These days there are lots of restaurants vying for your attention. Wherever we roam, we have noticed that more eateries are finding unique ways to draw in a crowd. The Pennant, in downtown Topeka, has discovered a pleasing mix where food and fun collide. Our day of exploring was chugging along, but our need to refuel was obvious from the growing feelings of hunger. There are plenty of options, around downtown, to satisfy any urge. After hearing about a special treat being offered by The Pennant, we knew it was the right choice for this particular excursion.
Catching Our Attention
On a previous visit, we explored some of the art that is found scattered through downtown Topeka. This piece, which gives a nod to our military past and present, was one of our favorites. In fact, we discovered it after dining at Brew Bank, which sits just a block away. It was happening upon this sculpture that offered our first glimpse of The Pennant. Since we had already satisfied our hunger, on that day, I just made a mental note of this location for future reference.
Now that we had a chance to explore it, we wanted to make sure we saw everything The Pennant has to offer. The interesting name for the restaurant is actually a historic nod to a previous eatery. On the second floor of this downtown building, the Pennant Cafeteria dished out meals from 1950 until 1967. The food was made from scratch and was frequented by guests from the capital and surrounding businesses. It seemed like everyone, in those days, loved the dishes being served by Miss Beezley. When the new owners decided to revitalize this space, they felt it appropriate to pay homage to this history in name and style.
Familiar and Fun
To help foster that old-time feel, the owners incorporated the philosophy of using local ingredients. We love it when this happens, as it will usually result in more flavor. On this visit, we wanted to sample a nice lunchtime selection, so we started with a batch of their Twisted Poutine. While we have yet to find a match for the version we discovered in Quebec City, The Pennant has certainly added its own flair to the dish. It starts with the crispy fries, which are topped with Cheddar cheese curds and a mushroom Bordelaise sauce, and then sprinkled with crispy onion strings. Toss in one of their Dino-shakes, and we had a fabulous start to our meal.
The Three B’s
Now that we had the appetizer out of the way, it was time to get to the main courses. Crystal decided that the Bourbon, Black, and Bleu Burger sounded intriguing. When I saw that it starts with Black Angus beef, I was anxious to sample it, as well. The juicy patty comes dressed with blue cheese sauce, bourbon-glazed caramelized onions, and bacon. That’s a whole lot of flavor going on and a side of Onion Rings added interesting accents.
Getting My Cuban On
While she was on her side of the table sorting through the burgers, I discovered a dish I hate to miss. If you have seen some of our previous dining articles, you might realize that I have an affinity for Cuban sandwiches. The Pennant plays up their version with the fun name, Cuban Pickle Crisis. This one comes with all of the base ingredients of ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and mustard. They also toss in a squirt of the house aioli and serve it up on a toasted Telera bun. It was a nice blend of flavors that captures the essence of this popular dish.
2nd Story Fun Zone
Once we finished eating, even though we were unable to clean our plates, it was time to let the fun collide with our food stop. The bowling lanes were currently occupied, so we decided to head upstairs to check out the rest of their space. What we discovered, was a bar area that has a commanding view of the main thoroughfare in front of the restaurant. This would be a great spot to meet some friends or just recharge at the end of a long day. On the other end of the space is a collection of retro arcade games, including Skeeball. While Crystal and I enjoy pinball, we get more competitive when it comes time to roll some Skeeballs. The upstairs kept us occupied for quite some time.
Eventually, we knew it was time to get back to our explorations. We had come to town to see some museums but found that Dino Days had invaded Topeka. A side stop at The Great Overland Station landed us face to face with a T-Rex named Sue. Since it was already occupied with its own lunch, we felt safe enough to turn our backs on it. It seems like fun and food collide in more than one location in downtown Topeka. Eat up Sue, we understand the need to satisfy the hunger for food and exploring.