Better late than never, I’m finally catching up on some long overdue posts on my eating adventures from late last year. While researching places to eat in the Seattle area, I came across Toulouse Petit, which is famous for their Cured Pork Cheek Confit Hash as the dish was featured on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate – Bang for the Buck episode. I found out that they were also voted one of the Ten Best Happy Hours in the Nation by CNBC. Their Happy Hour menu boasts 75 Food Preparations with more than 50 that are priced between $4 and $8. After perusing the menu, it didn’t come as a surprise that they were voted as one of the Top 10 in the nation as I don’t think I’ve ever come across such an extensive and impressive Happy Hour food menu before. Another great thing is that they have both an “Early Happy Hour”, which runs from 4pm to 6pm daily as well as a “Late Night Menu and Happy Hour” that runs from 10pm to 1am.
This was perfect for us as we had planned to hit up Elliot’s Oyster House for their Happy Hour so that we could get our fill of raw oysters earlier in the afternoon. With our bellies full of oysters, we were definitely in no shape to eat dinner at a decent hour. Hence, we headed to Toulouse Petit for their Late Night Happy Hour.
My friend C started off with a bowl of the True French Onion Soup Lyonnaise ($5). This French onion soup was made with rich beef stock and topped with cave aged Gruyère and onion confit. It was delish and easily one of the better French onion soups that I’ve had. The flavours were very well-balanced.
Based on our server’s recommendation, I tried a bowl of their Cauliflower Soup with Dungeness Crab ($5). Compared to the French onion soup, this Cauliflower Soup with Dungeness Crab was definitely the star of the show and the highlight of our meal. This was easily the best tasting cauliflower soup that I’ve ever had and hence, I put it on my list of ‘The Best Things I Ever Ate… in Seattle (2011)‘. The soup was rich, creamy, smooth, and velvety. I liked that they did not skimp on the crab either. The Dungeness crab pieces were tender, fresh, and flavourful. And I thought the drizzle of white truffle oil added a nice flavour to the soup. I couldn’t believe how good this cauliflower soup tasted as I didn’t expect much initially from a bowl of cauliflower soup. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have ordered it if our server had not recommended it.
Our server had also recommended we try the Crab Ravigote over Fried Green Tomatoes ($8). The slices of green tomatoes were lightly coated in a cornmeal crust and fried to perfection. On top of the crispy fried green tomatoes was a generous portion of Louisiana blue crab in a Tarragon-Chive Ravigote, which is a tangy white sauce seasoned with tarragon and chives. This dish was absolutely divine. The ravigote was light with the perfect amount of acidity that I could still taste the delicate sweet flavours of the blue crab. While the cauliflower soup was our favourite of the evening, this Crab Ravigote was a close second and hence, also made it on the my list of ‘The Best Things I Ever Ate… in Seattle (2011)‘.
Next up was the ‘Barbecued’ Shrimp New Orleans ($6), which consisted of jumbo barbecued shrimp seasoned in lemon, paprika, cayenne, garlic, and dixie lager and served over creamy corn grits. Though I’m normally not a huge fan of grits, I though these grits were pretty tasty and my friend C really loved them. The shrimps were cooked perfectly and really flavourful. Both my friend C and I agreed that this would be a dish we would order again on our next visit.
I wanted to try their Buttermilk Fried Chicken Bites with Tasso – Black Pepper Gravy ($5). The fried chicken bites were served in true Southern style over a bed of creamy mashed potatoes along with a biscuit. This dish tasted fine and the gravy was flavourful. However, personally, I’m not a huge fan of having fried chicken drenched in gravy. I prefer my fried chicken without the gravy so that I can enjoy the crispy coating. The peppery gravy was tasty with the creamy mashed potatoes.
Lastly, we tried the Chanterelle and Oyster Mushroom with a Wild Arugula ‘Salad’ ($6). The sautéed mushrooms were tasty but didn’t have much of a wow factor.
For dessert, we shared the Butterscotch-Banana Cream Pie ($6). The pie was rich and decadent but almost over the top considering how full we were after all the other dishes. The pie was tasty but a bit too rich and heavy for us.
We were stuffed silly for just over $50 including taxes. My friend C and I were most impressed with the Cauliflower Soup with Dungeness Crab and the Crab Ravigote over Fried Green Tomatoes. In fact, we both couldn’t stop thinking about the Cauliflower Soup all week while we were in Portland. Hence, we decided to stop by Toulouse Petit for Happy Hour on our way back to Vancouver, BC so that we could have the soup again.
On our second visit a week later, since we both couldn’t stop thinking about the Cauliflower Soup with Dungeness Crab ($5), we both decided to have it again. Unfortunately, on this visit, the soup was a big disappointment. It did not taste anything like the version that we had the previous week. The soup was more watery and bland. It was not nearly as thick, creamy, and flavourful as the version we had previously. I’m not quite sure what happened as all the elements of the soup seemed to be present but the consistency wasn’t quite right. I’m hoping the soup on this visit was just an anomaly and that on my next visit, it will be as good as I remembered it to taste. I’m willing to give the soup one more try on my next visit to Toulouse Petit.
Again, we shared the Crab Ravigote over Fried Green Tomatoes ($8). Fortunately, the Crab Ravigote over Fried Green Tomatoes was as good as the one from our first visit.
This time we also tried the Foie Gras with Pineapple-Vanilla Bean Conserva ($8), which was served over savory pain perdu. The Foie Gras was nicely seared and paired well with the pineapple conserva. While I wouldn’t say this is the most amazing foie gras I’ve ever had (that distinction actually goes to Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal), considering this dish was only $8, it well-prepared compared to disastrous foie gras that we had from the EuroTrash Food Cart a couple of days earlier while visiting Portland.
I love the concept of Happy Hour, especially one that has an extensive menu like Toulouse Petit. What’s great about the Happy Hour at Toulouse Petit is that the Happy Hour menu has many of the same items as their regular lunch/dinner menus except in smaller portions. With the smaller Happy Hour portions, it gives us the opportunity to sample more dishes on the menu and we’re not stuck with a huge portion of any one item that we really didn’t care for. And for the ones that we loved, we can always get a second order if we are still hungry.
Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge
601 Queen Anne Ave N