Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Friendly Toast, Kendall Square, Cambridge

Boston's food scene has been abuzz for months about the arrival of a much loved Restaurant from Portsmouth, NH, opening a second location just outside the Boston city limits in Kendall Square, Cambridge. A favorite of University of New Hampshire students for the past fifteen years, the arrival of The Friendly Toast in Boston means simply that Breakfast has arrived. Boston is an apparent wasteland for good breakfast, there are a few jewels out there, but they are few and far between where variety rules the menu, and appetites are truly satisfied. This new opening promised to satisfy the craving.

The new location opened Sunday, May 17th, but this past Monday was the first opportunity I had to check it out. With any new place though, there are going to be kinks to work out, and so we went fully armed for either a fantastic experience, or a terrible one.

We were told there was about a 20 minute wait when we got there, but that the line was moving a bit faster than that, pleased by the news, we put our name on the list and took a seat outside on their small patio where we were told we could have a drink. This is where the kinks began. The waitress on the patio was wonderful, sweet and helpful, but obviously the flow hadn't been determined yet for working the patio. She was mobbed half the time, and the bar inside couldn't keep up with her orders, making it easier to just wait for all beverages until actually seated. Additionally, we were given a bill for our outside tab, but it had to be paid inside, where we would also pay our inside tab, but separately. It was a bit confusing.

Our 20 minute wait did stretch beyond 20 minutes, but it was such a beautiful day that relishing the weather made it pass by much faster. Finally though inside, we set to work reading through the menu, which is unfortunately abbreviated until their kitchen is fully up to speed. I settled on Huevos Rancheros, a Mexican dish which translates to a farm dish-one that the farmers in Mexico created from what was readily available to them. It was described as two poached eggs set atop Anadama bread, with avocados, salsa, and cheddar cheese accompanied by their famous home fries. Anadama bread has been a favorite of mine since childhood, a combination of key ingredients flour, cornmeal, and molasses-it makes for a really delicious bread. When I was a child I used to toast a slice of it, and then sprinkle it with brown sugar for a snack. The Toast's version had that same beautiful flavor that molasses adds to things- and was cut into big, thick slices. It was perfect for sopping up the runny egg yolk. Overall, this was a nice dish, the flavors were good, creamy avocado with the acidity of salsa cut through, and the comfort of poached eggs. However, the salsa was almost too cold for the hot eggs and provided a really weird contrast of temperatures. And sadly, only one of my egg yolks was runny, the other was completely cooked through.

Their home fries though...they were delicious. Thinly sliced potatoes mixed with lots of spices to give them a little heat- a perfect accompaniment to the meal. Another kink though, my companions potatoes were not cooked properly, and many were still rather undercooked.

He did love the rest of his meal though, egg in a hole. Basically, a slice of Anadama bread, fried on the flat top in butter, with two holes punched out and filled with eggs that are cooked right in. The bread won him over from the start, but he ran into the same problem, one egg was runny, the other was cooked through.

I can chalk all of this up to opening kinks. The staff is only partially permanent, many of the friendly faces we saw were on loan from the Portsmouth location, only in Boston to train the new folks. We were told that the kitchen staff was the same- partially from Portsmouth. It is not surprising that the flow isn't smooth at this stage, and that there are mistakes being made.

I have to make one final note- the decor was kitsch-fantastic. Wallpaper showing off old jacket covers of The Hardy Boys series, life size dolls from the 1950's, even the tables were reminiscent of the old diners. It was fantastic to take it all in and constantly notice different quirky items on all of the tables.

I have no doubt that The Friendly Toast will work out its difficulties and become the shining jewel of Cambridge that it has of Portsmouth, NH. I cant wait to return, especially when their full menu is available. I've heard amazing things about their Pumpkin Pancakes...mmmmmm

The Friendly Toast on Urbanspoon


Pegg S said...

I had a similar experience as you at Friendly Toast this past weekend. I had the Huevos and both eggs were cooked through. I will probably wait a bit before returning.. and want to try more of their menu! They were just not ready for the crowds - we waited maybe up to an hour for our food.

Boston Food Diary said...

Thanks Peg! I think you're right- a few weeks and things should work themselves out- but so disappointing that you experience TWO cooked through eggs!!

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