Cheap Eats: Amelie's French Bakery

A taste of France - by way of North Carolina - in Westside

Though Atlanta's Westside dining scene continues to grow by leaps and bounds, one challenge still remains for the neighborhood: a decent, cheap sandwich. When it comes to lunch between two buns, there's a rather gaping hole between the $10 sandwiches at Star Provisions (worth every penny, one might argue) and the myriad fast food options upon which Tech students seem to subsist. Or, at least, there was. Enter Amelie's, a recently opened spot on Marietta Street that bills itself as an authentic Parisian bakery and patisserie straight out of ... Charlotte, N.C. This bakeshop might not yet have the French street cred of established Atlanta bakeries such as Alon's or Henri's, but what it may lack in pedigree, it makes up for in atmosphere and homemade bread (and, yes, macarons).

LA VIE BOHEME: Search for "French shabby chic" on Pinterest. That's essentially what you'll find when you walk in the door at Amelie's: a cozy, quirky shop stacked to the ceiling with an explosion of bohemian kitsch. Decked out in marquee lights and mismatched furniture, oversized clocks and twinkling chandeliers, even a life-sized Marie Antoinette cut-out, the place seems to be an Epcot-esque study in what Americans think French bakeries ought to look like: whimsical, eccentric, as playful and precious as Audrey Tatou herself frolicking around Montmartre with a baguette and a cigarette. Regardless, one would be hard-pressed to find another breakfast or lunch spot on this stretch of Marietta that serves up such a distinctive atmosphere alongside $6 sandwiches.

FEAST YOUR EYES: Take a glance at the display case, and you'll quickly see that Amelie's (whose original Charlotte location has garnered a rabid fan base and a nod from the New York Times) boasts a pretty impressive spread of baked goods, including croissants ($1.99) and baguettes ($3.29), along with many, many sweets (eclairs, mini-mousse cups, salted caramel brownies, macarons, and macaroons). The whole shebang, including such breakfast items as quiches and egg sandwiches, is available all day, or at least until the goods sell out — the croissants, baked first thing in the morning, are usually the first to go, so get there early if you're on a mission.

OUR DAILY BREAD: The lunch portions here are rather, er, petit. But Amelie's recently lowered the price of all its sandwiches to a uniform $5.59 (the croque monsieur used to cost $7.29), which helps. The croque monsieur is the most substantial, with a thin layer of ham and melted Gruyere between warm, fluffy, egg-dipped brioche. The less labor-intensive dishes, like the roasted turkey and brie or paté de Campagne, are small but filling, and served on Amelie's great, house-baked bread. Lunch specials typically run in the $8 range and usually include a sandwich served with salad or soup (the spinach, asparagus, and leek soup is founder Lynn St. Laurent's grandmother's recipe).

COZY UP TO A CUP: In addition to its array of sandwiches, pastries, and sweets, Amelie's also offers a full-service espresso bar with lattes ("The Short," $3, and "The Regular," $3.25), along with a few signature drinks like French lavender lemonade ($3.49). Given that Octane, the epicenter of Atlanta's craft coffee scene, is a five-minute walk up Marietta Street, coffee snobs probably won't find themselves flocking to Amelie's — but for average Joes, the bakeshop does have an atmosphere well-suited for camping out with a French press and a laptop. Translation: comfy chairs, Wifi, and salted caramel brownies.

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