In the lower level of The Ambassador, Tulsa's only registered historic hotel, sits a quaint and unique Euro-style bistro with a delightful menu and great atmosphere. The Chalkboard restaurant has been a part of Tulsa's history since the 1970s, and as a part of a multimillion dollar renovation, the new and improved Chalkboard restaurant arrived in the spring of 1999.
The entrance to this hidden treasure is reminiscent of a cliché French bistro complete with wire-framed chairs and tables outside surrounded by a black rod iron fence. The restaurant has both a cafe-style feel combined with the refinement of an elegant lunch or dinner out on the town. With warm tones of burgundy and gold, the dining room has sleek rectangular tables topped with white linens and fresh flowers.
The interior of The Chalkboard has changed since the early years, and today, it proudly sports an open kitchen for guests to see the chefs at work. The dining room complements that theme with two levels of open seating that can accommodate couples or medium sized families.
Even though The Chalkboard is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, I decided to try the hybrid meal of the week and go for brunch on Sunday. We met some friends near the refined sports club-like bar where they were enjoying a hearty, colorfully presented bloody mary and checking out the sports feature of the day. We were promptly seated on the lower level of the dining room and introduced to the daily specials.
I noticed that the warm and cozy decor extends throughout the room with rows and rows of wine bottles around the exterior walls and multiple larger tables lining the interior. Classic French and Italian style vintage posters also help create a familiar setting.
Our server Dorin guided us through the menu and recommended the bruschetta as a starter. I sampled the house drink of the day (a mimosa) and ordered the crab cake appetizers for the table to enjoy.
My husband went for the crab and avocado eggs benedict, and I ordered The Chalkboard frittata, an open-faced Italian omelet with caramelized onions & smoked bacon, asiago cheese and topped with a cherry tomato salad and your choice of fresh fruit or hash browns. My guests followed suit with more orders of traditional eggs benedict and the beautiful house waffles served with berries and cream. Dorin recommended the house pecan salad with mixed greens, raspberry vinaigrette, bing cherries, dried apples, candied pecans, and crumbled goat cheese.
While waiting for our appetizers, I checked out the breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu as well as the wine list. Most of The Chalkboard's breakfast crowd comes from guests at the hotel, but everyone is welcome to enjoy. The menu features traditional continental-style options as well as a few more interesting items, such as breakfast tacos, stuffed French toast, The Chalkboard hash and a daily house quiche option.
The lunch menu offers many of the same items as brunch but adds several great sandwiches such as a muffaletta, Chalkboard club, and ABLT (avocado, bacon, lettuce, and tomato). Prices range from $7-$15 for lunch. The dinner menu changes seasonally and features many European classics such as duck confit, panzanella salad, seared foie gras, beef wellington and gnocchi. There are also more familiar items such as a grilled New York strip steak and diver scallops. Expect to pay between $8 and $40 for the variety of dinner plates.
Our appetizers arrived and looked colorful and fresh. The bruschetta was very satisfying with perfect little pieces of tomatoes cured in just the right amount of balsamic vinegar and tossed with fresh herbs and a little parmesan cheese. The toast accompaniments were brown, crisp and flavorful. The crab cake appetizer was nicely proportioned. One very large crab cake was "chalked" full of crab meat and well seasoned. Unfortunately, the cake was removed from its tanning skillet a little too soon. I like my crab cakes crispy and golden brown on the outside, so these were a little pale for me. It was served with a very well seasoned garlic and anchovy aioli and small caramelized onion salad.
When the entrees arrived, we were delighted to see generous portions and full, colorful plates. The frittata was a handsome portion that almost two could share. The bacon and caramelized onions added a nice richness to the eggs, and the hash-browns were perfectly crisp and delicious. The avocado and crab eggs benedict was colorful and rich. A thick hollandaise topped two beautiful plump poached eggs, and large chunks of crab meat and avocado finished the dish. The waffles were every bit as regal and robust as the rest of the dishes while proudly hosting beautiful fresh berries and real whipped sweetened cream. The house salad also was a treat with the snappy raspberry vinaigrette, sweet fruit and nut pieces and savory creamy goat cheese. The whole table fought over it. The freshness of the salad was a nice break from the rich flavors and textures of the other dishes.
Overall, The Chalkboard hosted our small group with class and thoroughness. We enjoyed the comfortable, almost elegant atmosphere and liked the fact we could order breakfast food and still sample some of the house specialties. I couldn't help but notice the list of awards on the wall -- everything from best restaurant to most romantic atmosphere, best service and best wine list to many, many others from various years and categories, all of which confirmed what we had just experienced on a lovely Sunday afternoon.
Give The Chalkboard a taste for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner and enjoy some of Tulsa's history, elegant cuisine and comfortable-yet-refined atmosphere. I'll definitely be headed back to sample their dinner menu and encourage you to visit their casual bar after work or celebrate your next special occasion with Tulsa's drawing board for great food, flavor, and fellowship.
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