Eat This

How Hipster Is the Fancy Toast at The Theodore

Welcome to How Hipster Is It, in which we try food and drink from popular Dallas bars and restaurants, and ask, how hipster is it? We evaluate the establishment’s general atmosphere, plus its most hipster menu item, using the world’s universally recognized unit of hipsterness measurement, the Bill Murray.

This week: How hipster is fancy toast at The Theodore?

The atmosphere: The Theodore is a Wes Anderson-themed bar and restaurant, which is just about the most hipster concept imaginable. A front desk straight out of The Grand Budapest Hotel, little toy cowboys and Indians scattered everywhere, simplistic yet perfectionist place settings: The only way this place could be more Anderson is if the floorplan was symmetrical. There's a truly impressive four-shelf display of whiskeys, bourbons and other nourishing brown liquids, too.

But The Theodore is held back from the rare five Bill Murrays rating by its placement in a shopping mall. You can’t get more mainstream than NorthPark Center, and even inside the restaurant there is a feel of buoyant, thriving capitalism that would rub your shaggy neighborhood flannel-wearer the wrong way. And the bartenders, on our visit, were all clean-shaven.

The experience:
Every hipster loves a good story to go with his food, especially if it involves a restaurant being impossible to find, or if the food takes serious struggle and effort to obtain. Surprisingly, The Theodore offers that. It took us, and this is true, 20 minutes to find a parking space. Maybe that’s not what they had in mind by food that’s hard to procure.

The food:
Fancy toast, in its breakfast form out in San Francisco, is the single most hipster food on the planet. Basically, artisanal bakers make a loaf of bread, toast a slice for you and serve it with jam for more money than you would ever expect to pay. Even The New Yorker attempted to explain why perfectly sane people would be paying $5 or more for a regular old piece of toast served by a guy with a Civil War beard. 

But toast at The Theodore is not that at all. It takes its cue from Scandinavia, where "smørrebrød," open-faced sandwiches, have been popular for centuries. “Toast skagen,” too, has been a Swedish thing since the 1950s. Basically, you take a thin slice of bread, then pile a bunch of stuff on top, usually including seafood.

It’s basically Viking bruschetta. And the toast at The Theodore is pretty damn delicious. We ordered the version advertised as “green olives, white anchovies and orange” (note to management: improve your parallel grammar by changing this to “green olives, white anchovies and orange oranges”). Four slices of bread held a green olive tapenade so generously applied that it resembled guacamole. Each slice bore a single anchovy, along with a small forest of spinach and other greens. Though only one small slice of mandarin orange appeared on the plate, a number of tiny sweet peppers crashed the party to add a delightful extra kick.

The olive and sardine toast is a delicious light lunch, in other words. But unless anchovies have become some sort of secret underground phenomenon, this fancy toast is just not that hipster. Instead, it’s a direct, well-crafted appeal to your salt-and-acid taste buds.

Having said that, paying $9 for toast that is less filling than a proper sandwich is still kinda hipster, or at least European.

So, How Hipster Is It? The Final Ratings

Green olive and anchovy toast, $9. The Theodore, NorthPark Center, 8687 N. Central Expressway, No. 1804, 469-232-9771

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Brian Reinhart has been the Dallas Observer's food critic since spring 2016. In addition, he writes baseball analysis for the Hardball Times and covers classical music for the Observer and MusicWeb International.
Contact: Brian Reinhart