No. 55, French Toast at Starling Diner

Our humble rag anointed Starling Diner's French toast as the “Best French Toast” a few years ago, but it was a category we created specifically for it–there were no other candidates.

To see it for the first time will permanently alter your definition of French toast. First, it's broiled, not fried. And it starts not from a square loaf of bread, but rather a length of baguette, which is soaked whole in a bona-fide crème Anglaise. Then its topside is slit open to receive an injection of mascarpone. That finishing touch technically distances the dish from breakfast and nudges it ever closer to dessert, but who's complaining? Two toasts come to an order, one buttery log leaning on the other under squiggles of sauce and a smattering of fresh berries, caramelized apples or cherries cooked in their own reduction.


In the eating, Starling's French toast is faintly crispy on the edges and so softly malleable wherever the custard has permeated that you can scoop it up with a spoon. You eat it with a bit of whipped cream, maybe a few pieces of fruit to undercut the richness, but you look forward to the eventuality of that cheesy center–the part you save for last.

I've had the dish twice on two separate visits, violating a self-imposed rule of not ordering something I've already tried on a previous trip. I did it not to confirm its greatness, but because, as with the juicy pork dumplings at the legendary Din Tai Fung chain, Starling Diner's French toast is the dish that defines the restaurant. You can't leave without having it.

The list so far:

56. The $7 Three-Item Combo Plates at Yu's Garden
57. Gudeg at Indo Ranch
58. Salted Caramel Gelato at N'Ice Cream
59. Live Amaebi at Sushi Imari
60. Any Burrito from Dos Chinos
61. Olive Tree's Iftar
62. Sonoran Dog at Rubalcava's
63. Sizzling Hiramasa Sashimi at The Catch
64. Yakisoba Dog from Dogzilla
65. Crispy Pork Belly from Lucca Cafe
66. French Toast with Bacon at Flurries Shaved Snow Bar
67. The Venetian Roll at Sushi at The Venetian Gentleman's Club
68. Okaki Asparagus at Hamamori
69. The “Fried Egg” at Eat Chow
70. Nam Kao Tod at Vientiane Restaurant
71. Chicken Ramen at Jinya Ramen Bar
72. Pig Snout at Tacos & Carnitas Sahuayo
73. Kale and Mushroom Flatbread at 320 Main
74. Congee at King Lobster Palace
75. Fish and Chips at Slapfish
76. Fries at Playground

77. Carne en Su Jugo at La Cocina de Mi Abuelita
78. S'mores at Ti Amo Biscotti & More
79. Broken Rice at Dat Thanh
80. Bulgogi and Potato Pizza at Chicken & Pizza Love Letter
81. Braised Bacon at Break of Dawn
82. Cake Donut at Cream Pan
83. Bistec de Pollo at Mercado El Rey
84. The Rhino at Rancho a Go Go
85. Cabernet Brownies at Blackmarket Bakery
86. Cookie Monster at Lola Ice Cream and Deli
87. Polenta Board at CUCINA Enoteca
88. Falafel Taco at Taco Asylum
89. Wagon-Wheel Bread at THE RANCH Restaurant
90. Toothpick Tacos at Mexico Supermarket
91. Hoppin' John at Memphis at the Santora
92. Free Beans and Chips at Taqueria Zamora
93. Pig in a Blanket Waffle with Gringo Bandito at Cafe Calacas
94. “Pork Hash” at Huong Giang
95. Sweet Chili Chicken Quesadilla At Kogi
96. Licuados at Mil Jugos
97. Hawaiian Ahi Poke at California Fish Grill
98. Takoyaki at Takoyaki Tanota
99. Fiesta Noodles at Jollibee
100. Chilaquiles Verdes Con Huevos Estrellados at La Tablita California

Click here to view our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2010!
Click here to view our 100 Favorite Dishes of 2011!

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