If you’re unlucky enough to reside in Richmond’s West End suburbs like myself, the opening of a new independent restaurant is a joyous occasion for anyone who’s sick and tired of predictably boring chains.
Toast opened its doors this August on Three Chopt and Patterson Road. The space isn’t a stranger to the restaurant industry. Toast was once City Limits which was once Potter’s Pub- an unfortunate tier of restaurant closings. Maybe the whole “third times a charm” expression will nourish Toast’s success- with fantastic food, of course.
The dark wooden finishes, vintage light bulbs, and burled wooden tables reminisce of Fan or Church Hill restaurant stylings. It isn’t until you peer out the front windows that you’re gazing into the parking lot of the Village Shopping Center. I despise shopping centers but it can cultivate surprise success- Peter Chang’s and Zorba’s do just fine.
I went to Toast for my birthday dinner and again for a double date so I’ve had chance to grub on many gastropub inspired menu items.
On my first visit to Toast, I made it in time for happy hour and I was pleased to find you didn’t have to sit at the bar for happy hour specials (unlike other places). I was delighted to order a house pinot noir for $4. Later, after doing a little research, I discovered this is was not just any wine, Toast has their vino on tap. Yes, on tap. Richmond’s first restaurant to have this, one of those hip newfangled “We did this before you did” thing that makes Toast stand out. As I sipped my wine, I couldn’t tell but it’s pretty darn cool.
On my first visit, my girlfriend and I started with the polenta corn dogs ($7), we hoped they’d be more of a mini corn dog so we were surprised when two big corndogs (stick and all) arrived at our table. They were ho-hum, I thought the polenta would be thicker with prominent texture but it was remindful of a normal corndog. Not a disappointment but not a star. I did enjoy the three dipping sauces it was served with- a sweet homemade ketchup, spicy mustard, and a tangy delicious bbq. For my main plate, I chose the vegetarian lasagna ($11) with squash, zucchini, eggplant, and ricotta topped with marinara. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a hit either. The bowl it was served in had too much over-baked crust around so I had to work my spoon around the sides to get a bite.
This meal wasn’t wonderful but I wasn’t ready to close the door on Toast just yet. Later that week, I suggested to another couple that we should all have dinner there.
Second round, we went on a Friday night. The mood was certainly alive and opposite of the quietness I experienced that Wednesday evening.
I chose the Hanover tomato sandwich ($9) with a side of mixed greens. This sandwich was a winner- the warm thick tomato slices, creamy goat cheese, and fresh brioche bun was perfection. The sandwich redeemed the bland experience I had before. The side of mixed greens however, was…mixed greens. Nothing else- no cucumbers, tomatoes, or anything you’d find common. Besides the ranch dressing- I was a little bored.
My dining companions were a little underwhelmed with their meals portion size. My lady chose a quinoa veggie burger and fries- the few bites I took, it was pretty good.
The hit was dessert- mini donuts served with Honey Mascarpone cream. The donuts are served warm in a bag, our waitress even gave the bag a little shake to make sure they were coated with the sugar and cinnamon. They were incredible and plentiful.
I’ll revisit Toast again soon. It’s close to home and I look forward to discover more menu offerings- even though I’m jonesing for the tomato sandwich and donuts.
Another plus- their Facebook page is updating constantly listing nightly specials, check it out here… http://www.facebook.com/ToastRva
So when your eyes roll with disdain after seeing another “Pick three for $15″ on Friday’s or Chili’s menu, please remind yourself there’s an un-chain restaurant in the ‘burbs , it’s called Toast. Give it a try.