TOASTED, EAST DULWICH

Call it Toast, Toasted, Toast East Dulwich… whatever you call it, do so with a glass in your hand. For not only do business partners Alex Thorp and Michael Hazelwood love their food, they love their wine, too. Both are given an equal footing, and both are excellent.

In fact, I’d quite like to move in here, and I don’t think they’d mind if I did. Open from morning till evening, ToastED is the kind of place you can amble into in the morning for a coffee, linger with a paper and, if you so please, graze your way through the day nibbling on dishes ranging from crushed avocado on toast (of course) in the morning to scallop ceviche, pickled onions and sorrel for lunch and Oldspot pork, Jersey Royals, spring greens, marjoram and verjus for dinner. Of course you can just call in for that essential afternoon glass of Picpoul de Pinet, too.

A friend and I arrived on a very busy Wednesday evening, which is a pretty common occurrence for this popular addition to the neighbourhood (ToastED has just celebrated its first birthday – it opened in late May 2013), yet the staff somehow kept the masses fed and watered with genuine smiles and time to help you out with the menu. This place has four wine tanks, with wine shipped in bulk, so you can sup away in house, or fill a reusable bottle to take home, at very reasonable prices (£10.45 a litre for the house white).

The raw mackerel, ginger and white soy and crab, broccoli and sorrel is fabulous

The raw mackerel, ginger and white soy and crab, broccoli and sorrel is fabulous

Now the food. It is divine. The produce-led menu focuses on seasonal ingredients, and head chef Michael Hazelwood, who honed his skills at Attica in Melbourne (one of the best restaurants in the world), is a master at balancing flavour and texture. The menu is pretty informal – select a few dishes tapas-style, or go for three courses. We did a bit of both, starting with dishes of fresh cheese, onions and dill, peas, curd, yolk and almonds – simple, but expertly executed – raw mackerel, ginger and white soy and crab, broccoli and sorrel. All fabulous – fresh, light and utterly devourable, especially that mackerel.

Then the ‘mains’. The shoulder of lamb with toasted cauliflower, chard and walnut puree was gorgeous, as was my friend’s cod with tomato and kohlrabi. And dessert: a coconut sorbet with lemon curd, brown butter and oats and sourdough biegnets, a kind of half doughnut, half fritter, were rather naughty but nice. One of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten.

36-38 Lordship Lane, EastDulwichSE22 8HJ; 020 8693 9021; toastdulwich.co.uk

The shoulder of lamb with toasted cauliflower, chard and walnut puree is super tender

The shoulder of lamb with toasted cauliflower, chard and walnut puree is super tender