Despite moving to Stoneygate half a year ago, our first actual experience of The Toast Inn was upon spotting – and smelling – the gorgeous mulled wine on sale at the Stoneygate Christmas Market in December.
After a few festive cups in the rain chatting to the extremely friendly and welcoming staff, the attention turned to their toastie menu featuring fantastic locally sourced meat and cheese combinations which we decided to eat in the cosy warmth of the bar. The interior of Toast is rustic but extremely snug, perfect for a rainy Saturday afternoon – with the sun-catching beer garden being ideal for the upcoming summer days.
General Manager Stefan Wells said: “I’ve always loved toast, house parties, and the industrial vibe. So I thought, how do we mix the three together?
“To be honest there’s just something about raw plumbing and brick walls that makes me want to drink and since opening Toast, we’ve learned I’m definitely not the only person who feels that way!”
The Toast Inn is situated on Stoneygate’s Francis Street; there it joins dozens of other independent shops, bars, cafes and restaurants with its neighbouring Allandale Road. So why open a gin bar here rather than the city centre?
Stefan continued: “Allandale Road and Francis Street have SUCH a good vibe! There’s a whole diverse range of people in the area and the street has masses of potential. All of the shops and bars here have a real sense of community, and that’s what Toast is all about – bringing people together.
“There are very few places in the city centre where you can sit down and actually appreciate what you’re drinking and who you’re drinking with. Stoneygate is just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre but still close enough to have a good buzz vibe.”
The focus at The Toast Inn is predominantly on the booze, but the staff acknowledge the connection between drinking and snacking and instead of providing a main menu, they decided to create a more relaxed ‘nibbles’ menu.
Stefan explained: “Toast is at its core a bar, so there was only a small amount of focus on food with the overall focus on producing good quality cocktails and serving beautiful gins, but with a name like Toast it only makes sense to serve toasties!
“But then you get to a point where in a bar that serves good drinks and has a good atmosphere people are going to want more drinks, and after 2 or 3 doubles, who doesn’t get a craving for some nibbles?
“So we thought we’d make a few antipasti boards that not only sate those cravings but also compliment the drinks.”
Whilst the bar is extremely cosy as it is, the capacity in such a small building is definitely an issue that could do with addressing. The question about expansion did pop up and it looks like a promising future for Stoneygate’s favourite gin bar. “We have huge plans for the future of the business! We have just opened a second Toast in Bedford and are looking at expanding here in Leicester because we simply don’t have enough seats to fulfil demand!”
“I imagine we’ll be staying in the same area, so watch this space because at the moment anything could happen!”
Photography by David Wilson Clarke.