Address: 宮城県仙台市太白区泉崎１－３３－１０ 富沢公園パークマンション１０２. Located about a three-minute walk from the Sendai Gymnasium or a five-minute walk from Tomizawa Subway Station.
Lunch: 11:30 am – 2:00 pm. Dinner: 6:00 pm – 10:30 pm.
While flipping the channels this morning we happened upon a local TV program called あらあらかしこ which was currently showcasing businesses near Tomizawa Subway Station. One of the eateries highlighted was Bistro Ampoule, and the show’s reporters were just raving about the exquisite food.
We live within walking distance to this restaurant and have driven past it countless times, but it never seemed to catch our attention. In fact, it’s kind of difficult to tell that there’s a restaurant at that location. This seemed to reaffirm a theory that I proposed to my wife: The truly great restaurants in Sendai seem to do the least in attracting attention to themselves, while restaurants with more, shall we say, common fare, tend to go overboard in their displays of “Look at me! I’m a restaurant! I have bright colors, big banners, and plaster the side of the building with photos of the food and the prices! Eat here! Please!” びっくりドンキー is an example of this “I’m over here!” type of restaurant. I actually enjoy driving by Bikkuri Donkeys because each restaurant has a different motif on the outside of the building. You can spot a Bikkuri Donkey a mile away. I have nothing against びっくりドンキー. I’ve eaten there and it was good. But it was also nothing special. Conversely, Bistro Ampoule seems to follow the concept taken by such greats as Café de Mieux and Bistro Boeuf d’Or, which almost seem to hide their existence. Rather than focus on being seen, these restaurants focus on quality.
We strolled over to Bistro Ampoule and at first were turned away due to them hosting a full house (the place only holds about twenty people). We thought that perhaps others in the neighborhood had seen the same program, as well. But we gave them our cell phone number and they gave us a call ten minutes later saying they had an opening.
My wife and I both ordered the “A” set lunch that came with an appetizer, a main dish selection, bread or rice, a drink, and dessert for 1000 yen. For an additional 500 yen, I went with the steak and fries, the mouthwatering platter they showed on the TV program, while my wife ordered the fish selection, but more on these later.
First came the focaccia bread and the ratatouille appetizer. The ratatouille consisted of eggplant, red and yellow bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, mizuna, and zucchini while topped with a light dressing. This was very good! The focaccia was light with a slightly crunchy crust that complimented the ratatouille very nicely.
My wife stated that the fish was tender and delicious, and that the vegetables were fabulous! The accompanying veggies were as follows: Chinese cabbage, sweet potatoes, radish, spinach, yellow bell peppers, onion, carrots, eggplant, and green onions. She said that it seemed to be topped with a delightful a carrot sauce!
I’m always a bit concerned when ordering steak in Japan, as I don’t like to see the meat red. Back in the States I order my steaks medium (or medium rare for prime rib), but in Japan I have to ask for well done just so that it won’t be red in the center. But this time I forgot to request how I wanted my steak prepared when ordering . Luckily for me, it was grilled to a perfect medium setting, and like my wife’s fish, this was also tender and delicious, and much to my delight, appeared to be just a bit bigger than what I saw on TV that morning.
We were seated at the counter where I could see the chef preparing our food from our vantage point. I’m no cook, so I don’t know if this is standard practice or not but it was the first time I had seen this: the chef held the uncooked steak in one hand away from the stove and sprinkled the salt over it, then the pepper, before he placed it on the grill. It looked … different, but it also gave me the impression that he was sweating over the details and that he was really putting in a fair amount of effort into our food preparations. I liked that!
The fries were just the way I like them: crispy and salted to perfection. A nice added touch was the spicy mustard on the platter that went well with both the steak and fries.
For dessert, we were brought a wonderful serving of vanilla ice cream to top off the meal, or so I thought. By the end of our meal, we were the only ones in the joint. The waitress, having noticed me writing my notes and taking umpteen flash photos asked me, “Do you write a blog?” I told her I did. She then brought out the regular menu (we had only seen the lunch menu up until then) and told us a little about the restaurant. They’ve been open for business for three years now and are proud of their wine lists and their food preparation. She says that sometimes the menu changes as they set the day’s menu according to the availability of the freshest ingredients. We noticed that they offer a wine nomihoudai, which is something I’ve never seen advertised before.
|Vanilla Ice Cream|
Perhaps they were trying to buy my loyalties as the waitress served us some cherries. She said that the chef had just returned from his hometown in Yamagata and wanted to share his omiyage with us. It worked.
Bistro Ampoule does not offer a stamp card but they did give us two 100 Euro tickets, which is good for a 100 yen discount each off our next lunch. Click on the クーポン tab on the gnavi site for the same discount ahead of time. Another coupon choice is the 1050 yen two hour house wine nomihoudai. The website states that they have six parking spaces available. Since it’s a small establishment you might want to call ahead and make a reservation.
I’m listing Bisro Ampoule in my Recommend listings for the time being, but I have a feeling that after a couple of more visits this restaurant will be moving up to my Favorites.
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