The Vault Banks on Great Views, Classic Cuisine
LOCAL DINING By BLAKE AUSTYN
HIDDEN GEM: Libby Auld, proprieter of The Vault, 620 S. Cincinnati Ave., sits in the Tom Tom Room, the restaurant’s highly coveted second floor dining room. The Vault operates in the old First National Auto Bank, which is in downtown Tulsa’s Deco District.
BLAKE AUSTIN for GTR Newspapers
The Vault, while not far off the beaten track in downtown Tulsa’s Deco District, does take a little searching for first-time guests.
“But once you find it, you never forget it,” says Proprieter Libby Auld.
And the building is worth the search.
Originally, the building, 620 S. Cincinnati Ave., built in 1958, operated as the First National Auto Bank. Auld and her husband, Jeremy, stumbled upon it when they were looking for a location for their second restaurant after opening Eloté Café, also in the Deco District, in 2008.
“We would pass the building and think, ‘it would never work,’” says Auld, referring to the building’s hard-to-find location and split level set up. Yet, those are the exact things that customers love, she continues. And “like many challenges, it also brings great opportunities.”
I visited one recent Saturday evening with six of my friends. We were fortunate to get a table in the coveted Tom Tom Room, which is often reserved for private functions. With the room encased in windows, guests enjoy an enviable view. While the room is only on the second floor, the opportunity to be sitting among the lighted, expansive nearby buildings offers an unexpected pleasure as opposed to the more common “view from the top” restaurants.
The menu consists of “classic American” dishes, as the restaurant terms its cuisine.
Options include salads and sandwiches and typical entrees, but some with a slight spin, such as the Pineapple and Mango Shrimp and the Porter Peach Pork Chop.
I chose to try the 6-ounce filet, which was cooked to my specifications of medium well, with flavorful scalloped potatoes and seasonal vegetables slightly cooked to bring out the flavor but not overcooked where the flavor is eliminated.
My table partners chose various other dishes including the Chicken and Waffles, Clipper Ship Chicken, and Pan Fried Portobello.
The Clipper Ship Chicken, a largely popular dish, is one of my favorites. My friend enjoyed the two pieces of grilled chicken and mashed potatoes plus the side of spinach, buttered and seasoned with the right amount of garlic.
Two of my tablemates ordered the Chicken and Waffles; however, beware not to expect traditional waffles with maple syrup. You would likely be disappointed, then, when your dish comes out as a chicken sandwich with waffles serving as the bread.
The Pan Fried Portobello is The Vault’s current summertime vegetarian option. “It tastes like chicken fried steak, but it’s a big mushroom,” says Auld.
A vegetarian herself, Auld makes sure to offer vegetarian options at both her restaurants. Locally, “there’s a slight gap in entrée options for vegetarian dishes,” she says.
The Vault Pasta is another vegetarian, and popular, entrée. Auld describes it as light and refreshing.
The restaurant’s menu changes every three to four months, with dishes being rotated in and out due to season and availability. Diners will find that the menu offers variety in both price and types of dishes.
We give the diner the opportunity to have upscale wine and steak, and others come in to see the great space and order Chicken and Waffles or Pretzel Sliders for a more inexpensive option, Auld says. “The pricing is approachable so people feel comfortable.”
Auld makes weekly trips to the summer Cherry Street Farmers Market to ensure as much local produce is used as possible, as the seasons and the local climate allow; year round, all meat used is local and free range.
Recently added to the restaurant’s offerings are monthly gatherings: vegetarian wine dinners and cocktail classes.
The wine dinners consist of a four-course vegetarian dinner with optional wine pairings along with wine education. On Aug. 6, Three Springs Farm and Marshall Brewing Company will provide the food and drink, respectively.
Cocktail education classes offer participants opportunity to expand their craft cocktail knowledge, says Auld. Each class comes with four drink samples per person and hors d’oeuvres. On Aug. 21, prohibition cocktails will be highlighted, with infusions following in September.