[This is the first entry from a guest blogger to whom I have given the clever user name of “YoungFoodie.” In case I am being too subtle, she is young, and likes food. Obviously this is a review written more along the lines of a newspaper article than a blog entry, but it’s fun and amusing.]
Toast Restaurant in Montclair New Jersey has a young, welcoming diner-like ambiance with a unique, unexpected menu. The restaurants motto, “a place for family, friends and great food”, is a perfect way to describe this comforting place to grab breakfast, lunch or brunch.
Upon walking into Toast, the instant aroma of warm syrup and bacon made me and my mother’s stomach growl. Looking around at the friendly atmosphere filled with old pictures, vintage signs, and old fashioned milk cartons made me feel as though I was at an old diner, rather than at a young restaurant with a diverse menu for all sorts of appetites. We were instantly welcomed by a young college age student as if we had known each other for years. The young waiter, who he introduced himself as Tom, walked us to the back of the restaurant, where we would be choosing to sit being that it wasn’t too crowded on a Wednesday, (weekends, forget about it). I was surprised to see a second level, the same large size as the first. While walking up the wood creaking stairs that reminded me of my grandmothers, I noticed a coffee bar filled with espresso machines and different flavored coffees complete with fresh baked muffins and breads from the local bakery, Montclair Bread Co. As we sat down with a pitcher of ice cold water and two glasses waiting for us, we scanned the menu when suddenly I had the dilemma of deciding which entree to get.
Not only are there classic breakfast staples like pancakes, waffles and French toast, but there are also interesting takes on omelets like one that includes sliced grape tomato, avocado, and Monterey Jack garnished with sour cream and homemade salsa, called the “California Scramble” served with breakfast potatoes and the customer’s choice of white, wheat or multi-grain toast on the side all for just 7.95. Although the various wraps, sandwiches and one-of-a-kind salads, like one that includes blackened tuna, Mesclun greens, avocado and toasted sesame seeds with a homemade honey lime cilantro vinaigrette for $13.95, looked mouth-watering, I decided that I wanted some good old’ breakfast. Thinking about the warm maple syrup and pure whipped butter smothered on top what’s called the Island Girl Waffle for $8.95, homemade waffles with pineapple, mango and toasted coconut made me think of being on a tropical vacation instead of Montclair, NJ in early April.
Aside from the delicious looking food and homey surroundings, I could not get past the cold temperature. Both my mother and I could not bring ourselves to take off our north face fleeces because of the seemingly large draft that was right over both of our heads. Being serious food lovers, not only the meals but the environment needs to be ideal in order to achieve the full dining experience. As politely as possible, we mentioned to a man who was cleaning off the table adjacent to ours the issue and he gladly raised the temperature to our delight.
When the waiter came over just as enthusiastically as when he welcomed us, it was ordering time. My mother wasted no time ordering her favorite Huevos Rancheros, two corn tortillas layered with two lightly fried eggs, Manchego cheese, tomatillo sauce, and frijoles with a side of breakfast potatoes and toast (she opted for fruit salad instead) for 7.95. While my mother was finishing her order, I saw another young waiter carrying the most appetizing looking wrap I had ever seen to another table. Quickly scanning the menu one more time, I impulsively ordered a wheat wrap with turkey, avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato, sprouts and Havarti cheese with a homemade honey mustard dressing called the Toast Turkey Wrap for $8.25. When the waiter then informed me that I had my choice of hand-cut sweet potato fries or a salad (with one of the many house-made dressings), I figured I would be healthier and go with the salad alongside raspberry vinaigrette. From the corner of my eye, I saw my mother frown as I turned down the fries. Avid sweet potato fry fans, we decided to get an order for us to share (what’s a meal without some fries?).
When the surprisingly fast food came to the table, we were ready to eat. The portions were the ideal sizes for us; not too big, not too small. Everything was hot, high quality and fresh. The vinaigrette on my salad was not too sweet like most raspberry dressings, and without me asking, it was put in a container on the side unlike the usual restaurant-served salad that is more like soup with lettuce, than a salad. The sweet potato fries were well-done, not oily nor heavily salted. Both of our entrees were delicious; I could not ask for a better wrap. The smoothness of the avocado was a perfect in contrast to the crunchiness of the well-done bacon and sweetness of the honey mustard. The eggs in Huevos Rancheros were cooked to perfection and the generous fruit salad had unique fruits like mango and kiwi that are not normally served.
With nothing left to be eaten and our stomachs full, we were given the check. After paying and giving the friendly waiter a generous tip, we got up from our seats, and instantly noticed how incredibly filled the restaurant became in the 45 minutes that we spent there. One tip for future diners: avoid coming on weekends, as well as usual eating hours to steer clear of crowds. This is a very desirable spot for locals so unfortunately, waits become frequent. If anyone was visiting Montclair for the first time, I would definitely recommend eating at Toast. The friendly atmosphere, great food, and fair prices are what make this restaurant one of a kind.