“Eat, Drink, Toast,” reads the sign outside of the aptly titled Toast, located just a Red Line shot away on West 65 Street. Entering into the restaurant, it’s easy to enjoyably do all three.
Toast’s homey interior is inviting, set aglow by the dim light of candles. The restaurant itself resembles an open country home with tables set and ready for a pleasant dinner party. Nondescript acoustic music plays in the background.
However, the real focal point of Toast is the bar, flanked by a myriad of wine bottles that have been artfully crushed and embedded in cement fixtures on the wall. While featuring a vast and unique array of wines and cocktails, many nonalcoholic drinks are also available. Water comes served in old jam jars. The spicy ginger beer on tap is particularly good. Opting for the house made cola is better still, as it’s sweet and Coke-like, elevated by a subtle note of ginger arriving in the aftertaste.
The menu at Toast is split into separate “acts,” with the appetizing brandade pierogi starting off the meal. The dumpling has a crust that breaks away immediately to reveal a cheesy and slightly fishy inside, featuring cured Pollock, cheddar and rich caramelized onions.
“The plot thickens…” as the restaurant’s unsurprisingly signature trio of toasts provides an ideal canvas for local Cleveland produce, some grown right in the restaurant’s small, urban farm lot. The first piece mixes the earthy tones of beets with the tartness of ramp cheese for a somehow satisfying result. Pancetta and pesto dominate the second piece, with the perfectly smoked texture of the meat playing off the pesto in a way that makes it seem almost zesty. The final (and best) piece of toast stars an always-classic combination of cream cheese and lox, beautifully complimented by a medley of fresh vegetables.
The main course also features salmon, which is this time seared and presented with a hollandaise sauce and an asparagus and wasabi arugula salad. For being the “main event,” this dish is small, but the deliciousness of the hollandaise sauce is almost enough to make it forgivable. The flavor is so full bodied and creamy that, by comparison, the typical collaboration of fish and tartar sauce is forgettable. The sharp acidic salad does a lot to bring out the natural flavors of the fish as well, although any hint of wasabi is missing. A lavish chocolate pistachio tart with flaky crust ends the meal on a high note.
There’s a lot to love and raise a glass to at Toast. The art of cooking is a delicate balancing act, and this is something that the restaurant’s inventive and tasty dishes understand well.
Highly recommended for any and all future dinners.