Saturday, June 4, 2011

Toast, Charleston, SC

If You Have To Wait In Line, Don't Bother

I realized that I’ve written many blogs about my lunch and dinner experiences, but very few about breakfast, so we decided to add another breakfast location to our blog.

Toast must have one of the premier locations for a restaurant in Charleston. It’s about a block from the Market on Meeting Street.  As we have driven by, we have often seen people waiting to get in. Today, not only did we get a parking spot out front, we were seated immediately.   Had we come a bit later, as a line formed out front, it would not have been worth the wait.

Waiting For Toast
After walking 90 minutes earlier in the day I couldn’t decide if I wanted breakfast (served all day) or lunch.  Luckily, the menu has many options.  The name “Toast” made me think that they only served breakfast, which was incorrect.  I was surprised to see a full bar when we walked in, and to see that the restaurant also offered lunch and dinner.  Additionally, they offer unlimited mimosas for $10.00 all day long.  They even have a set of rules that go with the mimosa offering.

Mimosa Rules
The restaurant is small and seats about 40+ people.  Wooden booths line most of the seating area and the service is brisk. Our server quickly approached us and gave us menus.  We were in view of the blackboards that advertise the specialty coffee drinks (lattes, espresso, etc.), homemade pies, cobbler, cheesecake, croissants and assorted baked goods. There was much to choose from and my husband had his eye on a piece (or two) of coconut cake to go!

I should always trust my instincts and once again I ignored them.  A creature of habit I usually order a sausage and cheese omlette with hash browns and maybe a bagel for breakfast. I am rarely disappointed.  But no, I had to be adventurous and order The Low Country Eye-Opener - Shrimp Etouffee, usually a Cajun stew of shellfish served over rice with fried green tomatoes. Toast’s spin was that it’s served over grits, rather than rice.  I passed on the grits and substituted home fries on the side.

My husband ordered The Charleston Surf & Turf – marinated grilled rib eye, two eggs any style (unfortunately he was not given an option…), smothered in grilled shrimp and onions on an English muffin and served with home fries.  We waited for our order as we watched the line at the door grow.
We didn’t have to wait long before our breakfast was served. I can say that this restaurant is efficient. Servers, busboys, managers and hostesses are on the move!

The Surf & Turf was Surf & Tuff.  The steak wasn’t a good cut of beef and part of it was cooked medium rare as ordered, while the rest was well done.  The “smothered in” grilled shrimp consisted of seven shrimp on top of his egg and steak combo.  “Shrimp” perfectly described the serving size of the shrimp.
Surf & Turf
The etouffee was visually unappealing, but hey, don’t judge a dish by how it looks, instead judge it by the flavor. The brown stuff, which I’ll assume was their version of etouffee, had a few shrimp in it and was cold.  The hash browns and fried tomatoes were very hot, but the star of the show was a disappointment.

Thankfully our server stopped by and took the entire dish back to be redone.  Once again we were eating in the “installment plan” – he eats, then I get my breakfast, then I eat.  This never makes for a good dining experience.  When the dish came back, it was in fact warm, but alas, I did not care for it.  Unfortunately, the brown stuff didn’t get any better when it was warmed up.
Lowcountry Eye Opener

To the manager’s credit she stopped by and inquired how things were. By this point in time, I had decided not to eat my etouffee but rather to snack on the home fries and the tasty homemade biscuit.  When she asked about our breakfast I told her that “I didn’t care for it, but it was my personal preference.” To her credit, she told me I could have had anything else on the menu, should I desire a replacement. Since my husband was done eating already and I declined the offer.

She should have quit while she was ahead, but nooooo, she started to interrogate us. “Where are you from?” she asked.  When we said that we lived here, she continued her inquiry.  “But you’re not from here?”  We told her we had moved from Boston last year.  “Oh,” she said, “I knew you weren’t from Charleston.”And turned on her heel and left.  I thought she must be a Charlestonian and I offended her sensibilities.  Turns out she’s from Jersey so I have no idea what she meant by that.

I can say that our server saved the entire experience. She talked about her recent move from Arkansas and was just as pleasant as could be.  Our rating would have been much lower had she not been so cordial. 

We gave Toast 3 out of a possible 5 plates.

Toast on Urbanspoon


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