Proposing A Toast

by Kady Matsuzaki

Photography by Angela Wang

Many a morning is begun with the satisfying crunch of biting into a slice of toast. It is the perfect base for all kinds of toppings, from classic peanut butter and jelly to mashed avocado, the precursor to the current “stuff on toast” trend. There are so many other ways to enjoy the crisp, carb-y goodness of toast.

Some of the most famous toasts in Boston can be found at Tatte Bakery & Café. Their avocado tartine is arguably the most popular item on the menu, and a staple, but for those looking to explore options outside of avocado toast, Tatte’s mushroom tartine—with Parmesan cheese, pea shoots and poached eggs—as well as the whipped ricotta and jam tartine are also delicious choices. While these toasts are offered all week, the weekend-only brunch menu includes a Jerusalem bagel egg-in-a-hole, a Tatte-specific interpretation of “stuff on toast.”

“I love all of their toasts,” said Olivia Calabrese (CAS ’19). “I’m a vegetarian, so when I want something that is filling and healthy, Tatte’s toasts are perfect.”

Boston institution The Friendly Toast lives up to its name, serving epic “stuff on toast” options. The smoked salmon and meatloaf bennys are both served on top of thick slices of the Friendly Toast’s famous toasted bread instead of an English muffin. If one is not in the mood for hollandaise sauce, the “Ole Miss” is a breakfast plate comprised of cayenne-cheddar toast piled with sausage, mashed sweet potatoes, eggs and mango sour cream.

Central Square’s Little Donkey offers “stuff on toast” options for both breakfast and dinner. Nutella toast with sea salt or avocado toast with pickled carrots, feta and za’atar are popular breakfast options, but the star offering is the toad-in-a-hole, Habanero sausage, creamed spinach and a sunny-side-up egg served atop toasted miso banana bread. For dinner guests craving toast, the Vietnamese shrimp toast is another must-try.

For seafood-lovers, Saltie Girl in Back Bay has a plethora of seafood and toast combinations. These decadent toasts feature ingredients like foie gras and uni, or sea urchin. If one is feeling extravagant, the foie gras BLT, with pork belly and tomato jam, is a pricey but perfect option. As added bonuses, not only are Saltie Girl’s toasts served all day, they also highlight sustainable seafood.

Sweet-tooths can go for the toasts at Panificio Bistro & Bakery in Beacon Hill to find the perfect light breakfast or brunch. The “frutta” and the “fromaggio” are thick slices of country toast topped with fresh fruit and honey, but the “frutta” features house-made walnut butter, while “fromaggio” is spread with mascarpone cheese.

Harvard Square favorite Alden & Harlow has locally and sustainably-sourced menu options. The torched avocado toast is made of crab, poached egg and cauliflower kimchee, while kale toasts, with anchovy aioli, fried egg and bacon, are an indulgent take on the supposed “posterchild” of health food.

For avocado aficionados, Tamper Café in Medford has two toasty options.

The “avocado smash” and “Zac attack” both feature the trendy green fruit. While the “avocado smash” has roasted pumpkin seeds and feta on top of thick-cut toast points, the “Zac attack” pairs the avocado with sundried tomatoes and black peppercorn.

“Avocados are a gift from God,” said Mari Fletcher (COM ’18). “Pair them with a nicely toasted piece of bread at breakfast, lunch or even dinner, and my day is made.”

But why exactly did “stuff on toast” become so trendy? Café Gitane in New York City is credited as the birthplace of avocado toast in the United States, but the general toast trend is not limited to avocado toast.

Therefore, it may be because of toast’s versatility, accessibility and ease—even the most incompetent quasi-chef is able to toast a piece of bread. Additions such as smoked salmon and ricotta cheese lend toast a “bougie” feel. The kitchen-novice feels accomplished, while brunch-goers have social media-worthy plates.

Carbs provide a sense of comfort to some, and it is therefore not surprising that toast’s popularity has grown exponentially.

“I love toast because it’s crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside, especially with melted butter,” said Zoe Hawryluk (COM ’19).

While a crisp slice of bread spread with butter is sometimes all one needs to satisfy a toast craving, the “stuff on toast” trend has made toast into an acceptable breakfast, lunch or dinner. Toast at any time of day? We can toast to that.