Toaste.d. opened a few months ago on Lordship Lane, East Dulwich and has been attracting a lot of attention from the usual suspects. I looked up the reviews as well as checking out the voice of the people, the East Dulwich Forum, and found every shade of opinion from the ecstatic to the unprintable! So I thought it was about time the SLB went and had a look for ourselves.
The restaurant is in the former Blue & Green (or was it Green & Blue?) wine shop and café. The main room has the feel of a tapas bar with lots of high chairs along the bar while the décor is stripped back and minimalist with floorboards and bare wooden tables. At the back the chefs are cooking away in their open kitchen, while the side room has more tables. The atmosphere is lively in the main room and a little quieter in the side room though at really busy times some critics surprisingly complained that it was too noisy. I guess you wouldn’t describe it as ‘cosy’, it’s more a place you’d go with friends for a lively lunch or dinner.
We went for lunch starting with some nice olives and a couple of glasses of Spanish Penedes, a crisp white wine which was very decent; in fact, the wine list is extensive and interesting. My friend followed with smoked eel risotto while I had the sea bass with clams in a shellfish broth. Both tasted good and were perfectly well cooked. Although the menu is laid out as starter/main/dessert, this is confusing because in fact it is supposed to be a ‘sharing plates’ menu, although it only says this on the website. I would say generally that the dishes are somewhere between tapas and a ‘normal’ main course in size and in price. For dessert we had almond cake, which was nice without being anything special, while the coffee was really good. The bill came to just under £50 including the friendly and efficient service.
So was it ecstasy or agony? Well the answer is somewhere in between. It’s a nice place and there’s a good atmosphere but, considering the quality and portion size of the food, I’m not sure it’s great value for money. Also, there doesn’t seem to be any kind of theme running through the menu – if you asked me what kind of restaurant it is, I would struggle to put it in any genre. Overall I would say it’s worth a visit and I’m sure it will gather a following in the area, but although I liked the place, for me the food lacked a ‘wow’ factor. Obviously, it’s early days yet for Toasted and I’m sure there’s some refining to be done, so time will tell if it is to fulfil its potential.
Toaste.d. 36-38 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich SE22 8JH