Second Helpings

Toast: It's what's for dinner

From the minute it opened almost two years ago at the foot of Littleton's original downtown, Toast was one of the single greatest breakfast bars I'd ever found. The kitchen brought an almost fine-dining commitment to the cooking of bacon, eggs and (of course) toast; poured great coffee; and did amazing pancakes — flights of them, enough to send a full-grown man into a diabetic coma just by sitting too close. Crowds of would-be diners would regularly back up at the front door and stand there, staring enviously at tables full of people who'd gotten up earlier than them.

Breakfast went so well that Toast started hyping its lunch — simple sandwiches and wraps that, almost impossibly, were as good as its breakfasts. True, the back of the house seemed to have something of a havarti obsession (it was on everything), but I like havarti and find it to be an excellent sandwich cheese. Toast soon expanded, opening a second, overflow dining room in the back and adding to the menu. And then, finally, owner Jason Parfenoff decided that he had a good enough crew and enough trade to expand Toast's hours, too, by serving dinner.

Too much of a good thing? No, but a different thing entirely. When I stopped in last week to try dinner at Toast, I found a menu that delves deep into the myriad possibilities of the hamburger and the sandwich. My bacon cheeseburger was very good, served a perfect and bloody rare, mounted on a quality bun with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and chopped onions. But the fries were season-salted half to death, and the bowl of green chile I got on the side was more like a decent pork-shoulder barbecue soaked down in green chile pot likker — not bad, just weird. Laura ordered the same turkey sandwich with cranberry and avocado that she gets every time we go to Toast, and it was as good as ever — huge and delicious and savory-sweet.

But what I really wanted was a plate of pancakes, and pancakes are no longer available once the breakfast crowds dissipate. That's understandable — there's only so much space in the kitchen and probably not much call for flapjacks at eight o'clock at night — but not being able to get pancakes only served to remind me how much I love breakfast here. Toast was, and still is, the area's best breakfast bar. But as a place for sit-down lunches and dinners, it's merely very good — a slight disappointment only for those who crave corned beef hash, eggs and hotcakes in the evening. — Jason Sheehan