Toasted East Dulwich
It’s difficult to decide what stands out the most about Toast. The extremely friendly (if anything too friendly) and impressively knowledgeable staff; the carefully selected and affordable wine list, or the wonderfully flavoursome and produce-led dishes. Toast East Dulwich
It’s often the case that when you revisit a place that holds such a fond memory, it doesn’t live up to your expectations the second time round. This proved to be far from the case when returning to Toast(ed) for dinner over the weekend.
Arriving at this pleasantly old fashioned venue in East Dulwich, we were guided by the manager on a thirst provoking trip to our table; passing the bar, already occupied with bums on seats, and exposed brick walls, fronted by Enoteca-styled rows of alluring wine bottles.
Eager to sample the house white, extracted straight from the vat in the next room, two glasses of very drinkable Muscadet (£4.3) were ordered. The natural/biodynamic, French-dominating wine list was both extensive, and reasonably priced. And the food side, although small, I would have easily chosen any dish from the daily changing offerings. Whilst perusing the menus, we tucked into some intense sun-dried olives, fresh sourdough bread and homemade butter. Succumbing to temptation, we further treated ourselves to a generous helping of homemade fresh cheese, which tasted just as spring should- light and fresh, with the creaminess cut through with a zest of lemon.
For a Friday night, it was a luxury not to be rushed through our meal so we ordered sharing plates as we wanted them. As the light from the day faded into night, the room packed out with hungry diners and flickering candlelight. We started with peas, grelot onions and prawn broth (£7), and broad beans, golden raisins and fried almonds (£9.5). Each dish so good, we fought over the last mouthfuls. The portions were suitable, although regretful I hadn’t asked for seconds of the chef’s oriental broth.
Although the wines by the glass selection is somewhat limited for an outfit that has such a strong wine focus, the staff were more than happy to allow us to sample a selection we pondered over before making our selections. After quaffing a cheeky little glass of Riesling (£8.5), and tackling a beastly Sylvaner, (£7.5) we hit the reds for our main course.
Some of the starters on the menu are perhaps a little on the pricier side, the mains start at £10, which was very reasonable for the quail, polenta and gremolata- a beautiful marriage of flavour and textures, with the fresh gremolata lifting the richness of the creamy mashed polenta, enjoyed with a beautifully elegant glass of Ploussard from the Jura (£8), fresh out of the cellar. Get your order in quick for the popular meats, as they will sell out (although to the chef’s credit replaced with an equally as lovely alternative). We enjoyed a shoulder of lamb (£19), which was cooked to perfection, and a nice and stinky glass of Salice Salentino (£5.5).
It’s difficult to decide what stands out the most about Toasted. The extremely friendly (if anything too friendly) and impressively knowledgeable staff; the carefully selected and affordable wine list, or the wonderfully flavoursome and produce-led dishes.
Expect to spend £100 for dinner for 2, if you go the full hog like we did and enjoy a three courses, with nibbles, plenty of wine and a token coffee to finish. But if you take advantage of the bargainous 50% off-sale bottle price on your way out the door, then you’re on your own!