Note: This restaurant has closed
What first attracted me to Toutatis was the name of the restaurant. As any Asterix aficionado will tell you, Toutatis is the great and powerful Gallic god that is invoked by the different characters whenever they show surprise or charge their Roman enemies. Loving Asterix as much as I do, I was therefore intrigued by a restaurant with that name.
The name, of course, was not accidental. The little Oakland restaurant was purposely named after the Gallic god and serves yummy, yet delicate, Breton crepes for lunch and dinner (unfortunately not for breakfast). We tried it one Saturday at noon, after shopping in downtown, and had an enjoyable though not terribly memorable experience.
I liked the atmosphere of the little creperie. It looks very much like a European café, it's located in an old Oakland building and sports very high ceilings, giving it a somewhat French panache. There is a little, simple garden in the back - probably quite pleasant when it's not cold and raining. The walls are decorated with paintings of rural scenes, and some of the tables show Asterix comics under the table (ours didn't). Still, while the atmosphere seemed right, it did not feel like a place to linger, I'm not sure why.
Service was good, more friendly than efficient. As all tables were either full or reserved, our waitress quickly set up a new one for Mike and I. The food came at good times, but the restaurant really should get more menus printed. When we visited they only had three paper menus to pass around all the tables.
As mentioned, Toutatis specializes in Breton crepes. They serve buckwheat savory crepes with salty fillings (as their equivalent of main dishes) (about $6) and sweet white-flour dessert crepes (about $4-5). Savory crepes come with cheese, meats and other similar fillings. Mike had a La Complet, which came with Swiss cheese, ham and an egg (he had it sunny side up, you can also have it scrambled). He liked it, though he thought it was too cheesy, but he wasn't overly impressed by it. I had a 3-cheese crepe, I forgot what kind of cheeses it was but I thought it was very good. However, it was a pretty light dish all in all. For dessert, Mike claimed he didn't want anything, but he ended up sharing my banana and chocolate crepe. Again, it was very good, but nothing too special.
I think the problem is that crepes, by themselves, are not particularly extraordinary things. They are not too difficult to make, and these did not offer any new flavors. I think that if I was in the mood for crepes, I would probably make them myself rather than going to Toutatis. On the other hand, if I got into the mood for crepes and was in downtown Oakland anyway, I'd probably go there.
In addition to crepes they serve a few pastries as well as soup and salad (we didn't have any). At least for weekend brunch, they serve a special low-alcohol apple cider. Though it sounded good, I'm pretty much avoiding all alcohol. Instead with had hot chocolate which came in large, handle-less bowls. It was a little too watery for my taste.
In all, we spent our usual $20-25, and we had a good time.