Fashion Magazine

All About French Toast & The Best Places To Have Them In D.C.

By Tanvi Rastogi @tanviidotcom
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French Toast is older than you might think, going all the way back to Medieval times, long before France was even founded. Recipes through the ages refer to it as both “Spanish Toast” and “German Toast.”
According to the Apicius, a collection of recipes from the early 5th century AD, the dish we now know as the French toast existed as early as the age of the Roman Empire. In their style of French toast, called Pan Dulcis, Romans would soak bread in milk (and sometimes also egg) mixture, then fry it in oil or butter.

In the 15th century English court of Henry V, a version of the French toast called "pain perdu" or "lost bread" was the culinary rage. Then, it was called "lost" bread because the recipe called for soaking hard or stale bread in a mixture of milk and egg, then frying it. Pain perdu is what the French call French toast today.

So, if the French did not invent the modern French toast, who did? According to legend, it was an Albany, New York, innkeeper named Joseph French. He created the dish in 1724, and advertised it as "French Toast" because he was grammatically inept and forgot the apostrophe.

Now on the the good stuff, in the last 5 months I have had French Toast a total of 25 times. Yes, 25 times. I have been obsessed would be an under statement. It all started on my trip to Seattle this summer and once I got back, I was hell bent on finding the best French Toast in town. You can now call me a French Toast Aficionado

I have picked out my top five places to have French Toast in the D.C. area.
5. The Smith 
The Smith Restaurant French Toast
The Smith is one of my favorite places to eat (dinner review here), but it was only recently that I had tried their Brunch. The decor is beautiful, the staff is friendly and the food is delicious. Vanilla bean French Toast ($16) is made with a thick cut bread topped with maple butter and caramelized bananas is absolutely delectable. You can either split it with a friend or have it on it own. It is filling and quite satisfying. 
4. Zaytinya
Zaytinya French Toast
This year has been all about revisiting my favorite restaurants and trying their brunch menus instead of always going for lunch (review here). Zaytinya is special because it is where food meets culture. It is one of the few D.C. restaurants where you can never go wrong no matter what you choose. They serve a Lebanese-style French Toast called Ashta ($8.50) which comes with a side of seasonal fruits and mint. The toast itself is gooey and juicy. At first it looks like a toasted loaf of bread but once you taste it, it is a sweet-flavorsome goodness. A must try! 
3. Jaleo
Jaleo Bethesda French Toast
Remember how the history shows that "French Toast" has been made around the world, Jaleo is here to show you the Spanish version: Torrijas con plátano caramelizado y espuma de ron ($8.50) - Sweet-soaked toast with caramelized bananas and rum whipped cream. It was a burst of flavors in the mouth at-first-bite. One of the most palatable versions of French Toasts hands-down! Also, check out the full brunch review here
2. Founding Farmers
Founding Farmers French Toast
Vanilla cream filled French Toast ($9.50) is absolutely scrumptious. Served as fried sticks, this toast is a challenge to conquer. This toast is so decadent that it should be a crime to serve it as a breakfast item. I usually split it with someone because as much as I would like to, I cannot have all of the three sticks and still be expected to function for the rest of the day. Nonetheless, I would highly-highly recommend it. 
1. Le Diplomat
Le Diplomat French Toast

*Drum Roll* We made it to the end and to my favorite French Toast ($14) in town. Served with brandied pineapples, chantilly crème, and mint. The flavors are playful, yet balanced. While some renditions of French toast can be quite heavy, the Le Diplomat's is light and leaves you with enough room to even help out with a friend’s savory breakfast dish. This is also one of my favorite restaurants in D.C. The service is always friendly and attentive. The interiors are charming and french! And the food is also delicious.

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