November 11 marked the opening of long-awaited Lower Queen Anne restaurant Toulouse Petit. The New Orleans–themed resto is cheffed by Eric Donnelly (formerly of Oceanaire) and staffed by a motley crew of bar and food talent from around Seattle—many of whom had a substantial role in building the place.
Call them kitchen-sink restaurants: operations that aim to meet the needs of just about everyone, whatever those may be. It’s kind of a Vegas thing; here in Seattle they are conceived of by people with huge aspirations and eager-to-please attitudes—people like Chef William Belickis of MistralKitchen, whose five different kitchens will be cooking you whatever you want starting in early December, and people like Brian Hutmacher of Toulouse Petit. He’s designed a New Orleans restaurant that is also a steak house and a small-plates destination. There is housemade charcuterie, there is fried alligator, there is a seafood tower, there is…everything. You have to go see this menu to believe it.
Eat dinner whenever! Happy hour, a cornucopia of food specials (terrines, rillettes, fried chicken bites), occurs from 4 to 5:30pm and again at 10pm to midnight. Dinner begins at 5:30, and from 10pm on you can snack it up in a low-lit loungey atmosphere.
“Petit” was added to the name after Hutmacher settled on the LQA corner next door to his wildy lucrative meathead magnet Peso’s Kitchen and Lounge. He had originally planned, and still dreams of opening, a larger format restaurant called simply “Toulouse.”
Wild Ginger veteran Shing Chin is the general manager at Toulouse Petit and the brains behind the wine list. Miles Thomas is tending bar along with fabled Tini Bigs ’tender Joe Jeannot and Jason Crume, formerly of Bricco.
The interior is as think-big as the menu. Hutmacher owns a woodworking shop in Eastlake and he and his staff designed the intricately inlaid tables. Chef Donnelly helped lay down the kitchen tile and, when I visited the day before opening, one of the bartenders was engaged in some very noisy ironworking. The floor-to-ceiling windows that line the street-side wall open up for fresh air in summer and offer a nod to New Orleans architecture. Hutmacher built those himself.
Toulouse Petit is now taking reservations for parties of all sizes. Go see if Hutmacher’s vision turned out to be your cup of tea. Or coffee. Or hot chocolate….Whatever you want.