Sunday, November 15, 2009

Welcome to the 'hood: Toulouse Petit

I call a little apartment in Seattle's Lower Queen Anne (LQA) neighborhood home for the time being. I like that pretty much anything I need is accessible by foot. A ten minute walk will get me to a handful of coffee shops (Caffe Ladro or Uptown Espresso are my cups of choice), grocery stores (I'm semi-embarrassed about how much of my paycheck Met Market gets), a few dry cleaners (convenient, because I am awful at ironing), nail salons, a post office...and Bartell's for pretty much everything else.

There's also of course a bunch of bars and decent restaurants, but not a lot of spots I get really excited about. Sure, I'm fine grabbing a cocktail at the Sitting Room, having a glass of wine and an appetizer at Ten Mercer's bar or taking some Panang curry from Tup Tim Thai to go. But I think LQA has been in bad need of a new spot for a better, sit down meal for awhile.

Lucky for me (and my neighbors), Toulouse Petit--a French Quarter inspired restaurant/lounge--opened it's doors this week. I've been walking by this place for the past year, peering in the big windows and trying to get a glimpse of what was going on in there. Now I know. Good, good things have been happening in that green, stucco-painted building.

My boyfriend and I slid into a big wooden booth for a late dinner on the place's second night open, and I was ready to claim it as our new neighborhood spot (though, come to think of it, I guess we never really had an old neighborhood spot) as soon as my drink hit the table. (A pretty Kir Royale in a flute so big that I saw the champagne and creme de cassis blending in front of me. Fun.)

The place is pretty and big. We took in the mosaic tiles, dark wood, big windows and textured walls in between slurps of oysters from the half shell that were served with a spicy remoulade that tasted like cocktail sauce but thicker, tangier and better. They also came with a mignonette, but all I got from it was a vinegar taste that did nothing for me. We followed the oysters with shrimp cakes that were crisp but not crunchy, almost like they'd been broiled versus pan-fried. I swore I tasted a hint of mustard in the sauce that accompanied the cakes and the little greens on top of them. Delicious.

Almost as delicious as the duck confit we shared as an entree. We debated the steak frites but somehow decided a duck leg rendered in its own fat and served over lentils would be a less indulgent choice for a 10:00p.m. dinner. (Logical, I know.) Probably not the case, but I didn't care either way because this thing was amazing. The duck was crispy on the outside but moist on the inside. The lentils were the perfect texture of soft but not mushy and soaked up a gravy like sauce that helped a slight, sweet flavor (cinnamon, I think) sing. I couldn't do dessert but saw beignets on the menu so will undoubtedly be giving them a go during my next trip (I love you friend dough). I'd also like to try the crab appetizer served over fried green tomatoes, the lamb burger and the charcuterie.

All in all, I'm an early but big fan. Kudos to Brian Hutmacher (who also owns Pesos) and team for taking their time and turning the space into something special. My biggest hope is that the late night Pesos crowd doesn't claim Toulouse Petit as a second spot on their bar hopping docket. Otherwise, I'm looking forward to having afterwork cocktails, dinners with the girls, Sunday brunches and steak frites with pan veal sauce just steps away.

What's your favorite neighborhood spot?


  1. absolutely awesome entry, Ambrosia! My fav neighborhood haunts is Eva in Tangletown for upscale and Chef Liao on Phinney for cheap eats.

  2. Love Eva. Went there with the boy in the early days. Way fond memories. Never been to Chef Liao. Just looked it up though and looks delicious. Thanks, JZ!

  3. They've also got their breakfast happy hour going on till the end of January. Impressions and details can be found here (since they don't have a website)