First Look: Toulouse Petit
New Year’s Eve morning found MO and me at the recently opened Toulouse Petit looking forward to enjoying "breakfast happy hour". This new New Orleans influenced restaurant has been serving lunch and dinner for several weeks but just recently opened for breakfast. To introduce Seattle to their breakfast menu and, presumably, to atone for any inconsistencies that might occur while they come up to speed they are offering (almost) any item on the breakfast menu for $5, from 9 a.m. till 11 a.m. Monday through Friday until January 31st.
We arrived about 30 minutes after they opened and already the place was packed! Of course this was a holiday or vacation day for many, but still I was surprised that shortly after 9:30 am there was a wait for a table. We were seated just before the line-up started and had plenty of time to take it all in as it seemed the staff was also surprised by the number of customers. Service from a customer perspective was rather leisurely, although we noticed the staff frantically running around trying to control the chaos.
This new space is absolutely gorgeous. Big windows light the large room during the day but there are very handsome light fixtures to brighten the spot at night. Custom plastered walls, cushy booths and yards of tile bring a warm ambiance to the space. I’d like to come back at night when votive candles line the walls.
The breakfast menu is extensive with probably 30 or more egg dishes, a handful of a la carte pastries or fruit plates and a few pancake entrées. It was hard to make a decision because everything sounded so good.
I finally settled on Red Beans and Andouille with Eggs and MO chose the Avocado and Tomato Eggs Benedict, just one of the several Benedict options. We started with coffee and tea. Both were served in French presses, which was a nice touch. MO originally ordered orange juice but we decided to cancel that order and instead to celebrate the holiday by indulging in a couple of the house special Creole Bloody Marys. They were perfectly spicy and a great morning drink. There are also several other "breakfast cocktails" on the menu.
The coffee and tea arrived fairly quickly but there was a rather long wait for the Bloody Marys, probably due to the packed house and only one person manning the bar. We feared we were in for a very long wait for our meal when a quick conversation with the people at the table next to us – who had ordered before we were seated – revealed they were still waiting for food after nearly an hour. We joked about the fact that with the $5 price we could handle a little disorganization by the servers and kitchen. However, it seemed that their food actually had been ready for some time as when they asked for an update, someone brought their order out and it turned out to be quite cold. The couple left without eating their meal and none of the staff seemed to make an effort to find out why or to correct the situation.
Our entrées showed up just a few minutes later – a little on the cool side but not horribly so. However, MO’s Avocado and Tomato Benedict had somehow turned into the Blue Crab Benedict. Our order was delivered by someone other than our server and since we did not see our server for several minutes MO opted to stick with the crab. However, the crab Benedict was one of the few offerings that was priced higher than $5. While this was not an issue for us, it may have been upsetting to someone else. Our server never did realize she’d made an error and punched in the wrong order and we didn’t call it to her attention.
The meal was excellent. I loved my beans and andouille. The eggs were not cooked as I’d ordered but were close enough. MO’s Benedict was very good but also very rich. Based on these two dishes I look forward to trying more of the menu in the future.
When the check arrived we mentioned to our server that the orange juice that had been cancelled in lieu of the Bloody Marys was still on the bill. She took the check to correct it and then kind of disappeared. After some time, we placed credit cards on the table in anticipation of the check being returned. Instead the server swept them up, ran them against the bill and returned with charge slips without ever having removed the orange juice from the bill.
While I had expected some kinks in the service or from the kitchen, I was rather surprised at the number and extent of the issues that I saw around us. Since the opening had been several weeks ago I would have expected a much smoother operation, even though breakfast service was new. In our case, it was a little hard to tell if we had a particularly scatter-brained and disorganized server or if she only appeared to be due to more systemic issues. I am willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt since breakfast service was still very new to them and because the food was so good. But I do hope when I return in a few weeks that there is a huge improvement. Until then we’ll just wait to see what happens.
601 Queen Anne Ave N
Lower Queen Anne