Le Louchebem, Toulouse.

“Louchebem” – Turn of the century, Parisian abattoirs, slang for “butcher”.

Few things in the culinary world are as good as food markets with in-situ restaurants. When you know for sure that the amazing produce downstairs will be available to order from the menu. Enter Le Louchebem. Perched above the historic marché Victor Hugo, and ensconced amongst a row of market restaurants, Le Louchebem is a family run business since 1947. Naturally the owners pride themselves of buying all their meats, fishes and vegetables from downstairs; and why wouldn’t you with a gem of a market situated right underneath you? The decor of the restaurant is minimal, because quite frankly it doesn’t have to be anything more than it is; if you are lucky enough to grab a table you will sit cheek and jowl with your fellow diners to enjoy some of the finest most succulent cuts of meat La haute Garonne has to offer.

I always enjoy getting a little bit brave when ordering local delicacies (jellyfish in Tokyo anyone?), so the breadcrumbed pig trotters with a harrissa dip for starters it was. For some reason I thought said hooves would contain at least a little of bit of meat, but on that day for the first time since I care to remember, I struggled to eat my dish. Perhaps I wasn’t anticipating the amount of pure gelatine and bones. But hey, I’m mega glad that I went for it, one off the list at least. To make up for this was my pave the size of a large fist with peppercorn sauce and the ubiquitous frites. A simple yet quasi religious combo. My visiting mother also hit a high note with the duck cassoulet, filling and delicious in equal measures.

If you find yourselves in Toulouse go check out the market (open every day excepts Mondays, 06:00 – 14:00) for a sensorial experience and to get your taste buds going, them make sure you get to the restaurants above early (half 12 is good) in order to jostle for a seat. Their set menus are great value for money and the whole affair is relatively inexpensive considering the produce you are being served. Plan nothing after that.

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