Sitting in downtown Portland at the recently opened The Friendly Toast felt like hanging out in an old snow globe, complete with fabulous food and sensational music.
All in all there are 10 Friendly Toast restaurants in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and now finally Maine. A not unreasonable goal in life would be to meet them all. I’ve only been to three so far, but they’re all out there waiting for me, waiting for you.
Before I had a single sip of coffee or a bite, I passed out in my cabin at The Friendly Toast. Yes, indeed, it had me at hello. Everywhere I turned there was a retro light fixture, an old band poster, a quirky piece of art, or a wacky photo. The first song I heard was by Hall & Oates, for goodness sake.
My only mistake was going on a working day which meant I couldn’t book a Bloody Mary flight. Or something called Shandy’s Painkiller made with silver rum, creme de coconut, pineapple, orange juice and nutmeg. Delicious! That being said, my visit to The Friendly Toast, which opened in early October, was a magical, delicious experience.
The menu is huge and the list of appetizers was no joke. Hello, Breakfast egg rolls and churro bites.
I dodged those calorie balls, but more than made up for them when I wisely ordered the Irish Benny ($16). This delightful dish consists of a thick-sliced English muffin with homemade corned beef hash, a duo of poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and a side of red potato fries. The dish didn’t stand a chance against my appetite, and between sips of hot, fresh coffee and singing along to the gems of the ’70s, I devoured this packed meal. Corned beef hash is one of my favorite dishes, but one I rarely order. The friendly toast was worth the wait.
I don’t normally question my wife Tracy’s ordering decisions. She’s a gourmet cook who eats a lot healthier than me. But I had to roll my eyes when, in a sea of decadent dishes like Donut Stop Believin’ (a breakfast sandwich on a French-toasted donut), she ordered a salad. She told me she just felt like it. Like the robot in “Lost in Space,” my only answer was, “Don’t calculate.”
I ended up eating crow along with my Irish Benny because the Red Southwest Salad ($16) looked great and tasted great too. The salad is made with iceberg lettuce, chicken breasts covered in rice krispies, fire-roasted poblano corn, shredded carrots, black beans, pico de gallo, pickled red onions, chimichurri sauce, and cojita cheese, all with ranch dressing. Tracy opted for citrus vinaigrette instead, which she thought went well with the salad.
There was plenty of chicken that was salty and crunchy from the granola wrap, and while she would have preferred fresh cilantro to a pureed version, Tracy gave the salad high marks. She also loved the bright colors and interesting furnishings, which are a welcome change from Portland’s many wood and brick interiors.
Salads aren’t the only non-breakfast items on the menu. There are several bowls, like The Buff Mac (cavatappi pasta 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.
sweet tooth? Then indulge in a stack of King Cakes, which are three mini pancakes topped with banana and chocolate chips, topped with bacon and topped with a drizzle of peanut butter and whipped cream. Shut up my beating heart! (Perhaps literally.)
Here’s another one to daydream. Highway Strawberry is two slices of thick-sliced French toast with cheesecake icing, chocolate drizzle, fresh strawberries, and powdered sugar.
It may have taken a long time for The Friendly Toast to find a home in Maine, but I have a feeling it will be around for a long, long time.
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