Amelie’s is one of a kind. Actually, four of a kind, with branches in Rock Hill, SC, Atlanta, GA, and Charlotte’s Carmel Commons Shopping Center). In my experience, the food and coffee at all of them are equally excellent (I’ve yet to visit the Carmel Commons location), but if you can go only to one, make it the flagship store in Charlotte — open 24/7/365 — for the fullest expression of a decorative aesthetic that the word eclectic is far too ordinary to describe. Art on the wall, lamps on tables and dangling from above, the very tables and chairs are all Alice-in-Wonderland weird — a cheerfully psychedelic environment with plenty of comfortable seating and lounging space in multiple rooms.
There is nothing silly about the pastries Amelie’s bakes. They’re world class, sophisticated, utterly fresh (many are still warm in the early morning hours), and consistently delicious. Of special note are twice-baked croissants (almond, chocolate, or raspberry-pistachio) that transmogrify from flaky lightweights into moist tea cakes: a grand companion for at least a couple of cups of coffee. I also am a big fan of Amelie’s gorgeous fruit tarts, available single-serving or full-size, as well as of cool Napoleons and eclairs, and a large repertoire of muffins, Danishes, and tea cakes.
While pastries and coffee are the headliners, Amelie’s is no slouch in the full-meal department. Sandwiches come on crisp-crusted featherweight baguettes or flaky croissants; creative salads frequently include in-season fruits; and there is a wide selection of spreads to go on house-baked breads: pimento cheese, smoked gouda, sundried tomato basil, roasted garlic feta, roasted red pepper, caper goat cheese, truffle honey, and basil butter.
The one negative thing to say about Amelie’s is that the menu is overwhelming, with far too many tempting things for even the most voracious appetite to sample in a single visit.