The beloved breakfast/brunch dish we know as French toast has lots of other names: among them, nun’s toast, eggy bread, pain perdu (in French), arme ritter (in German) and in England — where they tend to like silly-sounding, multi-word names for things — Poor Knights of Windsor. (If you’ve ever had the good fortune to visit the English villages Stow on the Wold or Weston-under-Lizard you know what I mean).
But back to French toast, which despite what some folks think, is not French. Food historians maintain that the dish was “invented” in medieval Europe, as a means of making otherwise stale and inedible bread into something tasty and filling. The hard, crusty bread could be “revived when moistened with milk and enriched with eggs. The traditional method of cookery was on a hot griddle prepped with a little fat.” according to foodtimeline.org. Sound familiar?
The beauty of French toast is that in its simplest form, it can be whipped up quickly for a more-festive-than-usual breakfast, even on a weekday. But it can also be stuffed with fruit and cream cheese, given a crunchy coating or even, as at The Good Table in Cape Elizabeth, morph into a something else altogether — simultaneously rich and ethereal. (It’s good for you too — look there’s fruit! ) Here is that delicious, award-winning dish, plus a few more out-of-the-ordinary French toast creations served at restaurants in and around Portland.
20 Milk Street, Portland Regency Hotel, 20 Milk St., Portland
Bintliff’s American Cafe, 98 Portland St., Portland
Porthole Restaurant, 20 Custom House Wharf, Portland
The Good Table, 527 Ocean House Rdad, Cape Elizabeth
Whether it’s fuel for an active day, a way to keep the party going or hangover cure, brunch is a key component of weekends in Portland. Take a gander at our handy guide: