Skip to main content
The Ahi poke tuna toast at Toast Culture, a new eatery located at 11965 Jasper Avenue. MARTA GOLD / POSTMEDIA

Maybe you don’t follow food trends; maybe ramen and poke and vegan burgers and kombucha just aren’t your cup of tea. But toast? Toast was made for a cup of tea. Heck, your grandma eats toast! Your kids love toast! You’re on the toast bandwagon, or breadwagon, already.

But a restaurant for toast? Toast as a food trend that’s finally arrived in Edmonton via San Francisco, New York, Vancouver and Toronto? Maybe you’re skeptical.

At Toast Culture, the latest Oliver-area eatery, toast is most definitely the overriding culture. It’s for breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner, in a most appealing and delicious way.

This is not your grandma’s tea and toast, although to be fair, they do have toast and jam on the menu (for $5) if you want to bring her for breakfast and are willing to foot the bill. But toast as the foundation for inventive and tasty food is really what Toast Culture is all about.

Toast is just the verb — the noun is bread, and the bread at the heart of these creations is from Bon Ton Bakery in Edmonton’s west end. Crisp it up a bit, put on some fresh and interesting toppings and you’ve got artisanal toast. If that term bothers you, as it does me, think of them as open-faced sandwiches made with yummy ingredients.

In keeping with the toasted bread theme, Toast Culture also serves great pizza, but more on that later.

You’ll find the new restaurant in the old Bru space on Jasper Avenue at 119 Street, opened by former Edmontonians Josh Wilhelm and Joel Margolis, who have returned to the city after restaurant careers in Victoria.

The décor is familiar and pleasant enough — vaguely industrial with exposed ducts, vinyl plank flooring and wood and metal furnishing. A fun graffiti mural by local artists Trevor Peters and Annaliza Toledo covers one wall. During the day, you order at the counter; in the evenings, there’s table service.

Toast Culture opened only days before we tried it on a recent evening, but staff seemed well-prepared. Our server was lovely — friendly, helpful and efficient. Everything we ordered came out super-fast and all at once, overwhelming our small table. Then again, had we not been reviewing the place, we wouldn’t have ordered so much food.

The daytime menu includes eight types of toast, from avocado BLT to portobello and tofu paneer ($11 each), which can be ordered with salad for an extra $4 or on gluten-free multigrain bread for $2 more. There’s a breakfast sandwich, a more traditional breakfast with eggs, toast and choice of meat, and a couple of salads.

The evening menu includes only a couple of less-breakfasty toasts, a charcuterie board, a sharing plate of dips, some salads and four pizzas. The place is also licensed, with a selection of beer on tap (all from Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. in Victoria, rather than local brews), wine and cocktails.

The charcuterie board at Toast Culture, a new toast-based eatery located at 11965 Jasper Avenue. MARTA GOLD / POSTMEDIA

We tried the Ahi tuna poke toast ($12), an artful arrangement of raw soy-marinated tuna, kim-chi slaw, cucumbers, pickled onions and basil aioli on multigrain. It tasted as good as it looked, with a great blend of textures and flavours all piled on a delicious slice of toasted bread substantial enough to hold its own under the toppings. It would also make a great light lunch or snack.

We also tried the meat and cheese and pickle sharing plate ($19), which included three different kinds of locally made Meuwly’s cured meats and four cheeses, plus some thin-sliced baguette (toasted, of course). The meats were delicious: a spicy and smoky pepperoni, some soppressata, and a third one that might have been capicola. The cheeses were just OK, as were the pickled beans, carrots and cauliflower on the board. Oddly, there were what looked like store-bought nut-and-seed crackers on there as well.

The pizza was a surprising highlight, especially for a place that’s doesn’t tout pizza as its specialty. We tried the smoked salmon version with fresh ricotta, arugula, garlic aioli, pickled onion and pine nuts. It was fabulous. All the toppings went into the oven, including the salmon, which firmed up a bit, and the arugula, which charred a little. The crust was fantastic — soft and chewy with a hint of garlic. At $17, it was almost too big for one person.

The smoked salmon pizza at Toast Culture, a new toast-based eatery located at 11965 Jasper Avenue. MARTA GOLD / POSTMEDIA

Dessert was another sleeper hit — a warm, jumbo coconut chocolate chip cookie ($8) topped with locally made Yelo’d ice cream (we subbed in pistachio for chocolate). The homemade cookie was wonderful, especially warm from the oven. You can also get Yelo’d ice cream in an affogato (topped with an espresso shot) or in a waffle cone.

A selection of Bon Ton breads are available on shelves alongside the front counter by the loaf, including the country potato, multigrain and sourdough from which Toast Culture builds its creations. The coconut chocolate chip cookies that I’m still dreaming about are also for sale.

Whether you’re getting a quick breakfast (there are a few tables on the sidewalk outside too) or settling in for dinner, it’s definitely worth trying an inventive take on a North American staple at its newest local promoter, Toast Culture.

Toast Culture

Availability: Open for breakfast and lunch every day; open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday

Dinner for two: $40-$50, without liquor

Accessible: Yes

Noise level: Moderate

Location: 11965 Jasper Ave. (Pearl Tower)

Contact: 780-761-4482

Source: Dining Out: Toast Culture puts fresh spin on an old favourite | Edmonton Journal