By Jake Darling
Only a two-minute drive from the Country Club of Virginia is the gastropub Toast. After being let out of school, Grayson Hoy (‘19) and I travelled to the restaurant on a recent Friday afternoon looking for a nice late lunch. Toast is a family-owned restaurant. Being a gastropub, Toast focuses not only on drinks and the bar, like a traditional pub, they also take time to make sure their food is better than regular bar food. They offer a wide variety of menus: gluten-free, a kids menu, a “tweens” menu, and the extensive regular menu.
Upon first entering the restaurant, the aroma is welcoming. When you enter, you walk through a large set of black curtains, where you are immediately greeted by an excited waiter or waitress. There is a rustic feel to the restaurant—the tables and chairs are all made from wood, and the lighting consists of a combination of old Edison bulbs hanging from the ceiling and a long lighting fixture made from what seemed to be a combination of closet doors with small lights. The bathrooms are almost entirely wood, and the sinks appear hand molded into shape. The menus themselves are thin pieces of wood with the actual menu stapled to them. Overall, Toast is very welcoming to a first-time customer. There is music playing at a volume where you are still able to recognize the song, but the noise level is not overpowering. When asked for his initial thoughts on the restaurant, Hoy told me “the restaurant is more casual then I expected.”
I ordered the Toast Burger (right), made with a half-pound beef patty, cheese, applewood bacon, greens, tomato, fried onion, fried pickle, and barbecue aioli. Grayson ordered the mozzarella caprese panini (left), made from fresh mozzarella, caprese tomatoes, garlic olive oil, basil, and balsamic reduction on sourdough bread.
It took around twenty minutes for our food to arrive, but it was well worth the wait. The burger had an incredible mix of flavors from all the different toppings. The mix of fried onions and the applewood smoked bacon created an incredible flavor sensation which filled your mouth after every bite. This sensation was then complimented by the delicious barbecue aioli. The fries, however, were the best part. I found myself eating more of my side of fries than my actual burger. The honey mustard, which came with the fries, was delicious, and I found I could not stop myself from eating them one after another.
Upper School English teacher (and Match adviser) Vlastik Svab says that he has “been to both Toast locations and have always enjoyed my meal. They have a wide variety for different food tastes, including vegetarian and gluten-free options. I highly recommend the shrimp and crab nachos as an amazing and enormous appetizer for a group or family.”
Hoy, on the other hand, was not as impressed with his meal. While he did enjoy the meal, after eating half of his panini, I asked him what he thought. He told me that “it is a good place to go with your friends, but don’t expect anything incredible for the price range.” He says that he “expected more.” This opinion seems reasonable, but what one must understand before going to Toast for a meal is that you are not just paying for the food and drinks; you are also paying for the experience. There are multiple televisions playing different channels, and it is a nice, relaxing environment for a group of friends to go and have a good meal for a decent price. Toast recently also opened up a southside location in the Winterfield Place shopping center in Midlothian, and I would strongly recommend you and a group of friends go and try some of the different foods they have available.
All photos by Jake Darling.