The team at Toulouse Petit is proud of the restaurant’s 85,000 Italian mosaic tiles and 40,000 glass tiles. I’m told that Chef Eric Donnelly (formerly of Oceanaire Seafood Room) even helped install a few of them.
When I first opened Toulouse’s menu, it seemed like there were 125,000 items from which to choose. I’m pro-choice, but this was way overwhelming.
Luckily, our group consisted of four hungry diners, so we were able to order a mini amount of the menu items. And you’ve got to love any menu that starts with a section called “Foie Gras, Tartares, and other Curiosities…” (I also love the very brief “Tonight’s ‘Token’ Meatless Entree” section!)
Wanting to sample all things Cajun, Creole and beyond, we got vast amounts of food, which came fast and furious at times. (The low lighting conditions made shooting photos challenging, but check out the gallery below.) The charcuterie was good, all-in-all, and I liked the spicy beef tartare. Oysters were clean and crisp. And salads were nicely dressed.
Perhaps the highlight of the meal was Toulouse’s version of Galatoire’s “Crab Maison.” The fried green tomatoes were perfectly cooked, and topped with Louisiana blue crab with tarragon-chive ravigote. Exquisite.
Jambalaya and crawfish etouffee were must-orders. Rich-tasting, but the dishes seemed to suffer a bit by sitting too long in the kitchen. The crispy fried duck confit (over red beans and andouille “cassoulet”) was a hit with some at the table, but dryer than I like. Sides were smashing, including oh-so-creamy corn grits and corn of a different variety – with tasso macque choux.
After all that, we still managed to find room for dessert. The favorite was white chocolate bread pudding (with sauternes custard, bourbon-vanilla zabaglione, and vanilla bean ice cream), with the least favorite being the highly anticipated beignets. I’ve had crispier beignets elsewhere, and we all commented that we would have preferred chocolate dipping sauce instead of the murky-colored chicory anglaise.
I wonder if the massive menu, while certainly impressive, could be creating some problems in the kitchen. As much as it makes ordering a challenge, from the kitchen side I’d think it might make more sense to scale back and try to execute fewer dishes to further perfection.
Still, it’s a little hard to complain when so many choices await, and the same holds true for breakfast – which may be the best bargain in town at five dollars (for almost all items) if you go from 9 to 11 weekdays until the end of January. From scrambles to sweets, there’s so much to sample. Of the seven eggs benedict choices, the bottom one caught my eye and captured my heart: “Eggs Hussarde” with Snake River Farms ham and veal shallot pan sauce. I essentially licked the plate clean, as the rich sauce was the perfect counterpoint to the lemon hollandaise. People talk about Peso’s as an ideal breakfast spot, but a new favorite is emerging right next door.
Breakfast and lunch afford a daylight opportunity to see all those tiles, as well as the other intricate details that add to the spectacle of Toulouse. The setting is especially entrancing in the evening – though I’d hate to be the person who has to light the 125,000 candles each night.