A few weeks back, I treated myself (and my music lovin’ buddy Andrew Matson) to dinner at Toulouse Petit — the new New Orleans-styled Lower Queen Anne brasserie that’s had tongues wagging here, there and everywhere. Trust me: your tongue would wag too if you got a good look at Toulouse’s extensive dinner menu, showcasing seafood, steaks, charcuterie and the kind of dishes you’d expect to find if you were tooling around the French Quarter in search of something other than a frozen daiquiri. It’s a menu I’d be happy to show you, if only they’d get it up on their (presently non-existent) Web-site. Meantime, here’s some professional food porn — oops, I mean a photographic preview — to tantalize your tastebuds:
These `Barbecued Shrimp” are flown in from the Gulf Coast, and served over creamy corn grits. (photo: Lara Ferroni)
They’re grinding ribeye, skirt steak and short ribs to create the $11 Toulouse beef burger. The cave-aged Gruyere, Stilton bleu and Dixie beer are optional. (photo: Lara Ferroni)
No, I didn’t try this pecan tart, but that doesn’t mean you should hold back. (photo Lara Ferroni)
Toulouse Petit’s not-so-petite menu is the purview of chef Eric Donnelly (late of Oceanaire Seafood Room and the Hotel Monaco’s Sazerac), now plying his trade here at Queen Anne Avenue North and Mercer Street. You’ll also find GM Shing Chin running the front of the house — as he did at the Wild Ginger as well as at his own restaurant, the late Ovio Bistro. “Hot Dog” Joe Jeannot and Miles Thomas (who produces his own line of bitters) are mixing it up behind the bar along with Jason Crume (who co-founded Queen Anne’s neighborhood wine bar, Bricco).
This bejeweled joint is one sexy number, dressed up with comfortable booths and flattering lighting. Those numbers include 85,000 Italian mosaic tiles, 40,000 glass tiles and 5000 pounds of plaster — among other prettifications.
Cushy booths, plenty of classic cocktails. And yes, they’ll make you a Sazerac to go with your fried alligator. (photo: Lara Ferroni)
If the floor-plan reminds you of a glam version of next-door-neighboring Peso’s Kitchen & Lounge (as it did my pal Andrew) there’s an explanation: both are owned and operated by the same guy, Brian Hutmacher, who spent his formative restaurant years at Wild Ginger, and was there at the start when Peso’s opened in 1998. Brian originally tended bar, and soon after bought the place with his brother Allen, who now owns and operates the Mexican restaurant Azul in Mill Creek.
But enough about them! What about my dinner at Toulouse? I’ll tell you this much: it was fabulous from start to finish. Starting with a combination of fresh Louisiana blue crab and fried green tomatoes with tarragon-chive sauce ravigote (a terrific take on Galatoire’s classic crab maison). And ending with the best steak frites I’ve had in recent memory: a 12-ounce ribeye with a veal-shallot-butter sauce that was food enough for two served at a very reasonable $22.
OK, so I’m not Lara Ferroni. But I am exceedingly fond of ribeye cuts and butter-sauced steak frites.
And now comes more news from Toulouse: beginning today, they’re serving petit dejeuner (you call it breakfast) in addition to lunch. What’s more, in a generous attempt to introduce newcomers to the joys of dining here, Hutmacher and crew are offering a big-time breakfast promo. Between now and January 31st, you can enjoy “Breakfast Happy Hour” from 9 a.m. till 11 a.m. Mondays through Fridays when (almost) every item on the breakfast menu is only $5.
For your perusing pleasure, here’s a pdf of the breakfast and lunch menu . Given the quality of my dinner, I can’t believe they’re selling crawfish etouffee and eggs, a Croque Madame with pommes frites, cured pork cheeks confit, and Bananas Foster pancakes for a mere $5 each (take that, Denny’s!). But I can believe the exceptions to the $5-rule are the the 8-ounce ribeye and eggs (regularly $18, discounted to $10 during happy hour) and the Louisiana blue crab eggs Benedict (regularly $14.50, $9 at happy hour).
Did I mention they’ve also got free Wi-Fi? And that they’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily?