While there are a handful of other French restaurants in Mount Pleasant, Bistro Toulouse earned a place of honor on Mount Pleasant Magazine’s “Best Of” list thanks to its great service, culinary creativity and high-quality food and drink.
Owners Candice Mahala and Matt Schulz met while attending The Culinary Institute of America. They’ve spent 15 years working around the East Coast – Mahala as a cook, pastry chef and catering manager and Schulz cooking in fine dining kitchens. Most recently, Schulz worked with French and Belgian chefs in Washington, D.C., where he mastered the art of French cooking.
“This is the type of food we love; it’s comfort food,” said Mahala. “Onion soup gratiné, steamed mussels. These are dishes we crave.”
While daily specials offer a wide variety of modern interpretations of French dishes, and a section of the menu evolves based on seasons and customer suggestions, Schulz keeps the most popular items, such as Steak & Frites, available year-round.
The Bistro Toulouse team uses only fresh ingredients and boasts extensive beverage options. With more than 20 different wines offered by the glass, Mahala designs the wine program to offer producers and varietals not typically found in other restaurants and that pair well with the menu. Weekly “Wine Wednesdays” feature $10 off all bottles of wine. Classic and creative cocktails, along with craft beers, also change with the seasons.
“Food and beverage together create an experience,” Mahala said. “That’s what we do at Bistro Toulouse, and I think that’s why we’ve become a town favorite.”
Farm to French
“Toulouse” is a city in the South of France, but Bistro Toulouse is a restaurant newly minted in Mount Pleasant – and ready to serve up some delicious local items with French flair.
Open for about six months, the restaurant is making a habit of using plenty of regional items – even shrimp from Shem Creek and Beaufort.
“We wanted a French-style restaurant that still used ingredients from the Southeast,” explained Candice Mahala, who co-owns the restaurant along with Matthew Schulz.
Indeed, some of the centerpieces of entrees at Bistro Toulouse, though exotic, are surprisingly local. The quail is from Manchester Farms in Columbia, South Carolina, and the pork, which Schulz uses for homemade sausage, comes from Heritage Farms Cheshire Pork in Seven Springs, North Carolina. Vegetables are typically picked up at Boone Hall in Mount Pleasant or at Mount Pleasant’s Farmers Market on Tuesdays.
“I try to scout out local produce at least a couple of times each week,” Schulz said.
A key menu item at Bistro Toulouse for late summer and early fall is ratatouille, with seasonal vegetables such as eggplant, bell peppers and onions. As the weather gets cooler, patrons will enjoy beef bourguignon, stews and autumn vegetables such as spaghetti squash and walnuts.
Bistro Toulouse is in the Sea Island Shopping Center. To learn more, visit www.bistrotoulouse.com or call 843-216-3434.
By Anne Toole