The first Toasteria, just off of Zhongxiao East Road (忠孝東路), is a postage-stamp-size place serving panini-style grilled-cheese sandwiches that’s popular for quick bites or take-out orders. With only two tables and seating for up to six at the bar, there’s not room for much else, and patrons are often seen milling around the front waiting for a place to sit.
Owner Tomer Feldman has changed things at his second location in the Shida area. With seating for 30, it’s more than four times the size of the original. The restroom is nearly the size of the first Toasteria and is beautifully outfitted with a wooden bench, huge mirror and a sink made from a refitted wok. Customers joke that they are going to move into it.
What hasn’t changed is the stylish color palette of mustard and earth tones, the use of copper and reclaimed wood, an open kitchen layout and the delicious comfort food on offer.
A thick L-shaped bar dominates the restaurant, its counter fencing in the open kitchen. All the wood furnishings are made from reused word, except for the chairs. The bar itself is made from railway trestles of deeply smoked oak. All the lighting fixtures other than the recessed lights are from an antiques and curio shop that Feldman frequents — he designed the bar around a sideboard he found there.
Feldman gutted the interior and started from scratch to create an ambient, airy space suffused with amber lighting.
The tables are topped with collages Feldman created using clippings from the Village Voice. Under a copper countertop facing the street is a glass-enclosed terrarium filled with plants. Pieces of driftwood are artfully placed throughout.
The expanded space comes with an extended menu, made possible by the installation of a teppanyaki grill, a large toaster oven and a frozen margarita machine.
I tried one of the new Asian-Mediterranean fusion sandwiches, teriyaki steak (NT$170), and my companion had the Med salmon (NT$170). We shared a fried fish salad. The steak sandwich was served medium rare, with grilled onions, and a tangy semi-sweet teriyaki sauce that soaked nicely into the bread. Crisp slices of radish offset the tender meat, and melted cheddar oozed out of every bite. The Med salmon was a simple salmon filet with feta and tomatoes, enlivened with olives, capers and onions. Also available at the original location, the fried fish salad (NT$165) is made of tender chunks of white fish, battered and fried, and stacked on a bed of watercress, lettuce, onions, tomato and beetroot drizzled with Feldman’s homemade aioli dressing. The salad is served with grilled triangles of bread — specially made for Toasteria with no sugar and extra yeast.
We spent a good part of the evening drinking very reasonably priced margaritas (NT$120 each). Despite coming from a machine they were top-notch, made with white Jose Cuervo Clasico, and served in a salted glass and topped with mint and lemon.