While "toast" is the name on the game, Toast Culture makes fabulous pizzas, such as the potato, capicola and truffle oil pictured above. PHOTOS BY GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN

Toast Culture | Food + Drink
11965 Jasper Ave.
780-761-4482
Toastculture.com

Seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Mon. and Tues. to 4 p.m., Fri and Sat to 10 p.m.)

Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns
Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns
Service: 3 of 5 Suns

Dinner for two, excluding beverages, taxes and tip:  Basic, $18,  loaded, $48

By GRAHAM HICKS

Toast Culture is soft and soothing.

But don’t go looking for bold flavours, new or unusual tastes.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

It’s a peculiar situation at this pleasant, modern and casual restaurant on Jasper Avenue West.

Owner/operators Josh Wilhelm and Joel Margolus present a menu that’s all toast ‘n’ toppings, “artisan” pizza and salad.

There’s also an extensive craft beer/cocktail and spirits list, designed to attract an evening crowd looking a quiet bar amiable to conversation.

To peruse Toast Culture’s menu is to rouse curiosity. Much ado is made about fresh kimchi, pickled onions, hemp hearts, cold cuts and sausage by Meuwly’s artesian butchery, multi-grain breads from Bon Ton Bakery.

One would think this would be interesting indeed. But it’s not.  Most of the flavours jumble into an indistinguishable, rather bland, whole.

The open-faced sandwiches are the kind you might make at home for a weekend lunch, had you the ingredients. It was a bit peculiar to dine on salad and toast creations on a weekend evening, but reasonable enough, I suppose, as our culture slowly accepts the curtailment of unnecessary calories.

Toast Culture’s “toast flight” offers three tastings from its toast “bar”.

We tried the toast “flight” for a group starter  – three open-face half-sandwiches, mashed avocado topped with bruschetta, sliced salmon and arugula, goat cheese with mini-greens,  all presented on fresh, lightly toasted, nutty multi-grain.

They all looked tasty enough, but other than the goat cheese/garlic aioli blend, nothing leapt out in flavour or texture.

The Tuscan sausage fire bread wasn’t very fiery.

For the Tuscan sausage fire bread the same multi-grain bread is loaded up with slices of sausage and a thick mozzarella covering, run through the pizza broiler for maximum melt. The Tuscan was nice and hot with good chewy texture, but the flavours, once again, were oddly bland …especially for a dish with “fire” in its name.

The poke salad was more a regular garden salad topped with ahi tuna.

You’d think the Ahi tuna poke salad would burst with oriental flavours, especially when the menu says, “in a miso & sesame dressing.”  Nope.  The poke salad consisted of a generous portion of fresh, cubed tuna on top what tasted like a standard vinaigrette salad. There were oriental touches in there somewhere, but they had no impact on the overall flavour.

The hit of the evening had nothing to do with toast.

The pizza was terrific!  Hot and bubbly with a few perfect blisters, passed through a true pizza oven, with the most interesting touch of soft, sliced baby potatoes under aged cheddar (a nice change from mozzarella) and bits of capicola all garnished with truffle oil for richness.

The food at Toast Culture is pleasant enough, if pleasant/bland is what you seek.

But somebody in this kitchen needs to go crazy with spices, chili, pungent herbs, sausage with a kick.

Until then, Toast Culture’s pizzas will have to carry the day.

FOOD NOTES

• Sepp’s made waves at the Kidsport’s Pizza Pigout weeks ago, when the “ghost kitchen” (operating out of the LEVA Café) had the most winning pizza.  Now the Century Grill Group has opened  its first “ghost kitchen.” The Flying Dodough, of no fixed address, is offering pizza, sandwiches and rotisserie chicken only accessible through Skip The Dishes and Uber Eats.

• Giselle Courteau, the driving force and inspiration behind the wildly popular Duchess Bakery, has written a second cookbook. Duchess at Home is about Francophone home cooking.  With her partners, Courteau has opened a second Duchess pastry outlet, the Little Duchess in the Biera restaurant building on the South Side, at 96 Avenue at 95 Street.

• The retreat continues:  After a year as a gourmet vegetarian restaurant, the downtown Kanu is switching to be a vegetarian pizzeria, Doppio Zero Pizza by Kanu. Nobody is spending in restaurants as they used to.