Amélie’s brings French bakery flair to south Charlotte

By Amy Rogers | Photos by Richard Rudisill

It’s an eight-hour plane ride to Paris, where classic French pastries abound in patisseries lining the city’s streets. Luckily for Charlotteans, there’s no need to cross an ocean for an authentic experience – Amelie’s French Bakery and Cafe is much closer to home.

Like the fictional film character for which it’s named, Amelie’s is charming, quirky and utterly European. The Carmel Commons location opened in June 2015 and could be easy to miss, tucked away in a row of shops along Pineville- Matthews Road. But once visitors enter the inviting space, they may forget they’re just steps away from the bustling business corridor of Highway 51.

A long display case filled with edible works of art contains delicate petits fours, miniature mousse cups, glazed fruit tarts, rich brownies and almond- four macaron cookies, in more than a dozen favors and colors as bright as a watercolor painter’s palette. Some favors change seasonally, which means maple, clove and browned-butter-pecan confections will be available during cold weather only. Cookie aficionados should note: These light and slightly chewy macarons are different from the macaroon cookies made from coconut that are also available.

Amelie’s menu boards list the day’s soups, sandwiches, quiches and salads. Drinks at the adjacent beverage bar include coffees, teas and a selection of wines and local beers. House-made syrups such as spiced apple and orange-clove add seasonal favors to French sodas and mimosas.

For many, a bakery is synonymous with sweet treats, but Amelie’s savory dishes are always on the menu, such as a rich, puff-pastry bouchee filled with ham and gruyere cheese. As remarkable as it may seem that the bakery might end a day with leftover croissants, those that go unsold make their way into pain perdu.

Glazed fruit tarts and salted caramel apple cider are just two of Amélie’s popular selections.

It’s a savory bread pudding with custard and a combination of hearty ingredients that may include sausage, apples and cheddar during winter, and lighter vegetables at other times of year.

Amelie’s sells literally thousands of cookies each day. A few ingredients such as puff pastry dough, bulk almond creme and chocolate mousse are prepped at the bakery’s production kitchen uptown, but everything is assembled and baked fresh, every day, at each of the individual locations.

And while each of Amelie’s six locations has its own personality and decor, all of them have the fanciful French style that includes wide-striped blue walls, a chandelier fashioned from kitchen utensils and a Mona Lisa wearing sunglasses.

Cleverly mismatched furniture and mosaic art pieces crafted by designer and co-founder Brenda Ische give Amelie’s its signature style. Carmel Commons has the only covered patio, and it’s open year-round with heaters that make the space cozy in winter. It’s the perfect spot to sip spiced, mulled wine or a salted caramel apple cider.

Whether enjoying a simple cafe au lait or an elegant chocolate petit gateau, everyone can agree on one thing: Amelie’s French Bakery and Cafe truly captures the favor of that special and delicious “je ne sais quoi,” without all that troublesome travel.

Amélie’s exudes a funky French style that includes blue-striped walls and a chandelier made of kitchen utensils.