Comfort food for a Cause at Toast Kitchen + Bakery Fried Chicken and Belgian Waffle

Toast Kitchen + Bakery: Costa Mesa, California

Dunch, donations, and dedication to comfort food with a twist, Toast Kitchen + Bakery treat lunch and dinner (dunch) patrons to unique dishes and flavor combinations. More than that, however, are the 10% profits going to local charities personally checked by the Executive Chef and Co-Owner, John Park.

With the ability to create flavors that are both sweet and savory, Park’s passion for uniting and giving nourishment to those in need through food guides his way in the community.

There is a lot of energy for this community of diners from the staff who greet you at the door and engage in a real conversation, to the wait staff taking and delivering your order, to the owners who bid you farewell and offer bakery bites on your way out the door.

Location:  Toast Kitchen + Bakery is located at 1767 Newport Blvd, Costa Mesa, California near 17th Street.

Menu: The menu is geared to foodies, families, vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free eaters – most with an Asian twist. The food is locally sourced from farmer’s markets.

Brunch (served until 2 pm) is a mélange of light and heavy feasts.

Vegetarian selections include Greek Yogurt Parfait, Avocado Toast, Nutella Stuffed French Toast, and Buttermilk Pancakes.

Tasty and spicy gluten-free Thai Chile Chilaquiles have exotic ingredients like lap cheong, a sausage made from pork and fat that is marinated, salted and smoked, pulled pork, and sous vide egg. The Cajun Shrimp & Grits, also gluten-free, include old bay tater tots.

Comfort food really comes into play with Fried Chicken & Waffle. The herb buttermilk brined chicken is crispy and crunchy. Served over a Belgian waffle with vanilla butter and Vermont maple syrup, it is truly delectable.

Lunch and Dinner include salads and sandwiches and have added entree items such as Cassoulet with Duck Confit (pork sausage, white beans, red wine tomato broth, and bread crumbs); Barramundi with herb and butter rice, sumac and salsa Veracruz; California Burger with Fries; and even a Blue Plate Special of piri piri (Portuguese chilis)  citrus marinated chicken, smashed potatoes, broccolini, and garlic coleslaw.

Avocado Salad and Chorizo Patty Melt are two vegan plates on the dunch menu.

The Taco Tuesday menu offers fried fish, carnitas, or carne asada Street Tacos, and a Pumpkin Chorizo Taco. They are accompanied by chips & salsa, fries, Chilaquiles, and Poke Nachos with a small variety of Margaritas.

Thoughts: Whoever dreamed up the combination of fried chicken and a waffle was crazy and smart! I know this is not a new dish, but it was for me. The marriage of savory and sweet flavors like this is startling but very appealing with its crusty and very moist chicken.

This was the first time I’ve had Yuzu Lemonade. Yuzu, which is a citrus fruit similar to a small grapefruit, is very aromatic and is used like lemons in Japanese and other cuisines. This lemonade was not too sweet and not too tart, it was just right!

While I had a basic understanding of sous vide cooking, I learned more about this technique from my visit to Toast. The sous vide egg that was nestled in the Thai Chile Chilaquiles was a perfect soft-boiled egg for me as I do like my eggs runny.

Dogs are welcome in the outdoor seating area. They are served water from their very own shiny silver bowl.

Toast, the modern American diner, easily accommodates customers with disabilities. Tables are effortlessly accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.

I hear the Happy Hour is not to be missed. The master Mixologist and bar veteran from Hawaii, James Mullis, created new Asian-infused cocktails that include yuzu upon his arrival at Toast. The drink menu is quite extensive.

John Park addresses issues in the community such as homelessness, drug addiction, food insecurity, and poverty. In addition to monthly donations, he employs 10-15% of the front and back of the house from this demographic. I don’t think his business model could possibly make the food taste better. However, it is heartening to see the success Toast is enjoying in the community.

Price Range:  Moderately priced, the brunch, lunch, and dinners run from $10 to $ 22. Cocktails are $9.95 to $13.95. The Dinner Desserts are $7 and $8.

DisclosureToast Kitchen + Bakery hosted my brunch and unlimited lemonade refills on this visit.

Julie Diebolt Price
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