A cosy and quiet French brasserie, Toulouse Lautrec is a welcome addition to Kennington.
Toulouse Lautrec is located in a junction in between Kennington and Elephant and Castle and location-wise, it is a bit out of the way unless you live in the area. However, being situated a stone’s throw away from its big sister, the reputable Lobster Pot, must help. The brasserie has a combination of wooden booths and tables covered in white tablecloths in the restaurant downstairs and there is a small bar upstairs with comfy leather chairs and live piano music. Some evenings you might also be treated to the sounds of a live jazz singer.
The brick wall gives the restaurant a rural feel, and combined with the dark wood and light coloured walls elsewhere, means it’s both cosy and light at the same time. With the attentive waiters conversing with each other in French, you can almost image you’re across the Channel. Service is quick and efficient, although it can be quite quiet on weekdays. There is an open kitchen at the end of the restaurant and you can clearly hear the chef’s direction to his kitchen staff which can be rather distracting if you’re seated close by.
A cheaper, less exclusive alternative to the Lobster Pot, the menu offers two courses for £18 and three for £22, as well as specials written up on a blackboard. On the changing menu are what you’d expect from a typical French bistro; specialities such as frog legs fried in garlic, snails in white wine sauce, cote de boeuf and terrine of foie gras. There is also a plate de charcuterie, duck confit, Toulouse sausages and pork pate.
To start, the mussels in garlic sauce are absolutely heavenly. The mussels are large and lightly covered in a gorgeous garlic sauce that you’ll be mopping up with the lovely, fresh, crusty, country bread long after the mussels have gone. Mains include slow cooked shoulder of succulent lamb which literally falls of the bone, accompanied by vegetables and a creamy mint sauce. The dessert menu consists of poached strawberries in Grand Marnier syrup, chocolate fondant, apple tart, white peach and cherry sorbet and a French cheese platter. If you’re feeling full, the best option is the lighter strawberry dish.
Toulouse Lautrec sells wine starting from around £13 for a bottle, with the middle ground being around £15 to £22 and reaching up to £28. There is also desert wine (around £22) and Champagne available (starting at about £32 for a bottle and ending at about £85 for a bottle of Laurent Perrier Rose). Wine by the glass starts at £3.60 for a small glass.
The Last Word
Although it might be a bit out of the way, the food is lovely, the service is good and if you fancy good value French food in mellow surroundings it’s the place to be.