Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Being beefy at Ampulle Dry Gin and Beef Club in Stuttgart...

I don't remember who it was that suggested Ampulle Dry Gin and Beef Club, but I do know that I made a note and added the link to my bookmarks.  In my quest to find great food in the Stuttgart area, I am always looking for places where others have had good experiences.  Bill and I both enjoy good beef and Bill is a gin fanatic (and I like it okay myself).


Marketing...


Our chance to try Ampulle was realized last night, after we checked in to Stuttgart's fabulous Waldhotel.  You may be wondering why, if I live close to Stuttgart, I am staying in a hotel.  Originally, the reason was because yesterday, I was supposed to have a final check of my new dental implant with Dr. Blair and tonight, we're going to the Schlossplatz to see Van Morrison in concert.  Because Stuttgart is a bit of a haul from Jettingen and I have been itching to get away, we decided to have a two night "staycation".  We put Zane and Arran up at Dog Holiday and I made big dinner plans.

But then, there was a crisis in Africa and Bill had a meeting to attend that made it necessary to reschedule the appointment with Dr. Blair.  So much for that.  But we did at least get a good night's sleep at the Waldhotel and a good dinner at Ampulle.

I booked our 7:30pm reservation on Ampulle's Web site.  They have a restaurant reservation app there; it's not OpenTable, but an easy to use application that made booking our table simple.  Normally, I might have picked an earlier time than 7:30, but that was pretty much the earliest I could arrange it.  It turned out reservations weren't even necessary because the restaurant wasn't that busy last night.


The outside of Ampulle.

Ampulle is located very close to the Feuersee S-Bahn stop, so we took public transportation to the restaurant from the Waldhotel.  I would highly recommend using the train to get to Ampulle, because parking near the restaurant can be challenging.  If you do choose to drive, be advised that if you have too much to drink, a staff member can drive you home in your car for the cost of taxi fare back to the restaurant.  Since we live in Jettingen, that would be quite a fare!


Obligatory shot of Bill perusing the menu.  He just got a spiffy new haircut.  I bet it wasn't the infamous blonde at Panzer who did it.

Anyway, we were right on time for the reservation.  They were expecting us and led us to one of the three little dining rooms in the cozy restaurant.  The first thing I noticed was the smell of tobacco.  A man was sitting by the bar smoking a cigar.  Fortunately, there is a glass door that separates the smoking area from the dining area.  It was closed for much of the evening, though there were a few times it was left open.  The guy smoking cigars was there the whole time we were, about 2.5 hours.  He was smoking the entire time, which I found annoying.  If we go back to Ampulle, I will request a table further away from the bar area.


I was seated next to the window, which offered a great view of the restaurant's catering van.

The bartender, who spoke excellent English, handed us menus and offered us a drink.  We ordered a bottle of sparkling water and then Bill ordered a Gin Martini for himself and a Gin Basil Smash for me.  Ampulle has many different gins available, though we didn't request a special one.  Curiously, they did not give us a menu with a list of gins and suggested cocktails.  I think they were pouring Bombay Sapphire, though, which is just fine.  Be advised that if you want to try different gins, you might want to spend some time in the bar so you can see what's available.


Fancy leather menu!

After we ordered the drinks, a waiter brought us fresh bread with butter and olive oil.  I noticed the oil was in a little corked container that resembled an old time medicine bottle.  That was by design, as the building Ampulle was in was evidently once a drugstore.  Looking around the restaurant, I could see lots of old German ads for pharmaceuticals and old fashioned drug containers.  It was pretty cool.


Gin cocktails.  They were refreshing!


And good fresh bread.  I was hungry when we walked in and probably ate more than I should have.


Last night's lovely Italian red.  Ampulle's wine list isn't overwhelming and they offer some good choices.

Finally, it was time to order the food.  Bill went with a Caesar salad for 10,50 euros.  I had a lobster based soup; I'm pretty sure it was a bisque, though that's not how it was advertised in the menu.  That went for 11 euros.  In retrospect, a salad may have been a better choice, since it was a bit warm and humid last night.  Bill and I like to order different things when we go out so we can try each other's dishes.  We also ordered a lovely red wine from the Piedmont region of Italy to go with our beefy meal.

For the main course, I ordered the 300 gram dry aged rib-eye for 36 euros.  Bill had a 250 gram strip.  We both had spinach as a side dish.  Ampulle offers a number of different cuts of beef, some of which are intended for two.  We saw one couple order an 850 gram t-bone, which was brought to the table on a cart and carved for them.  We didn't order any sauces to go with our steaks; they have several that cost a few euros extra, everything from Béarnaise to BBQ sauce.

The first courses were very impressive and quite large.  Bill's salad was loaded with three strips of bacon and plenty of creamy dressing.  It was a meal in itself.  My soup seemed a little smaller, but was a bit too rich to finish.  I ate about half before I stopped because I wanted to save room.  I did love the soup, though, and if it were winter, I think it would be the perfect comfort food.


Bill's monster Caesar salad.  He really enjoyed it and ate the whole thing.  Bacon makes everything better, doesn't it?


And my lobster soup.  This was very tasty, but rich and probably too heavy for a summer evening.  My fault for ordering it, I know.  In the winter, this soup would be fabulous.



The soup came with an accessory.  It was like a crispy rolled up crepe with egg in it.  It tasted okay, but I wasn't quite sure what it was meant for.  I just dipped it in the soup.  



I catch Bill admiring the cart of beef that was rolled in for a couple in the next room.



The cart after the waiter served the couple.

Because the first courses were a bit more than we were expecting, we had a brief intermission between courses.  When our steaks were brought out, they looked wonderful.  The chef had garnished them with fresh rosemary.  Unfortunately, because of our intermission, the steaks were not sizzling hot.  My steak was kind of irregularly cut.  Most of it was cooked the requested medium temperature, but there were a few spots that were medium well and a few that turned out medium rare.  My steak had a bit of gristle in it, too.  The beef tasted good, though.  I think Bill's strip was better than my ribeye was.


My ribeye, garnished with rosemary.  I'm not really a fan of rosemary.  I kind of feel about it the same way I do about lava cakes.  It's overrated.  But, I will admit that it looked nice on the beef.  The spinach side was interesting.  It was creamed and served with raisins, bacon, and pine nuts.  The raisins and bacon gave the spinach an appealing salty sweet quality.  I didn't eat a lot of the spinach, though it tasted good.  It was a bit rich.



Bill's strip.  He really enjoyed it and the spinach.

I noticed that Ampulle offers a few lighter and less expensive dishes for those who aren't looking for a steak experience.  I even saw one vegetarian option, though I don't remember seeing anything for kids.  Actually, I would say Ampulle is a very adult kind of place and probably not suited for children.  The heavy smoking in the bar and focus on booze makes it seem less appropriate for little ones.  I also noticed the sexy mood music that seemed like it was lifted from a fashion show.

I usually get dessert when Bill and I have our dinner adventures, but last night I was getting a bit antsy.  Our waiter gave us plenty of time... perhaps a little too much.  As it got close to 10:00, I was getting tired and thinking I really just wanted to get back to the hotel, take a shower, and climb into bed.  If I had wanted dessert, I noticed they had several options available.  I probably would have gone for the chocolate soufflé, which would have really kept us up past our bedtimes.  We asked for the check and it was less than I was expecting at 159 euros.


The bill.

All in all, we had a good evening at Ampulle and would visit again.  Next time, we will request a table further away from the bar area to avoid stogie smokers.  Also, I will try a different cut of beef.  They had an Australian roast beef dish that looked very inviting.


And a pretty photo of the cathedral as the sun was sinking

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