The origin story for the off-shoot of Amelia’s Wood Fired Cuisine is varied … but there is a common denominator: Paris.
Find owner Amelia Eesley – perhaps sitting on one of those curved Art Nouveau barstools or a leather banquette or a vaguely Art Deco rattan chair in the dining area – and she says the need for a market began when she opened her eponymous Tulsa restaurant in 2017.
When the space that housed Sette Italian Brick Oven became available two doors down, Eesley and chef Kevin Snell realized they could combine a market with a casual dining area and create a downtown community center. That conception became reality as Amelia’s Market and Brasserie opened in December, but its germination dates to Eesley’s childhood.
“I was raised watching those old, 1940s, black-and-white movies,” Eesley says. “Paris seemed to be in every movie. I saw those Robert Doisneau photos of young lovers kissing by the Seine, and it seemed like the most romantic place in the world.”
Walk inside the brasserie and those feelings waft around you.
This new space is more than a romantic date-night getaway. You can come for breakfast, then hook your laptop up to the Wi-Fi and sip one of the concoctions that Nate Wood (also the bartender) fashions from coffee specially blended by the local Cirque Coffee. Or, stop by on your way to the office and grab a to-go sandwich from the market.
“We’re trying to make life easier for the downtown community,” Snell says. “We have pre-cooked meals, or you can buy fresh ingredients and we’ll give you the recipe card.”
At lunch and dinner, the restaurant shines. Snell manages to take a dish everyone knows, find its essence and make it better.
The trout Amandine is cooked in a roaring, wood-burning oven, which somehow makes it the most tender and succulent fish you’ve ever had.
Every afternoon between 4 p.m. and the dinner rush, Raqaun Bennett, chef de cuisine at Amelia’s Brasserie, heads toward the kitchen to prepare the family meal for cooks and servers alike.
“It’s one of the most important times,” Bennett says. “It shows the staff I care and it’s the one time they can slow down, maybe talk about their lives. We are literally running all the time.”
Today’s meal is pizza, so Bennett stops at the oven, a coppery beast that dominates its corner of the restaurant. Myssie Roberts runs over to prepare a vegan mayonnaise made of beets. Roberts, who achieved a fine reputation at Bird and Bottle, says Amelia’s is a bit different.
“[It’s] the first kitchen I’ve ever worked in where I feed a fire and smell like a campfire when I come home,” she says. “And fire is so primal. Also, we’re challenged here in a different way. We have to be creative, but within a French traditional framework.”
When the staff meal is ready, the workers head for the kitchen and grab a macaron from pastry chef Lauren Washburn, who used to work for David Chang at New York’s Momofuku.
“One of the best things is watching Lauren make macarons,” Bennett says. “There’s such total grace and concentration.”
Leave the staffers in the kitchen and stroll into the market, where narrow aisles and jam-packed shelves are full of delights beyond imagination: rice and grits, sandwiches, ice cream, dips, soups and entrees – homemade from the kitchen; glistening fish and scallops; and locally sourced foods like pork and chicken from 413 Farms, eggs from Prairie Creek, and dairy from Swan and Lomah.
A whole counter is devoted to tomahawk ribeyes, filets and sausages. Snell used to do all the butchering, but he’s trained others, including Chance Cundiff.
“I can do a lot more pushups since I started here,” Cundiff says while turning the crank on the sausage grinder. “I was working as a dishwasher at [the original] Amelia’s, but Kevin saw I had potential, so he trained me to be a butcher.”
A few feet away, at the oven, Roberts is back at work and smiling.
“It’s nice loving what you do,” she says.