After Avocado Toast
Whether it came along with the rise of Instagram or people seeking healthier breakfast options, there’s no question avocado toast is one of the biggest trends to hit breakfast menus over the last few years. At a significant number of restaurants across the country, people want to devour this delicious, good-fat food on rustic bread topped with any variety of ingredients like watermelon radish, chili flake and poached eggs.
A bonus to people willing to shell out $10 to $12 for avocado toast opens possibilities for chefs to experiment with other tasty toasts. At Chicago’s Beatrix, for example, executive chef/partner John Chiakulas offers “rainbow toast.” He starts with a sourdough bread base he procures from nearby Publican Quality Bread and tops it with whipped ricotta, peaches, blackberry, blueberry and strawberry.
In colder months, he combines caramelized apple cinnamon toast with ricotta and also suggests using nut butters and pumpkin puree. He cautions, however, against using anything too wet like fresh fruit purees or tomatoes because those ingredients will make even the heartiest breads soggy.
Speaking of bread, the variety you use is almost as important as the ingredients atop it.
“The breads that work better are going to be denser and crustier, not too soft or porous,” recommends Chiakulas. “Seeded breads are always excellent as well.
And don’t be afraid to take things to the next level savory-wise by using seafood in various forms.
“We get spectacular trout from a spring-fed farm in central Pennsylvania,” says Spike Gjerde, chef/owner of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore. “We smoke it, flake it, and then add something herbaceous like shiso or micro chervil. We start with something on the toast like a spreadable cheese like a sheep’s milk ricotta and make our own mayonnaise to give it richness.”
Matt Bolus, chef at Nashville’s 404 Kitchen, gained inspiration to create a scallop toast while on his 10th anniversary trip. He starts with a thin slice of sourdough toasted in a nutty brown butter, then spreads creamy avocado comprising crème fraîche, lemon juice, salt and red pepper to form the base. Then Bolus tops that with seared scallops, mizuna and crispy banana slices for texture and natural sweetness. While it’s different, it has become super popular—even at $18 a pop.
“I never imagined we would get the response we do for a dish like this,” Bolus admits. “But we continue to sell almost 1,000 each month.”
So, if you’re willing to experiment with flavors, textures and different ingredients, your guests likely will experiment with you.