No, you're not having a stroke—that burnt toast smell is the aroma of a trend sweeping the nation: artisan toast. Guffaw if you will, but stand-alone toast with tasty toppings is a real thing, and it has spread itself into Portland’s own restaurant scene.
The trend: “Artisanal” toast is thickly sliced bread—from homestyle white to grainy, seedy wheat offerings or slightly sweet brioche—transformed by the one-and-only Maillard reaction (aka toasted) and slathered with spreads or layered with toppings. Sure, you could call them warm, open-faced sandwiches, but we're happy to hearken back to one of our favorite childhood foods, all too often relegated to the side of a breakfast combo or, even worse, substituted for a pancake or a side of fruit. You're welcome, toast. It's your time to shine.
Here are a few local places embracing the scrumptious, borderline-silly trend and toasting up loaves by the slice:
- The Sugar Cube’s toast plates, served with Little T Baker’s Sally Lunn bread, include butter and Bee Local honey, preserves, housemade lemon curd, housemade nutella with olive oil and sea salt, or almond butter with caramelized banana and sea salt. 3039 NE Alberta St
- Poa Café serves mashed avocado on whole grain toast, complete with spicy red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of sea salt. Feel free to add melted provolone cheese or request gluten-free toast, too. 4025 N Williams
- Roman Candle Baking Co.’s toast options are many. Choose seasonal jam, butter, “Nutella,” honey, or bee pollen on toasted raisin-walnut or super grain. Or level up with toasts featuring grappa-cured salmon, crème fraîche, avocado and arugula, or egg salad, bacon, olive oil, arugula and lemon. 3377 SE Division Street
- Oso Market + Bar's toast-like montaditos include choices like cremeux, fig, honey, arugula, and balsamic reduction or bresaola (dried, salted beef), tomato-mint jam, Parmesan, and basil served atop focaccia. 726 SE Grand Avenue
- Vegan restaurant Prasad offers New Cascadia's hearty, gluten-free seeded bread toasted with an array of sweet or savory fixings: butter or jam, peanut or almond butter and jam, banana with nut butter, hemp seeds and honey, or avocado, spinach, roasted tomatoes and jalapeño cashew cheese. Prasad's east-side sibling Harlow offers the same toast options for a satisfying breakfast or brunch meal. 925 NW Davis Street and 3632 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
- Little T Baker presents its short skinny bread toasted with butter and jam for breakfast, and its house-cured lox on spelt with caper, dill and scallion cream cheese for lunch. 2600 SE Division Street and 1022 W Burnside at SW 10th Avenue
- Behind the Museum Café’s take on special toast replicates Japan’s Westernized breakfast dish—a thick slice of white bread, toasted to golden with a dash of cinnamon sugar and served with mixed organic fruits. 1229 SE 10th Avenue
- Tasty n Sons serves “toast n jam” with teleme cheese, an American semi-soft cheese, as a side during brunch hours. 3808 N Williams, Suite C
- Broder pays tribute to Nordic bread culture and its smørrebrød ‘open face sandwich’ with a wide selection of toppings atop toast or dense, dark rye bread. The toast and duck egg consists of thickly sliced toast with chanterelles, lobster mushrooms, marjoram cream, and peppery arugula. The Nord bord includes thick rye bread with cold meats, cheese, beets and citrus. 2598 SE Clinton Street
- Lunch fare at Måurice, which we named 2014's Destination of the Year, includes Smørbrød du Jour, a plate of toasted, toothsome spelt bread topped with pickled rockfish or bay shrimp and crème fraîche, avocado, and fennel. 921 SW Oak Street
- Irving Street Kitchen’s grilled garlic-rubbed toast, although it just accompanies the Moroccan slow poached eggs, is dressed up enough to be included in our listing. 701 NW 13th Avenue
- For an indulgent breakfast (dessert?) head out to Taiwanese street food-inspired Honey Toast Café, which serves an incredible concoction of honey, toasted sweet bread, butter, and ice cream. S’mores & More, Berry Go Around, and Strawberry Land are just a few of the flavor options. 12520 SW Farmington Road, Beaverton
Did we miss any trendy toast options? Tell us in the comments below!