Gourmet toast trend gets Texas treatment at Society Bakery


CAFE SOCIETY | Lower Greenville’s Society Bakery has a bigger space and a bigger menu, that now included savory options like the Morning Bliss toast with bacon, above.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Executive Editor

Ever since everyone with an Instagram account and a DVR season pass to Top Chef became a self-appointed foodie, culinary crazes have become — along with sports playoffs and video game releases — a driving force in the Zeitgeist of lock-step trend-following: In-N-Out Burger, Pinkberry, Sprinkles all had their foodie fervors; so have cronuts, white truffle mac-n-cheese and housemade bitters. Trends aren’t a bad thing at all — I’m glad we have homemade sausages, gourmet burgers and artisanal cocktails anywhere we turn … as long as those doing it know how to set it apart from the pack.

Which brings us to toast.

It’s been about a year-and-a-half since gourmet toast became a “thing;” it started in San Francisco, and expanded to New York City and other cities pretty quickly. When I went to Columbus, Ohio, earlier this spring to write about its food scene, a toast bar had just opened. In the Midwest.

A lot of the vogue surrounded charred loaf slices was limited to artisanal breads gussied up with simple toppings: Butter, jam, a shmear of Nutella. Period. Typical cost: Four bucks.

But Texas has something to prove. Hell, we already have a toast named after our state. We do toast our way, dadgummit. We don’t follow, we lead.

Only no one has led so far. Until I stepped into Society Bakery recently.

Society has been around for a minute, though it only moved into its new digs on Lower Greenville Avenue within the last year or so. And Society has mostly been the kind of bakery that specializes in sweets — cookies, cupcakes, pies. The Ellen DeGeneres Show even declared Society’s cupcakes among the top 10 in America a few years back; that’s not wrong.

But the proprietor, Roshi Muns, hired Erron Star Depew to update the menu with more savory options. And her first foray was into the realm of toast.

The bread isn’t actually made in-house; it comes mostly from Empire. The prices (between $4 and $5, plus extra for add-ons) are comparable to the basics you get in other cities. But in true Texas fashion, the options are more than jelly and butter; they are, in fact, full-on meals.

Depew has paired bread options with specific toppings, but you can customize. Choose between sourdough and baguette, rye or whole wheat, and an old-school favorite, pumpernickel. Or just stick with their game plan.

The best of the lot, no doubt, is the Morning Bliss: a sort of open-faced breakfast buffet of housemade pimento cheese (another trend touch-point!), sliced boiled egg, tomato, bacon strips and a garnish of fruit and microgreens … all perched atop of slab of toast. You’d be best to eat it with a knife and fork — they don’t have a drive-thru for good reason. (The Cali is a winning replacement for those who don’t want bacon —we call those people “infidels” — with its mix of mashed and whole slices of avocado.)

Some of the toast options are even sweet, including the cinnamon-sugar and the brulee with its almost butter, banana and feta (though, for me, the combination was a bit jarring, with the salty feta competing with the nutty butter and sweet banana). With the shop’s garden-style setting, a stop into Society Bakery feels like a dainty but unpretentious haven for slowing down to enjoy artisan sandwiches, quiches, salads … and now toasts.

Still, save room for sweets. Ellen does.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 3, 2015.