Dining

Review: Toast Fine Food and Coffee

Breakfast food with a touch of whimsy.

April 2009

Toast Fine Food and Coffee
(2.5 out of four stars)
2700 W. Bowles Ave., Unit B, Littleton, 303-797-9543

The Draw Fun-filled breakfast menu serves over-the-top pancakes and French toast combinations.
The Drawback Service is erratic; egg dishes lack consistency and flavor.
Don't Miss The pancake flight, bananas Foster pancakes, Oreo pancakes
Vegetarian Options Pancake flight and all pancake options

All too often, breakfast is a minion of habit. Bowls of instant oatmeal and frozen waffles are handy but cheerless in the early morning hours. Only during weekend brunch does the meal get its due, with syrup-doused pancakes, golden-fried French toast, and decadent omelets. At these moments, breakfast becomes an occasion—even a treat.

Which is why, on a recent Saturday morning at the too-early hour of 7:30 a.m., I've got a car full of giddy 10-year-olds. The promise of hotcakes topped with Oreos and French toast garnished with caramel and clouds of whipped cream has my normally sleepy daughter and her friends chatting all the way from Boulder to Toast Fine Food and Coffee in Littleton.

With its menu of morning staples, Toast serves much more than just gussied-up pancakes—it also offers lunch. But the hotcakes are clearly Toast's forté. Look around the sunny dining room and you'll likely find the hot, fluffy cakes at every table, alongside eggs Benedict and stuffed omelets. The combinations are delightful and often childlike in inspiration, such as the riotously colored Fruity Pebble ($2.99) or over-the-top Oreo pancakes ($3.99-$8.99) slathered with marshmallow fluff and chocolate fudge. As at Snooze downtown, with its Butterfinger hotcakes and French toast stuffed with Ghirardelli chocolate chips and banana cream, Toast owners Bill Blake and Jason Parfenoff set out to open a lighthearted spot that turned breakfast into something special—into something you wouldn't want to miss.

By the time my party of 10-year-olds sits down at an old-fashioned Formica-topped table, they've already made their choices. I half expect them to order flights ($10.99) so they can each try four different pancakes, but they barely glance at their menus before ordering the Oreo, Plain Jane with a side of beef hash, and lemon zest and fresh blueberry pancakes ($3.99-$8.99) sprinkled with gingersnap crumbs and a side of sausage ($2.99). While the kids debate their smoothie choices, I go back and forth between the strawberry-banana cheesecake pancakes ($8.99) and the bananas Foster ($8.99). I settle on the latter (plus a cup of Novo coffee, $2.25) because, on the last visit, despite a tender graham cracker crust and a perfect cake, the warm cream cheese sauce was too thin on the cheesecake pancakes, and the mushy, thawed-out frozen strawberries were poor substitutes for fresh fruit.

Our breakfast arrives, and we all dig into the hot-from-the-griddle treats. I've chosen well—the bananas Foster cakes are decadent, albeit very sweet, with a rich, buttery sauce, banana slices, and lightly toasted pecans all beneath a pile of fresh whipped cream.

Before I start in on my second cake, I take a sip of the dark, locally roasted Novo coffee and glance up at the kids' progress. They've all but abandoned their manners and willpower and are finishing off the last traces of the Oreo pancake—it is, by far, the hands-down favorite. But the tender, artisanal Polidori sausage and the balanced corned beef hash (made with exquisite, Denver-based Custom Corned Beef) also get a thumbs up from them and me.

The smoothies ($2.99-$4.99), however, are left largely untouched. All three options—strawberry, mango, and peach—were delivered icy and flavorless. The thin, ho-hum drinks sit melting while the kids simultaneously moan about full bellies and turn their attention to coloring pictures of toast—inspired, no doubt, by the toast-shaped art that decorates the walls—on the children's menus.

Another sip of coffee and I push my plate aside to reflect on how nicely this family-friendly, no-frills restaurant fits into Littleton's hometown atmosphere. The warm colors of butter and plum jam, the welcoming, unpretentious atmosphere, and the proximity to Old Town Littleton's Main Street draws in families, young and old couples, and singles looking for hot coffee and the morning paper. Not too fancy, not too plain, Toast serves as the perfect jumping-off spot before a day spent meandering from shop to shop. It doesn't have the urban edginess or retro-cool vibe of Snooze, but it's an easy spot to bring the whole family.

As the check arrives, I think back on all my visits and even consider my next order: I'll pass on the eggs Benedict and breakfast burrito, which are not nearly as refined or flavorful as those at Snooze, but I may easily be swayed by the caramel-pecan French toast ($8.99). Or, if my willpower is on low, I'll dive into the gravy cakes (buttermilk griddle cakes filled with sausage and topped with sausage gravy) without an ounce of guilt.

In the meantime, the kids will be dreaming of an Oreo overload, but instead of sharing with other 10-year-olds they'll be thinking of their very own plates.