Whiskey snobs and fancy toast aficionados now have some common ground in Slightly Toasted (22 N. Clinton St.), a new all-day bar and café in the space once occupied by wine bar Mila. Toasted is a family affair, with father-son duo Art and Tyler Mendoza (Barrel Aged Hospitality) at the helm and brother-sister duo Omar and Brenda Garcia (both of Oak & Char) holding court in the kitchen. John Chesney (Green Door Tavern) stewards the extensive 170-bottle whiskey collection, which includes everything from American single malt to Japanese whiskey and Scotch.
Thirsty patrons can also sip on one of the 11 house cocktails, three of which are available on tap, or take a dive into the 50-deep beer list. It’s mostly bottles and cans, and mostly craft—but there is a decent selection of cheap “Old Man Beer,” i.e. Hamm’s, Old Milwaukee, and PBR. The 14 beers on tap include some surprises, like Anchor’s Old Foghorn, which, according to Art, is getting its first tap in the state of Illinois at Slightly Toasted. There is also a respectable—though relatively small—wine list.
But Slightly Toasted isn’t merely a bar that opens at 7 a.m.: Patrons who swing by in the morning will find a selection of house-made pastries courtesy of Brenda Garcia (who put in time under Iliana Regan at the tragically short-lived Bunny) and the house’s trademark selection of toasts. Served all day, the toasts start at around $4 and max out, with primo toppings like steak and eggs, at around $7. Also on the fancier end of the toast spectrum: one of the more decadent takes on avocado toast in recent memory. Minimalists can score a hearty slice of buttered toast for just $3. There are nine types of bread in all, each fermented, kneaded, and baked in-house. The classic thick-cut white bread, per Tyler Mendoza, might just steal the show: “That’s an Art Mendoza specialty. It’s really, really good—as good as white bread can be.”
The combined lunch and dinner menu offers a solid selection of tartines, sandwiches, salads, and starters. But Mercúrio—a biweekly pop-up dinner series at Slightly Toasted—will allow the Garcia siblings to strut their stuff in earnest. On alternating Saturdays starting in March, diners can expect to drop around $75 on a tasting menu that includes bread and dessert courses—whiskey and wine pairings optional. Gluten fiends take note: the breads for Mercúrio will be specially baked for the occasion, so it will be the only chance to taste unique concoctions like Brenda Garcia’s tres leches loaf.
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