Words & Deeds

Former military chef opens ‘delicious’ new Boise vegan restaurant. The place is toast.

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If you sit down for lunch at one of Downtown Boise’s newest restaurants, you’ll find an unusual, affordable menu.

It’s going to cost some bread, but chef Brad Wegelin has that part covered. With tasty toppings.

Toasted, his “all-vegan artisan toast cafe,” celebrated its grand opening July 20 at 928 W. Main St. The restaurant, which adjoins Guru Donuts, debuted in late June. It seats about 22 inside and eight on the patio.

Open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, Toasted serves brunch and lunch — in a lightly browned format. Gluten-intolerant patrons are able to substitute local Gluten Free Galaxy bread in most cases for $1.50.

Some Toasted creations are uncomplicated and satisfying. The Obligatory Avo ($6), made on local Acme Bakeshop sourdough bread, is slathered and sprinkled with avocado, housemade vegan sriracha aioli, sesame and cilantro.

Others revel in self-indulgence. Banana Bread Flight Number 208 ($9.50) would make Elvis Presley turn vegan. It comes with three slices of housemade vegan banana bread covered with different topping combinations. One is peanut butter, banana, organic maple syrup and chia. Another fuses coconut oil and cinnamon sugar. The last is a smear of fig spread and shaved huckleberry dark chocolate.

To complement the baked grains, Toasted sells beer, wine, locally roasted drip coffee and other beverages.

Wegelin moved to Idaho in 2013 after being discharged from the Army, where he spent more than five years as a military chef. After familiarizing himself with the Boise restaurant scene, he noticed a void. “My being an omnivore, I saw a need to help my vegan friends,” Wegelin says.

“I was turning these gears in my mind about this idea of, ‘What can I do to support the vegan community, but at the same time, what kind of concept would be attractive to everyone, regardless of dietary choices or beliefs?’

“I was like, ‘Toast. That’s it. Toast. Everyone loves toast.’ ”

Toasted chef and co-owner Brad Wegelin shows off an order of his triple-threat Banana Bread Flight Number 208 ($9.50). Scott Wink Toasted

Wegelin, who co-owns the cafe with Guru Donuts’ proprietors, is impressing vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Google reviews range from “delicious” to “I recommend this so hard.”

After years of limited options, there are now two entirely vegan restaurants Downtown. High Note Cafe converted its menu this spring.

Initially, customers asked Wegelin why nonvegan ingredients weren’t on the Toasted menu, he says. A soft-boiled egg? Smoked trout? Bacon, perhaps?

But those requests have faded away.

“Here’s the thing,” Wegelin says. “People who eat everything eat vegan once in a while, whether they like to admit it or not. The point is, when I take those ingredients out of the things to do ... it opens up a new creative avenue for me: Like how do I appeal to the omnivore yet keep all this vegan?”

A popular item is the Dueling Cucumber ($8): toasted Acme sourdough bread cut in half — with different toppings on each portion. “I think (customers) like the idea of ordering one thing but getting two,” Wegelin says.

This being Idaho, expect accolades for the newly added Later Tater ($6). It’s the Toasted version of a baked potato: thick-sliced, toasted Acme potato bread topped with vegan sour cream, fresh-grated vegan parmesan, sea salt, cracked peppercorn and chives. The bread even contains chunks of baked-in Idaho russets.

“It’s a classic, right?” Wegelin says. “That I got excited about.”

Wegelin expects about half the menu to be permanent, but he’ll introduce something new every few weeks.

There is one glaring nontoast item available — a $5 bowl of Anew Toasted Muelsi topped with fruit and oat milk.

“I’ll probably put it on a toast, eventually,” Wegelin says.

And to offer a food that pairs well with wine, he plans to create a vegan cheese plate in the future.

“Even then,” Wegelin adds, “that’s toast. Because it’ll have crostini.”

Online: toastedboise.com.

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Entertainment reporter and opinion columnist Michael Deeds covers the Boise good life for the Idaho Statesman. He’s also freelanced for The Washington Post, Relix, Country Weekly, Velo News, Beer Advocate and more. Deeds began his Statesman career as a news intern in 1991, graduated to sportswriting, then ... here we are.