Every day in London you walk past a million cafes and restaurants in which you will never eat a morsel. Sometimes the thought of all that uneaten food, those unconsumed meals makes me sad. But then again, what was it Lincoln said? “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool then to speak out and remove all doubt.”
On the third day of Christmas my true love was planning to give me three French Hens but honestly my house was already full of God damn eating shitting squawking birds, so instead we determined to eat French food at the cafe Toulouse Lautrec.
Oh the folly of one who knows not what she has done!
Toulouse Latrec is a cafe near my place of employment, which I have walked past on a frequent basis. Because of it’s lurid paint job and prolific signage, it stuck in my mind. I was never entirely sure if it was a cafe, a restaurant, a jazz bar or brasserie and even after eating there I’m still not sure. I don’t think they really know what they are doing there either.
Our waitress was a sweet, polite girl but utterly clueless about what a waitress does or how to do service. She had the overall ability of someone on their first day but with no one at all showing her what to do.
We were the only patrons in the restaurant for the full hour we were there so I guess the lunch rush isn’t a thing for them. We were given 5 different menu most of which only had food we couldn’t order (dinner specials, bar snacks etc.) We didn’t get a drinks menu or the lunch menu and when I asked a question she looked down at me with empty eyes and asked “What is it you are here for? Brunch perhaps?” It was 1pm on a Wednesday.
After she fucked up sending our order through the expensive looking computer system, the chef came out to loudly complain about her to someone, a manager or owner perhaps, well within earshot of our table. If what you are looking for is a full on Faulty Towers vibe, then this is your place. The whole time we were there it felt as though we were interloping somewhere we were not supposed to be. I constantly felt like I had made a mistake and that they were just serving us to humour me.
But beyond the hilarious service and the half an hour it took to make me a cheese and ham toastie… The bathroom is on the second floor, up a great wooden set of stairs. With only 2 stalls, I’m confused as to how so few toilets could work, on an evening when they have more than a handful of customers. Perhaps that has never been an issue.
One sink and one had drier in a live music venue, in a two floored restaurant seemed pretty scant to me. But then again they likely spent all the money they had paying the salaries of the 6-8 staff members who were there serving just my husband and I.
The toilet had a cool old fashioned, high-set cistern which I always like, but rather than keep it looking nice, clean and tidy, the plaster was molding and falling off the wall. While the flush pull was held together with a zip tie.
I enjoyed the floral toilet bowl and matching sink, though I’m not sure why they they were so fancy when everything else was so sparse and cheap.
As far as my needs when I’m panicking, this place would be a nightmare. When I went up to use the loo, our waitress was standing in the bathroom staring blankly at herself in the mirror. Not sure if she was upset or just confused about how doing a job works. The glass door from the bathroom proper looks out into the restaurant and can see into the doorway of the men’s loo. So if you were standing at the sink trying to get your shit together, anyone heading in to the men’s could see you. That would make me super uncomfortable if there were other customers in the restaurant (again I’m not sure if that has been or ever will be an issue).
Cleanliness : 5/10 Most likely, there had been no other customers that day so the bathroom should have been perfect. It was “clean” but it needed refurbishing badly or at least a new coat of plaster and a scrubbing of the grimy grout.
Interior : 3/10 No space, two stalls and nothing to make it feel private. I imagine our waitress spends a whole lot of her shift standing in the bathroom rather than doing her job, so you may never get a totally private visit.
Exterior : 3/10 The restaurant staff were polite but seemed confused about how to customer service, or how professionalism works.
Safety : 3/10 No immediate physical danger but the general mood of the place made me feel apologetic and uncomfortable, and who knows when the blank-eyed girl who served us would finally lose it and stab everyone in sight. While she incorrectly poured my diet coke, from a bottle into a warm glass, sitting flat on the table so it was all foam and no coke, she looked at me with the cold dead eyes of a killer. I feared I might end up buried under the floor boards like the last foolish customers who walked in thinking a place advertising lunch, might genuinely serve them lunch.
Snugglitude : 1/10 Only point given for comedy value and the fact that my cheese and ham toastie wasn’t terrible.
Total : 15/50
I wonder if this place is just a front for a drug running cartel? That would make more sense than a business this bad making enough money to afford central London rental prices.