Restaurant customers will always go completely nuts for anything homey or nostalgic, whether we’re talking about grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, or even toast.
Upscalified classified “Elevated” incarnations of the breakfast staple have been selling for upwards of $4 a slice in posh bakeries and coffee shops like The Mill in San Francisco, and while pricey artisanal toast has earned no shortage of derision, including the nickname “hipster toast,” it appears that hipster toast is the new cronut.
The Mill told Eater that their artisanal toast is so in demand that “over the past year its coffee menu has remained the same but its toast menu has greatly expanded.”
It has a toast menu. The first time I saw a restaurant boast about its water menu, I thought I was being Punk’d, but now there are restaurants advertising extensive toast menus. And The Mill’s has actually been doing really well. Despite the fact that the toast sells for $4 a slice, people are genuinely queuing up to buy it. Toast menus are proving successful all around California, and now, according to Eater, even restaurants in Minneapolis and Detroit are selling high-end slices with fancy, house-made toppings. With as quickly as this trend has been going, it’s a safe bet your local fancy bakeries will start trying it out soon as well. Not long after that, Starbucks will probably join in with a high-end toast product of its own.
I appear to be having some kind of Pavlovian reaction to this news. When I first saw the phrase “artisanal toast” I rolled my eyes so far I’m pretty sure I saw my own brain. But the more I type the word “toast,” the more I think of how good toast can be when it’s really, really good. Get a nice, thick slice of fresh, crusty bread, still warm from the oven, and smear it with ricotta cheese, rosemary, and honey. Or just cover it in salted, sweet cream butter and wait until the heat of the toast makes it all soft and melty.
And don’t forget cinnamon toast. You can’t forget cinnamon toast.
Paying $4 for a slice of toast seems ridiculous, but one isn’t paying that for a slice of Wonder Bread with a scrape of margarine at the local diner (not that that isn’t a treat in its own way). A thick slice of really good, fresh, whole-grain bread with house-made jam, peanut butter, or just really high-quality butter and honey sounds more delicious than more expensive bakery staples like doughnuts, muffins or scones.
I’m starting to see why The Mill says it sells 350-400 pieces of toast a day.
(Photo: Josey Baker Bread)