato soup. This one looked beautiful when it arrived at the table, and it was fun to break through the puff pastry surface to find the tomato soup underneath.
It had roasted tomatoes, herbs and cream. It was a little heavy on the pepper for me, but my kids will tell you that I'm a wimp when it comes to spices.
I also ordered the roasted beet salad. It had both yellow and red beets. I would have been happy with a plate of those beets, but they were served with mixed greens, toasted pecans and goat cheese crumbles. The balsamic vinegar definitely dominated the dressing. It probably could have used a little more olive oil to smooth it out. But I enjoyed the salad.
We both looked at the dessert case, but opted to leave that for another adventure. There were lots of choices from creme brulee to a flourless chocolate cake to giant cupcakes and cookies.
Our waitress was exceptional. She was personable, and our water glasses were always full.
There isn't a children's menu, which doesn't affect us. But a mom and dad with two small children came in and I wondered what they would order for their kids. While we were there, the family's Garlic Parmesan fries arrived, but I assume they were just sharing a portion of mom and dad's entrees. Wilder's has macaroni and cheese on its starter/small plates menu, but it's bleu cheese - probably not what a 2- and 4-year-old would choose. (That was this mom's guess about the kids' ages.)
I was also surprised to see three teenage girls dining by themselves. I guess they have a bigger food budget than picking up a Sonic burger.
I would like to go back and try the lunch menu. The restaurant's Facebook page says their salads and sandwiches for lunch cost about $8 each. Or if it's dinner time, I will probably opt for the salmon dish the next time. It's served with smashed potatoes and wilted spinach.
This restaurant location has been a kind of revolving door. It's last reincarnation was as Luigi's Italian Restaurant. Before that, I think it was a Mexican place.
I hope it sticks around long enough for us to try it again.
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