In a previous post about Toast, a new breakfast and lunch place in town that's now serving dinners four nights a week, I mentioned I'd heard good things about that new evening effort. After hearing more good things, it was get over and try it or risk standing there with my mouth open and no words coming out the next time the subject came up.
Located in the former home of Angie's Bad Ass Video (yes, I know, "badass" is supposed to be one word, but porn shop owners aren't generally known for their literary abilities), you could say that the descriptor is still applicable because this place has got some seriously badass chops, that is to say they've got some "formidable strength or skill," in the kitchen.
We started with the brand-new-to-the-menu smoked trout appetizer, tender flaked chunks tucked between thin slices of apple and potato with a sprinkling of fresh tarragon, surrounded by a light horseradish vinaigrette. To say this is close to the perfect appetizer is not mere hyperbole. With the slight zing of horseradish and the sweet crunch of the apple complementing the smokiness of the trout, my mouth was about as happy as it could get.
We also had the soup du jour, a creamy squash number that had the perfect balance of squashy flavor and smooth, silky texture. It would have been a bit better if they'd taken a page from the soups served at Café Castagna and left out all but one of the light, buttery croutons, but that's a minor quibble when soup is this good. And, as a beet-lover, the golden beet salad with golden raisins, walnuts and frisee tossed in a banyuls vinaigrette was delightful and even Dave, who's not a big beet guy, said it was the best he'd had (which means maybe now we can have more at home!).
A round of rock, paper, scissors was required to determine who would get the pork shoulder with kale on a bed pf polenta and who would get the oxtail au jus on spaetzle, but fortunately no one was the loser on either count (sorry about the fuzzy picture but I couldn't wait to dig in!). The shredded oxtail was incredibly tender and juicy with a deep beefy flavor only enhanced by the stock reduction poured over it, and the spaetzle was a nice departure from mashers. And the sweetness of the braised-to-the-point-of-falling-apart pork shoulder was terrific with the wilted kale.
The '06 Nelms Road Cabernet I ordered was perfect with the oxtail, and Dave opted for a pint of the darkly seductive Ninkasi Otis with his pork shoulder and, since he wasn't going to be having dessert, he followed that up with a pint of Clinton Street Brewing's IPA. What's impressive is that both are quirky choices and excellent brews, a sure sign that these guys not only know what they're doing but what they like.
Though we really shouldn't have, we opted to order the brownie with homemade maple ice cream and a nut crisp slicing into it, and needless to say it was completely over-the-top delicious.
Prices are in the moderate range, but the food is top-flight and deserves a devoted following. All I can say is, "Sign me up!"
Details: Toast, 5222 SE 52nd Ave. at Steele. Dinner, Wed.-Sat., 5:30-9:00 pm. Phone 503-774-1020.