Restaurant Review: Toast Bar

A few weeks ago I was in the midst of an ordinary conversation with my sister—“ordinary” meaning “food-related,” as are 82% of our conversations—when she mentioned a new café that had opened near her apartment in Grandview, Ohio.  She casually tossed out the words “toast flight” and my world was forever changed.  Evidently, hot-shot bread-maker and local celebrity Dan the Baker had recently opened Toast Bar, where you can go and make all your gently-roasted artisanal carbohydrate dreams come true.

So to Toast Bar we went.  The location was pretty terrible, honestly—in a largely industrial area off of a four-lane highway, it was not particularly pedestrian-accessible.  We had to cut through a remarkably smelly parking lot piled with old tires in order to get to the building complex from our attack angle, but all was forgiven as soon as we stepped through the door.

The décor was very coffee-shop fresh, with a pleasing combination of rustic touches and industrial-chic fixtures.  I was digging it already.  The barista—whose hair happened to be partly dyed the same gentle teal as the walls (probably not intentionally but weirdly aesthetically satisfying, nonetheless)—happily gave us the run-down.  While they have a decent number of alternative food options on the menu (pastries, soup, a few open-faced sandwiches), the whole point of being at Toast Bar was to experience the toast flight—your choice of three types of bread and three different toast-toppings.

My sister and I shared our toast flights, so between us there were six different breads and six different toppings.

The loaves:

  • smoked sprouted rye
  • sunflower flax
  • 2X sesame
  • einkorn
  • pecan raisin
  • garlic asiago

The spreads:

  • Marmite
  • grapefruit curd with cream cheese
  • mushroom mash (I don’t actually remember what this one was called)
  • apple butter
  • raspberry preserves
  • strawberry preserves

toast bar

Let me just start by saying that all of the bread was heavenly.  To be fair, I’m a complete sucker for hand-made bread in the first place, but on the other hand I just returned from Italy about a month ago (yes, I’m that asshole) so my bread standards are pretty high right now.  The einkorn was quite a versatile bread—the grain being an “ancient” type of wheat which, as far as I know, has not been hybridized.  Basically, it tasted the way you expect bread to taste.  Einkorn aside, each of the other loaves seemed to have its own context, if you will—a flavor pairing to suit it best.  All extremely well-crafted, the smoked sprouted rye and the 2X sesame are standouts for their rarity and general deliciousness.  A+, Dan the Baker.  Job well done.

I know no one’s too terribly interested in the spreads, but—let’s be real—nobody eats just plain toast so it’s worth a mention anyway.  The fruit preserves were pretty standardly yummy, and the mushrooms were made without dairy which made my vegan sister quite happy.  This was my first encounter with Marmite—a New Zealand-manufactured yeast extract spread.  It was strange.  Very salty, very…goopy.  It wasn’t my favorite, but it also wasn’t bad, you know?  I think it’s something that would grow on me, given the chance.  Also it’s got a whole bunch of protein packed in there, so that’s something worth coming back for.

The grapefruit curd was easily my favorite topping.  Dessert for breakfast?  Okay, I’m sold.  It was sweet and tangy and delightfully mellowed out by the cream cheese that accompanied it.  I need more of this stuff in my life, pronto.

The flights were $5.50 a pop, which is admittedly sort of expensive (by my bank account’s standards, anyway) for three pieces of toast and accoutrements when you can buy an entire loaf of the same crusty goodness for $7-10.  The experience is worth the occasional indulgence, though—especially given that so much of their menu is on rotation.  A perfect brunch spot for the weekends and a good place to pick up that evening’s bread loaf before you get to work in the morning.

Post and Photo by Alicia Goshe.