Gourmet toast: the latest from Dan the Baker

Beth Stallings, Columbus Crave

Seriously, artisan toast? "I totally anticipated that reaction," laughs Daniel Riesenberger, who announced over the weekend that he will reopen his Dan the Baker storefront as Toast Bar-a breakfast and lunch spot serving up gourmet toast-on Friday, Nov. 7.

To the skeptics who wonder why they would want to pay $5 for slice of toast, the artisan baker argues: "Why don't we need a toast bar? There's this huge market of boutique, quality products. If you have such good bread, toast is a natural next step." He adds: "I don't feel like anybody can make this in their house unless they're Dan the Baker."

Open only a few months, Riesenberger closed his 10-seater Grandview café (where he also bakes bread and pastries, his work visible through a picture window inside the shop) in June. He viewed the initial setup as a test run, trying to figure out what would drive traffic to his off-the-beaten-path location in the Grandview Commerce Center off Dublin Road. He knew he couldn't offer just another bakeshop with bread and pastries-it had to be a destination. Toast was a concept he'd considering for a while, and after visiting toast concepts like The Mill in San Francisco and Intelligentsia in Logan Square in Chicago, he knew the idea would work.

Why? Because it's accessible, he says. "Everybody knows what toast is," Riesenberger says. He adds because it's such an easy concept to understand, it opens the door for creativity and complexity. The latter to Riesenberger means crafting the best bread with organic flour and quality toppings. There's nowhere to hide in something so simple, so it better be good.

"We want to highlight the quality of seemingly simple ingredients," Riesenberger says. Toast will be served on his house-made, organic breads, including mainstays like country sour (a reliable base for sweet or savory toppers) and sunflower flax (great with sweeter toppings like almond butter and maple sugar). Toppings will also be a mix of house-made items-like almond butter and butter made from Snowville Creamery cultured cream-and artisan toppers, including dark chocolate hazelnut spread from Barefoot & Chocolate and jams from Sweet Thing Gourmet.

Prices will range from $3 to $5. There will be around five set toast options each day, along with toast flights where customers can choose their bread and toppings. On the menu will be Smorrebrod-a Danish-style open-faced sandwich made with Scandinavian-style bread and topped with lox and different pickled things (Riesenberger will be pickling veggies in house).

Riesenberger has made a lot of toast in the last few months, and so he's learned a thing or two about how to turn out the best slices. Bread should be fresh, but not too fresh, riding the line between hot out of the oven and stale, he says. You need super high heat to toast it, leaving a "custardy soft interior" and "crisp crust on the outside," he says. And, most importantly, you want to eat it within the first few minutes-that perfect moment where the toppings have begun to sink into warm bread but before it turns soggy.

If you're not in the mood for toast, there will also be a rotating selection of pastries and baked goods, including croissants, Danishes, shortbread, cookies and pies. There will also be a coffee station where customers can serve themselves simple drip coffee, with a house blend sourced from Intelligentsia and rotating single origin roasts from One Line and Brioso.

Toast Bar will be located at 1028 Ridge St., Grandview, 614-928-9035, dan-the-baker.com. It will be open Wed through Sun from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.