The kitchen at Toast is so tiny that chefs Joe Horvath and Jennifer Plank are surely breaking some laws somewhere as they slip and slide past each other nightly while producing their sexy farm-to-table menu in Cleveland’s Gordon Square neighborhood. All that heat in the kitchen has led to the couple’s recent engagement and Toast emerging as one of the city’s most exciting new restaurants.
The kitchen drama does periodically spill out into the dining room as either Horvath or Plank dash out the door and down the street to harvest more fresh veggies and eggs from a compact urban farm they’ve created on a vacant neighboring lot. What surfaces from that plot is exquisite dirt candy and plenty of reasons to change the menu daily.
Recent menu items that have thrilled diners and critics alike include a rolled egg crepe filled with smoked perch, pickled strawberries and a dill crème fraiche; lamb ribs with pickled red cabbage and cucumber yogurt sauce; and mini French toast topped with sausage, a spicy maple glaze and a fried egg. “They’re consistently nailing it, night after night,” wrote Cleveland Magazine.
Horvath, 25, and Plank, 24, are veterans of Jonathon Sawyer’s Greenhouse Tavern, a 2009 Bon Appetit Best New Restaurant. Now they’ve teamed with Jill Davis, a wine and cocktail aficionado who has created a funky farmhouse environment where some of the city’s best talent can strut their stuff. Fronting the bar there is Kevin Wildermuth, a master mixologist RH featured early last year.
In the words of a reviewer from the Cleveland Scene, “Toast is cuter than a day-old piglet, but it’s the food that deserves the most attention.” Toast does have a lot to offer, including its two talented young chefs. One can only imagine just how terrific Horvath and Plank will be in the years ahead.