Culinary history is littered with good ideas for food on toast.
The ubiquitous baked beans apart, there are dozens, hundreds probably, foods that can be transformed from regular dishes to "on toast".
From that simple suggestion there has sprung such inventions as the waffle and jaffle iron, the sandwich maker, and the panini toaster.
Cafes have adopted and adapted the idea as a tidy way of presenting a hot snack without actually having to cook anything. And where there are hot snacks, on chilly days there will be hungry patrons.
This week Kate Fraser rounds up a quartet of toasted items and checks out the breads, the fillings, the service, the prices.
Luciano's Espresso Bar
A busy place with a blackboard menu and attractively arranged cabinet food.
"I'll have the vegetable panini, please. To go. No, no coffee thanks, just the panini."
Two customers were served before my panini hit the heat. Two heats actually; the first to melt the cheese the second to toast the panini.
So a full 10 minutes ticked by before the double-bagged Italian-inspired filled roll came my way. I had already been identified as the customer-waiting so there was no wandering around looking for me.
The filling was generous - cheese, red onion, tomato, spinach leaves, a lot of creamy dressing, and hot enough to "cook" the fine slices of tomato. The amount of dressing turned it into a sloppy joe which made it difficult to eat without spillage, especially as it was served whole.
FICELLE FILLED WITH PESTO, BRIE, TOMATO
Selwyn St, Addington
A blackboard menu and a tempting array of cabinet food in this popular cafe but not too much in the way of "things on toast". The assistant suggested the ficelle - "it's very good," she added.
The service was superfast.
The brief heat, while making the fine flute-shaped roll deliciously warm did not begin to melt the cheese or heat the slices of tomato. The pesto spread was strong but the flavours of the filling melded together in a pleasant way. It was cut into two before being bagged and was easy to eat.
FICELLE FILLED WITH BACON, CHEESE, TOMATO
236 Centaurus Rd, St Martins
A quiet, sunny place with indoor and outdoor seating and a lot of customers turning up at lunchtime. A blackboard menu, and a small but well-stocked cabinet.
A trio behind the counter, so service was swift. The ficelle itself was crisp and warm. The amount of bacon in the filling impressed. The roll was heated sufficiently to melt the slices of brie but not the thicker slices of tomato.
Served sliced and bagged.
TOASTED SANDWICH OF BAKED EGGPLANT, WATERCRESS, PARMESAN, SWEET TOMATO SAUCE AND AIOLI
New Regent St
Slab was the world that came to mind when first seeing the generous "sandwiches" piled high at Eight.
The other option on the day involved corned beef but I have never had an eggplant sandwich toasted or otherwise, so today is the day to try the new.
There was one woman to serve, toast and wrap but she is a model of efficiency and it was getting to the end of lunch time service so seven minutes only waiting time.
The bread was brown, and good. The filling rich and interesting and not at all sloppy. The sandwich was hot and well toasted. My small quibble was the price.
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