There's a lot to love about Toasters, the new Warehouse District bistro that opened oh-so-quietly seven months ago, aside from the sheer fact that there's finally a third restaurant in the tiny tip of downtown that's also home to Oxheart and Last Concert Cafe. Toasters occupies a niche entirely removed from those two institutions, offering breakfast and lunch for the downtown business crowd.
1004 N. San Jacinto St.
The little restaurant has smartly carved out several different seating areas, from a casual couch-and-easy-chairs arrangement if you're just there for a latte to a variety of pub-style tables and standard two-tops for quick meals. There's even sidewalk seating if you're not traffic-shy. I can certainly imagine it appeals to the UHD crowd, just a few blocks away—indeed, when I visited yesterday, the clientele seemed to be a mix of college students and suited-up business types.
But what I really love about Toasters is its all-day breakfast, especially the most obscenely decadent dish on that breakfast menu: bananas foster French toast, served with two eggs and two strips of bacon so that you can pretend you're eating "breakfast" instead of what is clearly and awesomely a huge plate of dessert. Chef Benny Bell, who spent 24 years cooking as a caterer before opening Toasters, laughs: "I wanted to do something different as far as my menu and something signature that would stand out." And stand out it does.
Bell's French toast dish hangs over the sides of an already oversized dinner plate, thanks to the equally oversized loaves of Italian bread he gets from local bakery Ashcraft. "I didn't want to do it on Texas toast," says Bell. "It's a thick cut of bread and absorbs a lot of the custard, so I came up with the Italian bread because it doesn't tear as easily."
The result is a French toast that more or less makes its own sauce, the excess custard mingling together with the melted butter on top. Bell handed me a bottle of syrup with my French toast, but the buttery custard was more than enough—especially once you hit the bruleed bananas on top, their caramelized exterior adding an extra level of sugary sweetness to an already over-the-top dish. No surprise here that it's been one of Bell's most popular items since he added it to the menu at Toasters, though Bell himself still seems a little shocked.
"Of course it's something that I would enjoy," he says. "Being a chef, your mind is always on food and how to create something different. But I didn't know it was going to catch on the way it did."