Friday, March 30, 2012

Trattoria Blair Marina トラットリアブレアマリーナ022-361-6131

Address:  宮城県塩竈市港町1−4−1マリンゲート塩釜2F.  About an 8-minute walk from Hon-Shiogama JR Station.
Map:  Scroll down to the bottom.
Open Tuesday thru Sunday from 11 am  – 10:30 pm.  Closed Mondays.
Lunch is 11 am – 4 pm.
A great lunch!  Stuffed to the gills, which is appropriate since I was at the marina … Blair Marina, that is!   This was my first time dining at this establishment and thanks to my friend, Tony, who reserved our table for our company lunch (and Julian, who paid for it!).
My initial impression was a mix of sorrow and joy.  As we drove into the parking lot of the Shiogama Marine Gate, images of last year’s tsunami flashed through my head.  I remembered last April seeing fishing boats that had been dumped in this parking lot and across the road, where boats had no business being, by the hellish tsunami.  I remembered the collapsed houses nearby and the cars piled upon each other along this very street.  
Now, the tremendous effort to rebuild is clearly evident, offering a tranquil and touching temperament.  There are a few reminders of the devastation that was caused just a year ago to this port.  And because there are still reminders, it’s lamentable, but because this area has fought on, it’s awe-inspiring.
And Blair Marina is one of this area’s success stories!  
But on to the food!  The lunch set menu consisted of four different pasta options (980 to 1380 円), two different pizza options (1150 ), and a meat or fish option (1200 ).  Each set came with salad, bread, and a drink.  I opted for the meat selection which was chicken sautéed in mustard sauce, but for the record here are the pasta choices that were offered:  A) Chicken and cabbage in tomato sauce, B)  Shrimp with a leafy vegetable in a garlic sauce, C) Mozzarella and mini tomato in a basil sauce, D) Scallops and からすみ in cream sauce.
When the pasta was served the waitress asked everyone if they would like their dishes topped off with fresh, grated parmesan cheese.   I feel that offering freshly grated cheese or ground black pepper from a pepper mill adds a subtle sophistication to the dining experience.
Personally, I was not impressed with the salad, thinking that the dressing was not very exciting plus it was topped with wakame (seafood is a no-no with me), but I lunched with seven other people in my group and they all agreed that the salad was good.  It must be the picky eater in me.
The three fresh bread rolls (tomato, sesame seed, and walnut) also didn’t have much flavor in my opinion, but again, maybe it was just me and my pickiness.
Oh!  But the chicken and mustard sauce!  Wow!  That more than made up for any misgivings I had!  The dish came with a variety of veggies:  sweet potato, eggplant, bell peppers, and beets.  I don’t like eggplant or beets but the mouthwatering mustard sauce made these objectionable objects manageable.

Chicken with Mustard Sauce

Our group also ordered a Margherita pizza and a Prosciutto pizza (mozzerlla, ham, and mushroom).   The thin-crusted Margherita was quite nice, but I didn’t care for the Prosciutto (too salty and just didn’t agree with my palate).  Again, apparently it was my pickiness as everyone else in my group raved about it.

Margherita Pizza

Prosciutto Pizza

My friend, Helen, who had ordered the fish said that it was a bit too oily yet still very delicious.

The oily but delicious fish

And the view!  Don't forget to request a window table, although most of the tables will provide a scenic view of the Shiogama port and the train that passes periodically.
There is a free parking area, but who knows how quickly this will fill up on a busy weekend.  The Blair Marina restaurant is rather spacious yet was a bit crowded when we waltzed in at 11:50 am on a Thursday afternoon.  But when we exited about an hour or so later there were around fifteen or so people waiting to get in.  And this was a weekday!
Oh, and there are other locations (yet untested).   Check their website for Blair House (next to Mitsukoshi Department Store near Kotodai-koen) and Blair Garden in Izumi.

One pasta dish ...

If you happen to try these restaurants, please let me know what you think.  As for Blair Marina, I highly recommend it!!!

And another ...
And another.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

UPDATE: Bistro Boeuf d'Or ビストロブフドール

**Please check my previous post on Bistro Boeuf d'Or HERE for more information.

Yet another blue-ribbon brunch at the Bistro!  The "A" Lunch Set truly deserves an "A" grade.  This set included pork with a balsamic dressing, potatoes and veggies, salad, bread, dessert and coffee.  
The official name of this dish on the menu was written as 伊豆沼産霜ふり赤豚温野菜添え (1000 円).


They offered an appetizer for an additional 500 that was a shrimp and scallop mix, but picky me and seafood don't go well together so I took a pass.

The salad had fresh, crisp vegetables topped with a tangy Italian dressing.  The homemade bread serving was a slice of French bread and a slice of walnut bread and they were both delicious.

The crisp salad

I've never been a big fan of mashed potatoes and when I saw them on my plate I automatically gave a silent sigh.  But these were unlike any other yucky smashed potaters; these were delectable with a touch of sweetness to them.  Even the slice of kabocha was delightful.

The pork was tender and mouthwatering with the balsamic sauce adding the perfect touch!  The dessert was a flavorful serving of mango jelly.  Despite the fact that I don't like mango, I liked this jelly!  And to top it off, the coffee had a deep, rich flavor.

My wife ordered the 1500 "B" set that comprised of seasonal fish and grilled shrimp in a mango sauce.  Her set came with a gobou soup that wasn't bad, this coming from a picky eater who doesn't like gobou.  I actually thought, "I should've ordered this."
She was quite happy with her dessert, which was a light and fluffy chocolate eclair with yogurt. 

The ごぼうSoup

In summation, if you want something special, something succulent, something satisfying, head on over to the Bistro!

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Saint Marc Café Choco Cro サンマルクカフィ

Address:  There are two locations that I frequent.  One is on Clis Road kind of across from Daiei and McDonald's.  The other is on the 3rd floor of the LaLa Garden Shopping Mall in Nagamachi-minami.  A quick look at their website indicates one in Rifu, too.
Map:  Click the "Location" link below for the Clis Road store.
Open:  The Clis Road store opens at 7 am weekdays and 8 am weekends.  The LaLa Garden store opens at 10 am.  Both are open till 9 pm.
This chocolate croissant café is not to be confused with the Saint Marc Bakery/Restaurant that is on my Favorites list, although they belong to the same parent company.
My friend Anna introduced me to this café about six years ago when it was next to the Disney Store on Hirose-dori.   That shop closed down a while back but that’s when they opened up on Chuo-dori.   
Not much to say about this place other than the chocolate croissants are flaky and delicious!  And for only 170 円 it’s not a bad value.  Recently I’ve seen some new desserts on display that look pretty good but I just haven’t gotten around to trying them.  The coffee is just okay, but they do offer a drink stamp card that will get you a free coffee quite easily.

The LaLa Garden location has a separate enclosed smoking area as well as a small children’s play area where parents can let their kids can run amuck.  So if you’re a smoker with rugrats and have a sweet tooth, this might be the place for you!