>> Friday, February 26, 2010
Funky. Tacky. Retro. Kitschy.
A neighborhood icon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire since 1994, The Friendly Toast has been a hit there, commanding long waits for its creative breakfast items, huge portions, and great food. This past spring, owners Melissa and Robert Jasper finally opened a second outpost in Cambridge. They worked hard to make sure that the second place embodied the character of the original one, down to the knick knacks that adorn the walls, the bright green paint, and the wacky menu items.
The Friendly Toast serves a variety of food, focusing mostly on brunch-like items (pancakes, French toast, eggs, and the like), but also serving sandwiches, burgers, and milkshakes (frappes, they're called in New England). It's sort of a chi-chi hippie granola version of a diner -- diner-like food with a twist: creative ingredients, vegan-friendly choices (tofu scramble anyone?), and wacky names (mmm . . green eggs and ham). Honestly, Cambridge is the perfect city for this type of place.
Lines are super long on weekends, especially during brunch time. Fortunately, they open until 1 AM, one of the few places in Cambridge to do so.
Check out some of the dishes we've enjoyed!
Huevos Rancheros $9.75
Not quite the Mexican version, this one has cheddar melted on a thick slice of homemade anadama bread topped with two poached eggs, avocados, and salsa. Oh, and a side of home fries. The homefries were delicious, and the toast was good too.
Scrambled eggs . . .
Blue and Provolone melted on French fries with a strawberry habenero dip
Oh my goodness - we got this as an appetizer and it was SO GOOD!!! Not only was the texture of the fries amazing, the strawberry habenero sauce was addictive! I love sweet and spicy combinations, and this was no exception. Sweet with just enough of a kick to get you coming back for more. No one could stop eating this.
Pancakes [1 cake - $4.50/$5.50; 2 cakes - $6.50/$7.50; 3 cakes - $8.00/$9.00]
You order pancakes not as a stack, but individually, either plain or with blueberries, heathbar crumbles, and/or chocolate chips. I ordered the plain one and it was fantastic. One pancake is pretty big. Two was definitely way too much food (heh heh, especially after gorging on those fries!)
French Toast - $4.50
I love their French Toast. Their homemade bread is really good, and they make the toast really eggy, which I love. Super moist, eggy, and made with wonderful bread. YUM.
fried haddock, avocado, black olives, spicy tartar sauce, lettuce, plum tomato, and red onions
My friend Peter loved this sandwich. Bryan, on the other hand, though it was alright, but not nearly as good as a fish taco. He might be biased though - he doesn't really like wraps that much.
Over all thoughts?
Some of their dishes are really fantastic, such as the French toast, the pancakes, and the cheesy fries. The various egg scramble dishes are pretty good, although I'm not sure if they're worth an hour wait. I think the restaurant is severely understaffed on the weekends (or at least it was the weekend I went). The line was super long, yet many of the tables were open, just not cleaned up yet. The few harried workers on duty were running around like crazy. Service was almost unbearably slow, but it wasn't really our server's fault. We could tell she was overloaded with work. They need more workers!
It's possible it was just an off night, and the service isn't always that bad. The one time we went in the evening (when there was plenty of seating available), the service was fine.
Over all, the food is definitely solid, and there are some standout winners to try. I hope they work out their staffing issues, as it's pretty tough to go on a weekend right now. Do check it out, though! At the end of the day, I really want this place to succeed. Great food, reasonable prices, excellent vegetarian options, and creative dishes. We like having those types of restaurants in Cambridge. :)
The Friendly Toast
One Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA 02139