The Friendly Toast

From the décor to the drinks, it's all a bit wacky — and undeniably good
By ROBERT NADEAU  |  July 22, 2009
4.0 4.0 Stars

Of the more than a dozen side orders, the bacon ($3.50) wins fans for being impossibly meaty. Omar's home fries ($3) are also popular, so much so that they have been worked into an entire meal ($8.25) with broccoli, corn, peas, and toast on the side. I had them on an off-day, when the red potatoes weren't quite done in the middle.

The Friendly Toast also features numerous waffles, including the Hansel & Gretel ($8): a mild gingerbread mix with pomegranate molasses and real whipped cream. For another two dollars you get all kinds of berries and fruit on it, too.

For real food, the hamburger ($9) is impeccable. (Remember the hamburger safari we had last summer? This would have been right up there). Add fries ($1) and they are excellent. But the sweet-potato fries ($1.50 as a burger add-on) are uncanny. The classic problem is that sweet potatoes are too moist to get really crisp. Here, they've been cut thinner and fried well, with the flavor still intact.

In the vicinity of breakfast is Solomon's Salmon Sandwich ($10.50), which wisely divides the bagel in two with heaps of smoked salmon and a cilantro-caper sauce that just doesn't quit. The falafel ($9.25) is more like a burrito than the classic Middle Eastern wrap, with four large, soft patties and plenty of spice.

Drinks include the full run of alcoholic beverages, best enjoyed next to the THINK. DON'T DRINK sign of the Missouri Christian Association, circa 1948. The real danger here is sugar. Smoothies ($5) in any combination of six fruits are so rich you don't really need anything else for lunch. The mojito milkshake ($5) — listed as a "frappe" so you know you are in Boston — combines lime (mostly) and mint (a little) flavors into an entirely seductive zillion-calorie liquid. Only the fresh lemonade ($3.50) is convincingly sour. It's also smaller than other drinks.

When we asked about desserts, the only one offered was a homemade bar of coconut, nuts, and chocolate, tooth-achingly sweet.

Servers follow the Portsmouth rule of looking funkier than the customers. But they know the menu and they get the food out. The background music runs from the '60s to the present in a seamless alt-rock sound.

There's not much about Friendly Toast that doesn't fit with Madonna's Desperately Seeking Susan period — though that's not a movie where people eat a lot, and these portions are as insane as everything else. By keeping everything at the same pitch of insanity, it all works. It's a four-star example of, well, whatever it is.

Robert Nadeau can be reached

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