The Vault: New downtown eatery offers fantastic flavors in four-star atmosphere
BY SCOTT CHERRY World Restaurant Critic
Thursday, October 18, 2012
3/28/13 at 8:03 AM
When Jeramy and Libby Auld were scouting sites to open a second downtown restaurant, one with a different theme from their Mexican-styled Elote Cafe, they almost brushed off the long-vacant First National Autobank building.
"On paper it didn't look appealing," Jeramy Auld said. "It had no street front. It was on two levels, had all these weird spaces and had been vacant for 20 years.
"But we were talked into looking at it, and when we walked in we said, 'Oh, wow!' "
Tulsa World writer Frank Leslie called the building "Tulsa's prettiest downtown architectural plum" when it opened amid much public fanfare in 1959.
The Aulds kept the building's midcentury modern look when they remodeled and even retained the integrity of the second-floor Tom Tom Room, the former site of hundreds of group meetings and private events.
Libby Auld constructed a lean menu - nine appetizers, four salads, four sandwiches, eight entrees - that reflects the mood of the building with dishes such as chicken and noodles, Waldorf hearts, pimento mac and cheese, BLT sandwich and ginger-pineapple upside down cake.
We visited on a recent Thursday night just before tables started to fill about 8 p.m. and asked for a table in the Tom Tom Room, which is louder and more informal than the ground-floor dining room but has better views. Patio dining also is available just outside the Tom Tom Room.
We probably could have stopped with our appetizers - cheese board ($15), crab-stuffed avocado ($10), Waldorf hearts ($6) and bruschetta three ways ($14) - and gone home happy.
Two preparations of the bruschetta, one topping with tomato, basil, feta cheese and olives and one with crab, veggie cream cheese and capers, are standard. Each was excellent, but the one I like best was the chef's choice with strawberry jam, prosciutto, thin-sliced cantaloupe and a sprig of mint. The hint of mint gave the dish a bright, fresh flavor.
My wife could survive for days on the crab-stuffed avocado, a whole avocado sliced in half and stuffed with crab, tomato, celery, cucumber, yogurt and sunflower seeds. She says minus the cucumber it would be a perfect dish, but that's a personal preference.
The cheese board included generous servings of Gruyere, blue cheese and goat cheese with sliced apples, prosciutto, grapes, crostini and crackers. The Waldorf hearts was a take on the traditional salad with apples, walnuts, grapes, celery and hearts of romaine in a creamy lemon dressing.
Our entrees included a melt-in-your-mouth beef tenderloin ($29) cooked to a perfect medium-rare and pork bourguignon ($16), tender, braised pork shoulder cooked in red wine with carrots and onions and served on a bed of rice.
Our other choices included Clipper Ship chicken ($15), pretzel sliders ($12) and the fish of the day, grilled salmon ($27).
The chicken dish had "comfort" written all over it with tender free-range chicken in a Cutty Sark beurre blanc, mashed potatoes and veggies. The salmon had a flawless texture, but one diner thought the spicy sambal topping masked the flavor of the fish.
The curly shaped pretzel buns are made inhouse and dusted with spent grains from Marshall Brewing Co. Our fillings included bacon, blue cheese and barbecue sauce; goat cheese, caramelized onions and heirloom tomato; and maple aioli, red leaf lettuce, onion and provolone. Fillings may change daily, and this is fast becoming a signature dish.
Our server, Steve, was informative and efficient.
The Vault has full bar service, including classic cocktails such as Manhattan, Mai Tai, Pimm's Cup and whiskey sour prepared by mixologist Jenny Bradley with fresh ingredients and house-made syrups. Ryan Embree is restaurant manager, and Brian Womack is executive chef.
Dinner reservations on the weekends are highly recommended.
620 S. Boston Ave.
(on a scale of 0 to 4 stars)
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-
Friday, 4-10 p.m. Saturday
(Tom Tom Room open late
on weekends); accepts all
major credit cards.
Original Print Headline: On the money
Scott Cherry 918-581-8463
Arctic char, a recent fish of the day, is served with grits and seasonal vegetables. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World