IF YOU GO
• Where: Toast Cafe, 326 Vine St.
• Hours: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
• Price range: Sandwiches and wraps are between $5.95 (veggie) and $7. Salads are $7. For breakfast, a B'eggel Egg Sandwich will set you back $2.65 and bagels and lox runs $5.25.
• Contact: 756-9995 or toastcafechattanooga.com
I like coffee a lot and have to have a cup or two in the morning, but if I drink it after 10 or 11 a.m., I can't sleep that night. Because of that, I tend to choose a non-coffee shop place to eat. That and a lot of them seem to focus on sweets.
While Toast Cafe on Vine Street places a heavy emphasis on its coffee and tea drinks, it also has a better-than-expected breakfast and lunch menu. In fact, it's a really good menu and based on just one visit, I'm excited to go back and try other items.
Toast offers several coffee drinks, including espresso, latte and cappuccino and about the same number of teas. You can also order a hot chocolate or a caramel apple cider. Many of the coffees and teas also can be ordered cold or frozen.
For breakfast, you can get a B'eggel Egg Sandwich with or without meat or cheese. There is also a steak and egg sandwich, a vegetable sandwich on either a bagel or an English muffin, yogurt, fruit and oatmeal.
There are eight gourmet sandwiches, six classic sandwiches, six wraps and seven salads. Bread options are sourdough, marble rye, bagel of choice, whole wheat, pretzel roll or wrap.
I was torn between several items, including the Chipolte Chicken, Turkey with Artichoke Parmesan Spread and the Tuscan Sun sandwiches and the Turkey Hummus & Goat Cheese wrap.
I opted for the Tuscan Sun ($7.15) and since no soups were being offered at the time of my visit, I ordered as my side dish a bowl of Mediterranean Black Bean Salad ($2.95). Both were delicious and went well together.
The sandwich is made with ham, turkey, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, provolone and Swiss cheese and is served on a pressed pretzel roll. The salad had shoepeg corn, black beans, green peppers, red onions and Feta cheese tossed with a light vinaigrette.
For most of my visit to Toast, which was made two days after Christmas around the lunch hour, I was the only customer so it is hard to infer too much. The same person took my order at the cash register and delivered my meal. I filled my own drink glass. I will say that after the meal was delivered, I did not see the wait person again until I went to the register to ask for a to-go menu.
Toast is located in the same space where Chad's Records was -- the record shop moved right next door -- and if you ever shopped there, you will be amazed at how large and open the space now feels.
It is a fairly spartan place with little in the way of decoration. The painted tin ceiling, dark wooden floors, giant Diedrich coffee grinder and Chinese lanterns in the center of the room are pretty much it in the dining area.
One recommendation would be to place some three-paneled screens or something to hide the trash area. That said, it is the type of funky space you'd expect to find in a downtown coffee shop, and there is plenty of room and more than enough tables to feel comfortable.
Both of the items I had were very good, and I'm glad to have found another place to go for a sandwich or a salad. It may be a little off the beaten path, but there is always parking in that area and worth the trip.
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6354.