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Artisanal Toast Is Taking the Nation by Storm

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Fancy toast.
Fancy toast.
Photo: Courtesy of The Mill

Artisanal toast, a trend that has been the subject of eye-rolling and has been laughed off as "twee" and very San Francisco, is catching on in cities across the nation. Fancy toast is starting to pop up on menus in cities like Minneapolis and Detroit. The concept was started in San Francisco by Giulietta Carrelli of Trouble Coffee & Coconut Club. Soon, it spread across the city, where it faced quite a bit of backlash for its $4 (or more) price tag and hipster appeal. That hasn't stopped customers from gobbling up the elevated version the humble breakfast food where thin packaged bread has been swapped for thick slices (often freshly baked or from local bakeries) and spread with a range of house-made toppings.

While the team behind the San Francisco bakery, The Mill, didn't invent the trend, they were early adopters who helped popularize it. In an interview with Eater SF, the team explains that the toast has become so in demand, that over the past year its coffee menu has remained the same but its toast menu has greatly expanded. The team also notes that they are contemplating making bigger changes to the way they make toast so that they can up the speed on weekends: "People really want that toast!" Josey Baker, the baker at The Mill, explained to Pacific Standard that on weekends, the team easily serves 350-400 pieces of toast a day.

Eater Detroit notes that it was after seeing the success of the elevated breakfast staple during a recent trip to California, the owners of Avalon Bakery in Detroit decided to test the item on its menu. The bakery launched a toast bar during breakfast hours. The bakery is currently selling hand-cut slices of bread "smothered in sweet cream butter, cinnamon sugar, or butter, honey, and sea salt" for between 6-11 a.m for $3.25 each. Employees say that the toast has been a little slow to catch on but they are "hopeful" that once more and more customers become aware of the option that they will become "just as fanatical" as toast fans in the Bay area.

According to Eater Minneapolis, Liz Abene, who is opening Canteen in Minneapolis in late June, is also hoping to cash in on the craze. Instead of doing a handful of options like Avalon Bakery, she is going for a diverse menu like at The Mill. However, instead of a menu, Abene plans to set up toasters with a range of DIY toppings like nut butters and jellies and will feature bread from a "rotating line-up of the city's best bakeries." On a Facebook post asking whether locals are into the idea of artisanal toast, many seemed to be for the concept, but had a few questions regarding how you order. One commenter writes, "Perhaps you order your toast similar to a steak ... light, medium, dark, burnt."

The toast trend has drawn backlash for its steep prices: The team behind The Mill notes that the restaurant drew quite a bit of criticism for selling toast for $4 a slice. They add, however, that they've had employees return from Los Angeles, claiming that they saw $5 and $8 slices of toast there. Sqirl, a restaurant in LA where toast is a very popular menu option, sells a version made with brioche and topped with house made ricotta and seasonal Jam for $7. In New York City, Cafe Gitane sells its much loved avocado topped toast for $7.25. It should only be a matter of months before millennial wooing chains will start putting fancy toast on their menus, too.

· Josey Baker, Jodi Geren, and Jeremy Tooker of The Mill [Eater SF]
· Artisanal Toast Is Coming to Minneapolis [Eater Minneapolis]
· Midtown Joins Artisanal Toast Craze [Eater Detroit]
· All Trend Coverage on Eater [-E-]