Sitting at the newly opened The Friendly Toast in downtown Portland was like hanging out in an old fashioned snow globe, with fabulous food and great music.
In total, there are 10 Friendly Toast restaurants in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and now finally Maine. A reasonable life goal would be to reach all of them. I’ve only been to three so far, but they’re all out there, waiting for me, waiting for you.
Before I had even a sip of coffee or a bite of food, I was passing out in my booth at The Friendly Toast. Yes, actually, he had me at hello. Everywhere I looked there was a retro lamp, a band poster from the past, a wacky piece of art, or a wacky photograph. The first song I heard was by Hall & Oates, for Pete’s sake.
My only mistake was going on a weekday, which meant I couldn’t order a Bloody Mary flight. Or something called Shandy’s Painkiller made with silver rum, cream of coconut, pineapple, orange juice, and nutmeg. Hmm! Other than that, my visit to The Friendly Toast, which opened in early October, was a magical and delicious experience.
The menu is extensive and the appetizer list was no joke. Hello, breakfast egg rolls and churro bites.
I dodged those calorie bullets, but more than made up for them when I wisely ordered the Irish Benny ($16). This glorious dish consists of a thick-cut English muffin that plays host to house-made corned beef hash, a duo of poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and a side of homemade red potato chips. The dish didn’t stand a chance against my appetite, and between sips of hot, fresh coffee and singing 70s gems, I devoured this flavorful meal. Corned beef hash is one of my favorite foods, but I rarely order. The Friendly Toast made the wait worth it.
I don’t usually question my wife Tracy’s ordering decisions. She is a gourmet chef who cooks much healthier than me. But I had to roll my eyes when, in a sea of decadent dishes like Donut Stop Believin’ (a breakfast sandwich with a French toast donut), she ordered a salad. She told me that she just wanted it. Like the robot in “Lost in Space,” my only response was, “It doesn’t calculate.”
Along with my Irish Benny, I ended up having crow because the Red Southwest Salad ($16) looked gorgeous and delivered flavor wise too. The salad consists of iceberg lettuce, chicken breast topped with Rice Krispies, fire-roasted poblano corn, shredded carrots, black beans, pico de gallo, pickled red onions, chimichurri sauce, and cojita cheese, all tossed with ranch dressing. Tracy opted for the citrus vinaigrette, which she said went well with the salad.
There was plenty of chicken that was salty and crunchy from the cereal topping, and while she would have preferred fresh cilantro over a pureed version, Tracy gave the salad high marks. She also loved the bright colors and interesting accessories that are a welcome change from the many wood and brick interiors in Portland.
Salads aren’t the only non-breakfast menu items. There are several bowls, such as The Buff Mac (cavatappi pasta tossed with vegan sausage, chimichurri, vegan cheese, tomato, spinach, onion, garlic, roasted mushrooms, asparagus, and roasted red peppers), and plenty of burger and chicken sandwich options.
Do you have a sweet tooth? Then try a stack of King Cakes, which are three mini banana-chocolate chip pancakes topped with bacon and finished with a drizzle of peanut butter and whipped cream. Calm my beating heart! (Perhaps literally.)
Here’s one more to daydream about. Highway Strawberry is two slices of thick-cut French toast topped with cheesecake frosting, chocolate drizzle, fresh strawberries, and powdered sugar.
The Friendly Toast may have taken a long time to find a home in Maine, but I have a feeling it will be around for a long, long time.
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