Granite Bay, CA 95746
There is much to like about a greasy-spoon dive breakfast joint. I enjoy a big plate of bacon, eggs and shredded hash browns as much as the next girl. But sometimes one is in the mood for something a little more refined, a place where the bacon always is preceded with the word “applewood” and the oatmeal is steel-cut and from Ireland. Bonus points if such a place is open on weekdays, as well as weekends, so that you can get your fancy scramble without battling the crowds.
Toast, the new breakfast and brunch spot in the Quarry Pond development in Granite Bay, is such a place. You can sip your cappuccino (the one I had, unfortunately, was remarkably bitter, though capped with very creditable foam) while overlooking the pretty, eponymous rectangular pond, and there is a comfortable dining room, as well. They open early every morning, though it’s not clear exactly when: The door and the menu say 7; their phone-line message says 6:30.
The menu is not enormous, but all the basics are there: French toast, buttermilk pancakes, eggs Benedict, an upscale version of huevos rancheros with chorizo and cotija cheese, a Denver omelet with roasted red peppers, eggs any style with roasted red potatoes and sausage, skirt steak, or that applewood bacon. Some of the fare is a little pricey, as befits the Granite Bay location, but curiously uninventive; aside from a few twists (as mentioned) on classics, it’s mostly straight-ahead basics. There is a slightly expanded and changing brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays, which also features a few lunch-appropriate dishes; on the menu I grabbed, it mentioned a salmon BLT and Jamaican pulled-pork flatbread. Interestingly, I got a menu in the mail when the restaurant opened, and between the printing of that opening menu and now, some of the earlier, fancier touches (Acme bread, a house-made fruit turnover, cornmeal-blueberry pancakes) have been scaled back. Perhaps the restaurant is still finding its feet—or its profit margin.
I wish they’d go back to that Acme bread. A restaurant named Toast, I think we can all agree, really ought to have fantastic toast, and Toast, well, doesn’t. I had some thin-sliced sourdough toast, which had some charring around the edges, and the bread itself was very ordinary—a pity. It was also very unevenly pre-buttered; one slice was soaked, another had just a thin scraping.
This toast accompanied my main meal, which was more to my taste: a scramble of hot-smoked salmon, with sweet fennel and the mild oniony bite of caramelized shallots, plus a dollop of smooth, cool sour cream on top. The salmon was generously incorporated, the eggs done just right: It was a very tasty dish. It came with some of the roasted potatoes on the side. These were a bit uneven, with some of the little oblongs fully roasted and nicely browned, others a bit pale and firm—not undercooked, exactly, just not cooked quite as much as one might like at an hour when one is still waking up.
My husband had a very nice rendition of eggs Benedict. After an anti-egg childhood, I have never quite reconciled myself to the poached egg, but even I could see that these were nicely done, with runny yolks and trembling whites. Hollandaise sauce I have no problem with, especially when it is bitingly tangy and sleekly smooth, as it was here. It soaked tastily into the English muffins, and the Canadian bacon was salty and firm, with a good heft to it. He also had a mocha, in which the chocolaty, sweet richness—not to mention a nice spoonful, rather than a squirt, of whipped cream on top—compensated for any bitter espresso.
Meanwhile, my daughter was happily hacking away at a plate-sized buttermilk pancake, fluffy but not too thick. It was sprinkled with a lot of powdered sugar (which might have explained her enthusiasm) and had some seasonal fruit around it. (An aside: Why on a menu is “seasonal fruit,” always and everywhere, melon?) Our server, who was very accommodating and kind (especially to the kid) had offered to substitute a pancake for the French toast on the kids’ menu, which was nice of her.
Toast also offers evening events, most notably live music. Its location is certainly not convenient for downtown-Sacramento dwellers—and we have good breakfast joints, including some that aim for the refined spirit (and do it a bit more inventively than Toast, for the present), right here. But if you’re out that way, or passing through on the way to or from the Sierras, you could do a lot worse than a salmon scramble overlooking the pond on a cool, sunny morning. It’s to be hoped that the restaurant might smooth out any wrinkles in its kitchen execution, and maybe up the inventiveness of the fare just a bit. They’ve made a pretty good start, with a great location, but it’s not quite the breakfast of my dreams just yet.