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Originally published January 5, 2010 at 7:00 PM | Page modified January 6, 2010 at 10:39 AM

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Happy Hour: Toulouse Petit's three daily happy hours let the good times roll

It's not easy to eat your way through the New Orleans-inspired Toulouse Petit's happy-hour menus.

Seattle Times staff reporter

At some point — for me it was the third column — you just need to rest your eyes from the sensory overload that is the happy-hour menu at Toulouse Petit. It features 56 food items.

That doesn't include the breakfast happy-hour menu.

Toulouse Petit is the New Orleans-inspired restaurant in Queen Anne that opened in November, though it feels like the old Mexican restaurant Peso's Kitchen and Lounge next door. That's because Brian Hutmacher owns both.

His French Quarter-inspired joint features three happy hours on weekdays. You'll need to eat at all three with a few friends to make a dent in the menus. (I'm sure somewhere, a few college students are making a game of it.)

Lots to like. The braised and fried Hemplers' bacon with Rhone demiglacé is as fatty and smokey as you would hope a nice hunk of bacon would be.

The beef sliders, layered with caramelized onions, are the best of the restaurant's many sandwich variations and pair well with the crunchy fries.

But Big Easy is the theme. You can do better. Like the barbecue shrimp, for instance, buttery and juicy. It's a misnomer since it's a skillet dish, one that has become trendy.

With such a large menu, the usual problems — especially inconsistency — arise: a shrimp rémoulade drowning in a mayonnaise base; a gumbo tasting fine one day but salty the next.

Its $5 breakfast happy hour is the better value — full-size brunch dishes, including the stellar crawfish étouffée and eggs over corn grits.

Toulouse Petit makes fine craft cocktails, ranging from dry and bitter to the sweeter sparkling variety.

But what a disappointing Ramos Gin Fizz, the new Mimosa and Bloody Mary around town. Its brunch version lacks the body, creaminess and tanginess of the true classic. Ramos is a time- and labor-intensive classic cocktail, one that a restaurant offering an epic happy hour menu should know better than to even try.

Toulouse Petit, 601 Queen Anne Ave. N., offers happy hour daily 4-5:30 p.m. and 10-midnight, and also on Mondays-Fridays you can get $5 breakfast from 9-11 a.m. ($6 after Feb. 1) (206-432-9069; Web page coming soon).

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com

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