Thursday, February 23, 2023

Tales of Toast

Applying prior knowledge isn’t always as helpful as you might think. Case in point: when I first heard (on The Merriweather Post blog, undoubtedly) that a restaurant called Toastiqe was coming to the Merriweather District, my mind went straight to Lake Woebegon.

A feature of the old Prairie Home Companion radio show, Lake Woebegon, “the place that time forgot and decades will not improve” was the creation of the show’s host Garrison Keillor. A monologue about current happenings in Lake Woebegon was in each week’s show. The quirky (and sometimes almost believable) tales kept audiences tuning in week after week.

One of my favorites was about Toast & Jelly Days. It was the Lake Woebegon, Minnesota equivalent of a street festival and it was exactly what the name tells you: a festival for toast and jelly. Folks set up their stands along the route with all the necessary accoutrements. They had their toasters ready, rigged up with extension cords to local homes and businesses. 

The story goes that one year they decided to have a timed, ceremonial “first toast” where all the pieces of bread at every food stand went down at the very same time. That took some doing to coordinate. But they did it.

And they blew out all the power in town.

So, yes, I did assume that a restaurant called Toastique was going to serve toast and jelly and various permutations along those lines:

  • Toast and jelly 
  • Buttered toast
  • Dry toast
  • Cinnamon toast 
  • Peanut butter toast
You get the picture. I’m a fan of toast - - especially cinnamon toast - - but I feared that such a restaurant would have limited appeal. 

The news that Toastique will be opening this weekend prompted me to go look at their menu.

No toast and jelly.

I don’t know if I’m relieved or disappointed.

All joking aside, it looks like an appealing and varied menu that will have broader appeal than what I had originally envisioned.

One more thing. After years of fantasizing in this space about a hypothetical restaurant called the Magical Soup Company I discovered there actually is one. It’s in my hometown, Cleveland Ohio. It’s called (wait for it) The Souper Market.

The owner, Matthew Moore, started with one location twenty years ago and now has five in the area. Take a look at their menu. Soup, bread, salads. Plus you can purchase varieties of their soup stocks and salad dressings.

I get the impression that the pandemic may have changed their business model to purely takeout. That doesn’t appear to have cut down on demand. 

So far they’re only in Cleveland. Oh how I wish we had one in Columbia/HoCo.

Toastique started with one woman, Brianna Keefe, and a concept. They now have 16 locations in multiple states with more on the way. Surely a restaurant that specializes in soup could do as well, don’t you think?

So, no Toast & Jelly Days in Columbia/HoCo. But, if you’re fond of festivals, Hops & Harvest will be back for another year in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods: October 7th, 2023.

It’s probably BYOT.*

*Bring your own toast.

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