- 736 E. Market St., Louisville, KY, Louisville, KY, 40202
- (502) 569-4099
- Overall User Rating:
- (7 ratings)
- 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.
- Official Web Site:
Be the toast. That’s what I told myself one recent Saturday morning. At least I think that’s what I said — my memories of that day are coated in a thick glaze.
Anyway, it was one of those rare days when I had nothing productive on my itinerary. The golf courses were soggy. I felt no impulse to run out and buy stuff. I had already done enough procrastinating to get me through the next week. I looked into the future and saw nothing but bright, empty promise.
So toast I would have — and toasted I would be. And the best way to reach that state was to start out with a Bloody Mary at — where else? — Toast on Market. When George Morris, Amy Wepf and Lisa Wepf opened Toast on Market in August 2006, the East Market Street area was just on the cusp of becoming what it is today — an urban center that boasts some of the city’s most interesting restaurants and has a distinctive enough identity to earn its own name, NULU.
Back then, Toast had a hip, warehouse vibe (it occupied what had formerly been one of the city’s best junk shops, a place where my old pal Bob Johnson sold everything from ancient fishing lures to velvet Elvises). That space, on the 700 block, is now home to Taco Punk, and Toast has popped up a bit, both geographically and in style, to the space that once housed the popular restaurant Artemisia.
It’s a happy move, indeed. Now diners have a choice between the bricked, sheltered patio — a red, rustic space that has long been one of the most visually appealing patios in the city — or the calm, bright, nicely finished dining room, which has the calm, sophisticated look of an art gallery (which it once was). What’s more, a couple of years ago, Toast on Market opened a New Albany location (also on Market Street) that has an equally bright, cozy feel.
The two locations offer pretty much identical menus, and based on recent visits both offer excellent service. Visitors are quickly greeted at the door; owners seem always to be strolling through the premises making sure that guests are happy; and service is brisk and efficient.
Well, it’s brisk and efficient when you want it to be — at lunchtime. If you’re starting your day with a Bloody Mary, you may not care about such things.
You will care about the food, however. And it hasn’t changed much over the years. For instance, the omelets are still big, puffy things with a slightly leathery hide that strikes me as dull and charmless. The innards are stuffed with good stuff (like spicy chorizo, which releases a beautiful hint of orange oil that mixes with melted cheddar cheese to create a really luscious center, $8.75; or smoked salmon and cream cheese, $11.50), but I wish the dry exterior were as sensually appealing as the stuff in the middle. And I wish the hash brown casserole — which comes as a side with many dishes, and which sounds great — had the crisp look and crunch of hash browns, rather than the soft, creamy texture of an old-fashioned casserole.
But leave aside those reservations, and the rest of the menu has plenty of appeal. Thick slices of brioche-based French toast ($7.50) are drizzled with a piquant blue-purple berry sauce (and, if you like, a squiggle of whipped cream) to make an indulgent breakfast (and breakfast can be had during all service hours).
If you prefer something more tongue-tingling — a breakfast that pairs well with the jalapeno-infused Bloody Mary, perhaps — the aptly named toast and eggs ($6.25) also features the brioche, but this time the affair is dressed with a spicy house-made version of the North African hot sauce called harissa (have that with some runny-yolked or soft-scrambled eggs, and your day is off to a sizzling start). If you’d rather start with a citrusy pucker, you might breakfast on lemon souffle pancakes ($8.75) accompanied by a sparkling mimosa.
Most of my meals at Toast on Market come in the middle of days when becoming one with the toast is the last thing on my mind. And it’s at those busy times that I appreciate the bustling service ethos — and well thought-out, consistently executed sandwiches and salads.
Take crisp bacon, slices of toasted brioche and a dose of basil aioli, and you have the makings of a fine BLT ($7.25), which goes perfectly with an eggy potato salad so good you’ll want to buy some in bulk for your next family picnic.
Some of my friends are so committed to the California Club ($8.50) that the rest of the menu might as well not exist (with good reason, given that the grilled panini is stuffed with real turkey, bacon, provolone and fresh chunks of avocado).
As for me, I’m a fan of the Cobb salad ($9.50), a generous assembly of greens, bacon, hard-boiled eggs and tender chicken that could easily serve as lunch for two.