A slight apology to start with. This is yet another positive review. In a long string of positive reviews. If it feels like I've mistitled the blog (I had one wag suggest it's recently been closer to the Gushing Gourmet, though that was before this week's post on 'Why I hate food markets') then I can only apologise for misleading you. If you're looking for a side of bile and vitriol with every main course, I suggest you head over to AA Gill's muscularly snarling man-spot in The Times.
I'm not going to apologise for a run of lovely meals. I'm having far too much fun for that. I mainly put it down to my restaurant radar, vastly improved over recent years, and the result of reasonable research (or so I'd hope). While it's true that a true car crash dinner (like last year's trip to Bistro De La Gare) is a source of much amusement, generally I don't like having bad meals just so I can dissect them for your pleasure, you're more than capable of doing that yourselves.
Toast.ED is a case in point. Why wouldn't I come here when everyone I know who has been has raved about it. A new kid on the block in smugly gentrified East Dulwich, it occupies the space vacated by one of my old favourites Green & Blue. Thankfully, it's got the look and feel of a welcome reboot of that friendly if haphazard local winestore and deli rather than being a wholesale makeover by another smug middle-class chain.
It's the second weekend in a row I've arrived for one of the rickety wooden tables in the front of the store and stretched out with well brewed Allpress coffee while pondering the menu. Last week I didn't crave for anything more than soft avocado on thick toast, perked with the lightest touch of chilli and lemon juice, this week I loitered over another excellent coffee until the lunch menu came on line.
A whole, smiling mackerel arrived lounging on a thick slab of toast, begging for finger licking evisceration and a healthily Chinese attitude towards digging the plump nuggets of fresh pearly flesh from its bones. Dusted with toasted ginger (sadly a little lost in the flavour of the fish) it's a thing of simple beauty and, assuming it pops up again on a frequently changing menu, one of the nicest summer lunches I could imagine.
If that was the starring role at lunch, it came very ably supported by a simply blanched courgette, parsley and caper salad and a lovely, if slightly shy, Muscadet from the wine vats lining the walls of the cool, refreshing industrial space.
Those vats offer reasonably priced take out or drink in house style wines, a beautiful French concept we haven't really cottoned on to here. At 11-12 quid a bottle for on sales it makes a fine argument for more people doing the same. The food prices too are very reasonable, and you won't spend more than fifteen a head without a bottle of that wine, though why you wouldn't have one, I can't imagine.