Romanced at Springboro’s Ambiance Wine Bar Cafe

Spaghetti Dinner (above) and Peach Shortcake (left) at Ambiance Wine Bar Cafe in Springboro; photos: Paula Johnson

By Paula Johnson

It’s hard not to be taken by the charm of Springboro’s Main Street. Lined with lush, leafy trees and charming, historic, painted brick and wood-framed buildings, it’s the kind of street that implores you (in a very relaxed way) to take a stroll. To say that Main Street oozes charm pretty much sums it up. And Ambiance Wine Bar Cafe fits right in with that oozing charm thing, as PIP (Palate In Progress) and I discovered when we visited to get a closer look at what was behind its welcoming façade.

The Art of Wine

The building sits close to the sidewalk, but there are two tiny, wrought iron tables on the cozy patio space. The sign hanging above the entry says “Ambiance Art Studio and Gallery” along with “Wine Bar Cafe.” Upon entering, we found that while there were art pieces scattered throughout, the space had morphed from its original focus on art into its current incarnation as, primarily, a wine bar cafe. Art, cooking, and running a neighborhood business are all passions of Ambiance’s multifaceted owner, Patty Reeves, who also spends her days testing software for a large health care company. She’s the sole kitchen staff, and makes practically everything from scratch (if it’s not made in-house, Reeves sources it locally from high-quality suppliers like Dorothy Lane).

Because it’s largely a one-woman show, Ambiance has a very limited menu. A half-dozen simple appetizers, eight flatbread-style thin-crust pizzas, two sandwiches, some salads, and a pair of pasta dishes are all you’ll find, plus occasional specials and one seasonally changing dessert. Don’t look for a steak to pair with your cabernet—the menu is light, straightforward, and appropriate for a wine bar.

The interior space is also limited, but in a pleasantly intimate way. There are two rooms appointed with small tables and homey touches like a painted mantle, hardwood floors, and cozy lighting. Additionally, there are a few seats at the small bar.

Our server immediately welcomed us, and I am remiss in not remembering her name.  We were her only table (Ambiance is only open Wednesday through Saturday, with Wednesdays not particularly crowded in contrast to weekends, she told me), so we had ample opportunity to chat. She was very friendly and pleasant, with a winning Cindy-Brady-dimpled smile. If you visit, it will be easy to recognize her from the smile. She was earnest in her efforts to balance chatting with us and giving us time to chat alone, and did so successfully. She also perfectly timed spacing out our courses, something that I find doesn’t happen often if a place is crowded.

PIP and I began with—what else—wine. (Though, there is a craft beer cooler and the menu says they make one cocktail: a low alcohol martini.) We both went for some nice reds from California’s Coppola winery, his a syrah ($9) and mine a claret ($12). As we enjoyed our wine, we began with some Italian bread from Dorothy Lane and a good grassy olive oil with herbs and a little vinegar. We were told that owner Patty makes wonderful spaghetti sauce, so that’s what I wanted to try ($14), as well as Thomas’s Tomato and Feta Pizza ($13). The pizza features fresh tomatoes, Kalamata olives, provolone, mozzarella, feta, chopped basil, and a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and can be ordered with pizza sauce or garlic butter. Knowing that the pizza sauce was also made in-house turned that into a must-try.

Tomato Talent

So did Patty have a way with tomatoes? Indeed she did, both with the pizza sauce and the spaghetti. The pizza was nicely filling, more than most of the thin-crust variety, probably due to the three cheeses. The tomatoey sauce had a fresh taste, reinforced by the scattering of basil, and the Kalamatas were a good foil for its sweetness. I’d bet the garlic butter sauce would be equally as good with these ingredients, and I plan to try it next time. The spaghetti sauce was savory sweet with hunks of fresh tomato and tender ground meat, the kind your grandma might make. Hearty and straightforward and darned good. (I also liked the homemade Italian dressing, which came on the accompanying salad.)

The dessert of the week was Peach Shortcake ($6). Peaches cooked in bourbon and brown sugar on a buttery shortcake would be good enough, but topping it with sweet mascarpone cheese and fresh whipped cream made it heaven. After tasting the shortcake I would be inclined to order whatever dessert Patty imagines to life.

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

As I finished dessert, I remarked on the cozy romance of the space. Our server exclaimed, “Oh, you have no idea! We’ve had a lot of first dates. And a lot of people making out in their cars outside. We are an online dating meet-up point. It’s like e-Harmony in here. I guess it’s our location. This is our romance table.” She pointed toward a table with cushy chairs nestled in an alcove. “An online couple had their first date at that table. Nine months later, they came back with their newborn twins!” I’d say that’s some powerful ambiance.

Ambiance Wine Bar Cafe is located at 345 S. Main St. in Springboro. For more information, please call 937.550.4073.

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Paula Johnson
Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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