You would be forgiven for thinking the menu at Toast Bar and Bistro was a clone of the menu at Carnegie’s, the popular expat restaurant and nightclub in Taipei.
Toast is run by two former Carnegie’s employees, Jonathan Wy (黃萬里) and Richard Uy (黃全利). Wy, the manager, and Uy, the chef, are Filipino-Chinese expats who helped create Carnegie’s current menu when they started working there during the late 1990s. In the meantime, they moved on to manage several different Western establishments in the city, and recently jumped on the opportunity to start their own venture. The restaurant and bar, which sports a modern, homey decor, opened six weeks ago.
If you’ve been disappointed at the quality and consistency of the food at Carnegie’s in recent times, as I have, it might be time to re-visit the source of that restaurant’s former glory. The meals on several recent visits to Toast have been very good, particularly the brunch and breakfast selections.
The eggs benedict (NT$230) is a fail-safe choice thanks to a brilliant twist: The restaurant uses prosicutto ham instead of plain ham or bacon. And it’s nice to see that even small side dishes aren’t neglected — the meal comes with a small salad consisting of fresh greens topped with a sweet and sour chutney, as well as a side of deep-fried potatoes, which the menu calls “Potato O’ Brien.” Never mind they’re not the real thing — chunks of potato pan-fried with green peppers and onion — these thin, coin-sized crinkle cut slices are still tasty and round out the meal nicely.
Other selections at Toast include familiar hangover-helper sets from two sides of the pond. The American breakfast (NT$320) comes with sausage, bacon, hash browns and two eggs made to order, while the English Breakfast (NT$320) adds baked beans, pan-fried tomatoes and mushrooms, and replaces the hash browns with crinkly-cut fried potatoes.
Address: 3, Ln 181, Anhe Rd, Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市安和路二段181巷3號)
Telephone: (02) 2737-0037
Open: 11am to midnight
Average meal: NT$250 to NT$300 per preson
Details: Credit cards accepted; near Liuzhangli MRT Station (六張犁捷運站)
We liked the “Build Your Own Omelette” (NT$220), which diners can customize to their liking by choosing from a variety of meats, vegetables and cheeses to add as filling. The eggs are organic and they’re cooked properly — a refreshing change from the greasy mess served by Carnegie’s and many of the trendy brunch places around Taipei. The toast on the side was delicious. The restaurant makes all of its bread from scratch, which includes whole wheat and rye bread for sandwiches, dinner rolls and the dough for its stone-oven baked pizzas.
Wy and Uy originally envisioned opening a “gastropub,” a fancy version of a British-style pub serving gourmet food. They toned down that ambition a bit as Toast’s menu items aren’t particularly fancy or exotic, but it’s clear that much attention and care is given to preparing the food. The simple but delicious panini (NT$260) is a fine example. It’s easy to imagine this item, loaded with prosciutto (happily, again) and melted gouda cheese to the tasty bread and served with a side of French Fries and salad, becoming a favorite among regulars.
Wy and Uy naturally want customers to make repeated trips to Toast, and often, which explains the almost dizzying variety of more than 60 items on the menu. Carnegie’s regulars will notice their favorites — a long list of bar food staples, Mexican and pasta, but there is a fair number of new items recommended by the house, including Mexican fajitas (NT$280), Lamb Rogan Josh curry (NT$350), Belgian Mussels with Frites (NT$320) and a variety of 10-inch pizzas (NT$260 to NT$280).