Wow – what an incredible surprise! Just down the Kennington Road, between estates and the south circular, is this fabulous little French bistro and jazz club, Toulouse Lautrec. Run by Nolan and Florent, the sons of the owners of the next-door Lobster Pot, it has an upstairs wine bar and jazz club with regular live music events, a downstairs French brasserie, and a basement “cave” that you can hire out for private dinners.
El G came across it online and booked it for a celebratory christmas dinner – I couldn’t believe it when we stepped off the street and into this rustic, cosy bistro. We started upstairs in the wine/jazz bar listening to The Jazz in Paris Project which took me back to a smokey Parisian jazz club – with classics like My Funny Valentine, Sweet Dreams and French cafe songs (excited to see they do my favourite Edith Piaf song La Vie En Rose), as well as some jazzed-up Christmas songs.
Being a French place, they have a fantastic wine list with a glass of house champagne at £8.50; some delicious, great value wines like the Malbec we ordered at £19.50; and and uber posh wines “For the Wealthy Punters” . We ordered food upstairs – the menu was typically French – rich and tasty. El G had snails from Burgundy in garlic butter to start – they were juicy, succulent and salty – yum. I had a tasty goats cheese and mixed leaf salad. For mains, I had the confit duck with flageolots beans and red wine sauce which was rich and tasty, my only criticism being the skin could have been a tiny bit crispier – I’ve had it in France where underneath the blackened crispy skin the duck falls off the bone and melts in your mouth. El G had the pan-fried breast of pheasant with fondant potatoes, lardons and chestnuts with a truffle sauce – plump, rich and gamey.
The food seemed typical of Southern French cooking – I’ve had similar on holiday in the Dordogne – rich, tasty, and quite heavy – with the food and red wine I couldn’t manage anything more which was a shame as I was dying to try the cheese. We ended up back upstairs listening again to The Jazz in Paris Project for some digestifs (I ordered El G a double Jagermeister by mistake, think the excitment, champers and wine had got to me, oups) – and also checked out the outside smoking terrace – for research purposes, obv.
The waiting staff, manager and bar staff were all lovely and friendly – happy for us to go upstairs when we wanted, moving tables so we could see the music, and all seemed to enjoy being there. I would love to go back with friends (Niki you would LOVE it!), or with my mum next time she visits, and make a full night of it.
Toptable is doing a great offer there with 30% off food until 24 December – I’d really recommend you go, if only to have a glass of champers upstairs to listen to the music!