Artisan toast continues to present huge opportunity for operators. They’re extremely popular with dining consumers today, thanks to a number of factors, including familiarity, shareability and Instagram-worthiness.
Chefs have maximized their popularity, using toast as a springboard for creative flavor combinations. Through our external research, where we taste more than 1,000 dishes in trending restaurants across the country, we spotted six themes huddled under the toast umbrella—all offering opportunity for menu differentiation. And while menuing artisan toast answers consumer demand, it also works well operationally. It’s one of those menu items that you can assemble from inventory items. It also performs nicely across dayparts—from breakfast and brunch to bar snacks, lunch and dinner.
1) Sweet Toasts
A natural fit at breakfast and brunch, as well as on all-day menus, the combination of sweet and savory works beautifully on modern menus. Fruit jams, chocolate spreads, rich breads—all help build intriguing flavor combinations.
- Sourdough Toast with fall fruit jam, sour cream and savory—Fairfax, New York
- Whole Wheat Brioche Toast with halva spread and apricot jam—Kismet, Los Angeles
- Milk Toast with caramelized chocolate, cashews, pistachios, coconut and chocolate-hazelnut spread—City Mouse, Chicago
2) Meat-centric Toasts
One of the wonderful things about toasts—and what keeps it on trend—is its versatility. Chefs are using toast as a carrier for both deli- and charcuterie-inspired meats. Underpinning those bigger flavors are umami-rich accompaniments like miso butter or sweet counterpoints like jam.
- Whipped Ham Toast with with thinly sliced green onion—Otway, New York
- Toad in the Hole with koji-miso butter, poached eggs and beef tartare—Kitsune, Chicago
- Rillettes with stonefruit jam on sourdough—Publican Anker, Chicago
3. Seafood Toasts
The seafood category is red hot on menus right now, so it makes sense that chefs are developing items that combine seafood with toast. The seacuterie trend, where seafood is cured like charcuterie, fits in perfectly with the toast platform.
- Gravlax with challah chips, crème fraîche and a caper relish —Fairfax, New York City
- Smoked Trout Toast with green harissa, crème fraîche green harissa and shaved radish—Double Take, Los Angeles
- Smoked Trout Toast with watermelon radish and pickled Fresno chiles—Ella Elli, Chicago
- Smoked Whitefish Toast with whipped cream cheese, marinated cucumber, dill, house batard—Double Take, Los Angeles
4. Veg-Forward Toasts
We continue to cover the exciting veg-centric opportunity because it really does represent a significant shift in consumer demand that will inform menus for a long time to come. With toasts, chefs are creating beautiful presentations that lead with flavor-forward veg-centric ingredients.
- Mushroom Toast with marinated wild mushrooms, smoked country ham, poached egg, country toast—Temple Court, New York City
- Eggplant Relish & Goat Cheese Toast—Wolfdown, Los Angeles
- Creamy Mushroom Toast with crème fraîche and thyme—Ella Elli, Chicago
- Cranberry Bean Hummus with dried fig, parsley, sumac, preserved lemon, grilled sourdough—Little Beet Table, Chicago
- Broccoli Toast with labneh, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate—Kismet, Los Angeles
5. Knife-and-fork Toasts
These are generally more robust presentations that require utensils. They impress with size, along with a heartier combination of ingredients. They can still be shareable, but finger food, they are not. Truth be told, these were some of our favorites. In fact, The Overpriced Tomato toast at Daisies in Chicago was our favorite bite from last year’s research tour.
- Toast #1 with heirloom tomatoes, feta cheese mousse, soft herbs, toasted seeds, jalapeño vinaigrette—Split-Rail, Chicago
- The Overpriced Tomato with toasted sourdough with balsamic, torn basil, drawn bone marrow—Daisies, Chicago
- Wild Mushroom and Fontina Gratin on grilled country bread—Motel Morris, New York City
- Eggs on Eggs with soft-scrambled eggs, bone marrow, crème fraîche, radishes, smoked trout roe, Mississippi sturgeon—Heritage, Chicago
6. Avocado Toast 2.0
Avocado toast is the granddaddy in the toast trend. It’s the most common version on menus, leading with its wholesome vibe and its ability to easily move between dayparts. Now, we’re seeing chefs making avocado toast more elaborate, adding more textures and flavors into the builds.
- Avocado Toast with watermelon radish, toasted seeds, Espelette pepper—Sauvage, New York City
- Mediterranean with sourdough bread, olive tapenade, cherry tomatoes, feta and pistachio dukkah—Avocaderia, New York City
- Avocado Toast with sunflower seeds, radish, Hungarian pepper and a soft boiled egg—City Mouse, Chicago
- Avocado Toast Two Ways with sourdough, sour cream, cherry tomatoes, feta, six-minute egg, starring both avocado mash and sliced avocado—Little Toasted, Chicago
- Charred Avocado Toast with wheat grass, pickled onions, heirloom cherry tomatoes, chili oil, egg—Sunday In Brooklyn, New York City
Hungry for More?
Contact your Sales Representative or visit gfs.com/ideas and click “Culinary and Recipes” to find culinary inspiration for your menu and your mind.