Food Stuff: Your morning slice - the crostini of the 90s

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Indy Lifestyle Online
If the fridge is bare and tonight you have to resort to that old standby, beans on toast - don't fret, you're in good company. You could be eating the same supper as customers at one of London's trendiest restaurants.

"Toast is the great unsung hero," says Ruth Mayer, General Manager of Pharmacy, Damien Hirst's latest culinary venture in Notting Hill, which has a bar menu devoted solely to the traditional snack of "something on toast". The idea was the result of a conversation between Damien and one of the restaurant's co-owners, Jonathan Kennedy.

"I was talking to Damien about what dishes we should have" says Jonathan, "and the first thing he said was `boiled egg and soldiers'. That made me think of having a bar menu based around toast. Toast is very flexible, there are so many delicious things you can do with it," he enthuses.

As well as boiled egg and soldiers for pounds 2.75, on offer at the bar, which in keeping with its name has stools in the shape of giant pills, are baked beans on toast with bacon at pounds 3.50, potted shrimps with Hovis at pounds 7.00 and for those who want to push the boat out, sevruga caviar and melba toast at pounds 35.

But Pharmacy regulars aren't the only people currently singing the praises of toasties. Food writer Lindsey Bareham has recently been extolling the virtues of Welsh Rarebit or what she calls "posh cheese on toast" in the London Evening Standard, and chef Anthony Worral Thompson featured a recipe for baked beans on toast, or to be precise, atop a croissant, on BBC2's Food and Drink programme recently.

Anthony, who reduced his baked beans and then served them with crispy bacon and cheddar cheese, puts the current trend down to the growing interest in British food.

"We've all been doing bruschetta and crostini for ages, so now it's time to go back to more traditional English things," he says.

Three truths about toast

l Around 90 million slices of toast are eaten every day.

l According to the old wives tale, if you burn your toast, it means that your sweetheart is angry with you.

l Sales of Teletubbie Toast (pounds 1.19 from Marks and Spencer) are so high that suppliers are having to work around the clock to meet demand.

Pharmacy, 150, Notting Hill Gate, London W11 (0171-221 2442). Bar snacks served: 12.30-3pm/ 6pm-midnight

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