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the friendly toast opening in cambridge!

My pops just forwarded me an article about the Friendly Toast (of Portsmouth, NH fame) opening a new location at One Kendall here in Cambridge. As someone who will often rally her fellow waitstaff on a Monday morning to make the drive up the coast for some post-weekend munching and moaning, I could not be happier. My hope: It'll rock as much as the original and pick up some of the old B Side vibe (full bar!). My fear: It'll be a watered-down version of the flagship's funk. Anyone else have fond Friendly Toast memories? Favorite dishes? Thoughts?

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  1. I haven't been, but here's an article on the new one opening soon in Cambridge:

    http://www.seacoastonline.com/article...

    1. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Wow. If they can actually replicate the original's vibe and solid food, I would be SO thrilled. I *love* the Friendly Toast in Portsmouth, and have been known to work in a stop there on pretty much any trip over the NH border whether we're actually heading in that direction or not.

      Favorite dish: Green Eggs and Ham. Side of cinnamon toast made with the house-made cinnamon swirl bread. Damn - we've got a Zipcar for a full day on Saturday, but we're heading towards Providence...

      1. This is excellent news, but I'm gonna miss the drive up to Portsmouth. And the really good record store across the street, now that I think of it. On the other hand, now Allstonian and I will have someplace to eat breakfast after our annual one-hour slot on Breakfast of Champions, and someplace to go after movies at the Kendall, so...win!

        1. Where in One Kendall? The old Anise space?

          1. this is FANTASTIC news. I always try to find an excuse to make it up to portsmouth so I can get the New Hampshire's finest - a scramble with goat cheese, asparagus, and bacon with thick cheddar jalapeno toast on the side......do we know when it'll be opening?

            1. This is SO exciting! I went to UNH and hit up the toast frequently. I hope we get the great atmosphere, amazing homemade bread (I'm already dreaming about their french toast), and 24 hour service on the weekends!

              2 Replies
              1. re: soxchik

                Is there any place at all in Cambridge open 24 hours? I wouldn't hold my breath on that. Not least because seeme to me that would be a really poor location during off hours - way out of the way of foot traffic, fo one thing.

                1. re: Allstonian

                  I figure the 24-hour service is too much to hope for, but I'll happily patronize the new toast during normal business hours.

              2. I'm already waiting in line for the huevos rancheros, with a velvet painting in one hand and an Elvis lamp in the other! Yay!

                1. Finally went to the one in NH last year and loved it. Very funky and an endless menu.

                  1. Wow...the Toast in Portsmouth totally rocks. Whenever I go there, I would always think about how cool and surprising that Portsmouth had a place like that, while Boston did not. One Kendall is really not the best place - it would do much better in Central, Harvard or pretty much any other place that is more T-accessible.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                      While One Kendall is not nearly as T-accessible as Central or Harvard, Hungry Mother does not seem to be having a hard to finding success in that neighborhood. Nor did B-Side for quite a while. To paraphrase Field of Dreams: If it is worth it, people will come.

                        1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                          They just won't come as often as they would if it was more accessible :)

                          Heck, I live in Central and I find myself not going to stuff over that way as much as I'd like just because it mentally seems "soooo far away" (even though I know it's not)

                          1. re: jgg13

                            My turn: touche.

                            I guess its easy for me to say what I did because I now LIVE in the neighborhood. But before moving to Kendall I also always thought the B-Side was on the other side of the universe. But I was also always amazed how busy it was considering it was on the other side of the universe...

                            1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                              other side of the universe ... perfect way of putting it :)

                              I talk about this w/ some of my friends quite frequently. I *know* it's not that far, but for whatever reason that whole area (stretching all hte way back to Cambridge St - I love Atwoods) seems to be 'on the other side of the universe'. I'll walk the same amount of time in another direction and not think twice about it.

                              I used to call that region of Cambridge the "Cambridge Dead Zone", there's just something about it which causes things to disappear from the conscious mind.

                      1. I desperately miss the Mr. Haegar sandwich, with sweet potato fries. Best hangover cure of my college years.

                        1. Hubs and I must the only people on the planet who aren't in love with this place. The one time we went we didn't even stay for the food, the wait staff were dirty and inept and the manager didn't seem to care. If that's funky, I'll take staid anyday.

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: mollydingle

                            No, I've seen a lot of posts in various places who are horrified by the fact that the waitstaff have visible tattoos and the tables and chairs are mismatched and second-hand and the stereo in the kitchen is blaring old Husker Du albums at 8:30 in the morning. You're certainly not alone, but I think it's mostly a matter of this place is not for you.

                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                              I would have to add, just because someone has tattoos and looks a little different than you, doesn't make them "dirty", nor "inept".
                              I have always found the service there to be courteous and prompt.

                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                Actually those are some of the many endearing features I noticed about the place!

                                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                  Tattoos and self aware 'Funkiness" we can handle. I'm talking actual dirt and grease. We tried to talk to a manager , but he/she couldn't be bothered to speak with us.
                                  I suspected I would get this reaction when I weighed in against a popular sacred cow...

                                  1. re: mollydingle

                                    Actually, I had a similar lousy service experience the last time we were up there. Couldn't hail anybody down...food took forever, and then was COLD when it arrived...couldn't get coffee refills (an absolute diner no-no)...

                                    Be all that as it may, I love that place, and am beside myself at the prospect of their cowboy eggs right here in the people's republic.

                                    P.S. Interesting that several people decided that your use of the word "dirty" referred to tattoos and not actual dirt. Kind of a big leap, don't you think?

                                    1. re: jkv

                                      I noted that, but refrained from comment. I try not to be quick to judge.

                                      1. re: mollydingle

                                        Barmy's the one who even suggested the connection between "looking different" and "dirty". I completely agree with you, Molly. Funky != dirty. Anyone remember "Someday Cafe" in Davis Sq? ;)

                                        1. re: Prav

                                          The Someday had the best espresso drinks and most comfortable, cheerful atmosphere in town. There was that waft from all the homeless using the bathrooms, but I liked that they were kind enough to let them. I mourn the place.

                                        2. re: mollydingle

                                          molly, your quote:
                                          "the wait staff were dirty"
                                          you did not say the restaurant was dirty, so what conclusion would you expect people to draw?

                                        3. re: jkv

                                          Well, given that the several dozen times I've eaten there, I've never found the place less than spotless, forgive me for not considering the place "dirty" or "greasy."

                                          Factor in that I have heard people explicitly say things like "Ew, they have all those secondhand tables and chairs and the waiters all look like they never wash their hair, gross" and you can see why I would make that leap.

                                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                            It's unfortunate, I agree. I hope as hounds we look past appearances and focus on deliciousness. :)

                                        4. re: mollydingle

                                          I think it's a little unfair to complain "I suspected I would get this reaction when I weighed in against a popular sacred cow..." because a handful of people disagreed with you, particularly since you've made a rather serious charge - that the staff of the restaurant are personally dirty and greasy. I've eaten there on quite a few occasions, and have not found the staff to be dirty or greasy, though they are indeed heavily inked.

                                          To be honest, I'm finding it difficult to imagine what exactly happened when you went there, based on your comments above. You went in, found the staff to be dirty/greasy and also in some way inept, left before being actually served, and tried to complain to a manager who would not speak to you. The whole incident sounds very strange indeed. I feel for you, but it's just hard to picture in my mind.

                                          1. re: Allstonian

                                            We went in, were seated promptly at a table that that hadn't been wiped.The waitress asked if we would like a beverage, noticed the unclean table and remarked that she'd be back to wipe it.
                                            She returned with Hub's coffeee, commented that she forgot my OJ, didn't clean the table. We waited for about 15 minutes (it wasn't especially busy) She returned -still without my OJ and with water in dirty glasses and asked us if we wanted menus. At this point, we decided this wasn't working well and asked politely to speak with the manager who was in back. The hostess didn't even ask what the problem and when the manager ddidn't appear after 10 minutes or so, we left.
                                            End of story. It may well have been an off day, but we're disinclined to give it another try.

                                            1. re: mollydingle

                                              Fair enough - a bad experience for sure. (My own approach to an unwiped table is that I won't sit down. I stand beside the table waiting till it's been cleaned. For one thing, I don't want anything to be inadvertently brushed onto my lap!)

                                        5. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                          I think the place is definitely for me (since at this point, I know most of the people who work there and I've been going there quite frequently through the last couple of incarnations of the place), but it's not without problems. Cleanliness is one of them: on, say, Saturday afternoon after they've been slammed by the brunch rush, the accumulation of glop on the floor can get ankle-deep. (Still more of an aesthetic issue than anything, and I still eat there.) Money is the other: there have also been a couple of recent price hikes, to the point where it feels like a pretty bad value for the dining dollar.

                                          They still, however, put together awesome specials that manage to combine incredibly unlikely ingredients into something completely awesome. That's why I keep going back.

                                          Another dirty anecdote: there was one waitress a while back who habitually carried drinks not with her hand around the cups but with her hand pinching the top edge of the cup, thus with half her hand in your drink. That was a bit much for me, but she also got the boot really fast.

                                          1. re: kf2vv

                                            To be fair, I don't think I've ever been at the Friendly Toast at the tail end of a heavy rush like that -- generally, we're there either fairly early in the morning or at completely odd random times -- and I certainly never met thumb-in-the-coffee girl. But the fact that she got fired quickly only supports my main contention: not only have we never found the restaurant untidy (much less "dirty and greasy"), we consistently get service that's both entirely competent and totally friendly.

                                            Again, I think that might simply be a matter of being more on the restaurant's wavelength: I have noticed that the wait staff we've had think it's funny that we spend our down time waiting for our meals looking at the walls and saying "Wait, is that piece new?" and "Didn't that thing use to be on the other wall?" and the like. Similarly, we completely made one waitress' day when we recognized that her tattoos were taken from Gorey's The Epiplectic Bicycle. I'm really not trying to be hipper-than-thou here or anything -- I am coming up on two decades past my own hipster phase -- but I really have found over the years that there are people who find the Friendly Toast unsettling in some inchoate way, including some who apparently find the place downright frightening. (And in those cases, that has usually had to do with the servers' tattoos and hair, so again, you can see why I mentioned that aspect of the place.) It really is a matter of wavelength and expectations.

                                            I apologize to mollydingle if she feels unfairly slighted, but as Allstonian says, you made a rather serious charge -- "the wait staff were dirty and inept" -- which you changed in a later post to the TABLE being dirty, not the person serving you. (An unwiped table, not matter how unpleasant that is, is something VERY different from your waiter being dirty, wouldn't you say?) My reaction had nothing to do with you having "weighed in against a popular sacred cow," but with having made an insulting and unfair accusation against a waiter who did not deserve it.

                                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                              Ahh, any Gorey-inspired art would make my day. :)

                                      2. Awesome! If it is comparable with the NH location, I have a new favorite breakfast place in Boston (not that there is much competition).

                                        1. Having lived around Portsmouth for the past 20 years, I'm not sure what the excitement is all about. The food, in the many times I have been there, has been ok, nothing special. The place is dirty. I can't comment on the waitstaff, and I find the piercings and tattoos somewhat refreshing in NH.

                                          In the times I have been in, tables are not cleaned. The glassware is filthy at times, and the kitchen area is not what I would say pristine.

                                          But then again, this place has obviously gotten the imprimateur of the heavy posters, so any criticism will be treated with invectives.

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: aadesmd

                                            Oh man. Sweet. I love it when you drop in here to tell us we are borg.

                                            "But then again, this place has obviously gotten the imprimateur of the heavy posters, so any criticism will be treated with invectives."

                                            1. re: yumyum

                                              Yumyum;

                                              I would not say borg at all. I was actually thinking of "Lord of the Flies"., or perhaps "1984". The Borg, at very infrequent times, were capable of independent thought, and Seven of Nine is irrefutable proof.

                                            2. re: aadesmd

                                              You are so full of bull! - There is NO WAY you are going to be treated with invectives for expressing that opinion.

                                              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                I always maintain the option of being wrong.

                                                1. re: aadesmd

                                                  Tags (for my comment): Sarcasm, silly, getbacktowork

                                              2. re: aadesmd

                                                I wish there were a lolcat to describe this thread. ;)

                                                1. re: Prav

                                                  I've been waiting for the right moment.

                                                   
                                                  1. re: yumyum

                                                    I was there once. The food was good. We had a pierced, tattooed waitperson which was fine with me since the service was fine. I liked the funky atmosphere. The one thing that ruined the experience for me was that it was very dirty under the booths/tables. This did look like recent dirt from a busy stretch. It looked like it had been there a long time.

                                              3. We drove to Portsmout last weekend from Boston just for Breakfast at the Friendly Toast. While Portsmouth offers much more after Breakfast than Kendall Square, we sure would love to have them here, especially if they can re-create the look of the place and the tattoos on the waitstaff. I only would wish for better coffee. It's definitely on the diner side of the coffee spectrum.

                                                1. This is the best Boston-area restaurant news ever. Ever. Seriously.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: glenn mcdonald

                                                    I agree. Love the FT in Portsmouth, wish them nothing but the best in Cambridge. Yeah, it's not pristine, but better than the old Someday!

                                                  2. I had known friends that would occassionally make the drive from Boston to Portsmouth for the brunches. I couldn't imagine what would possibly make the hour-and-a-half worth it. Using the toast as an excuse for a day excursion, I feasted there one Sunday and was delighted. The food is extraordinary and vegetarian friendly, but the best part about the Toast is the 50's decor. The wall art is impeccably chosen, and everything else is the real deal from the bakalite dishware to the moddish lamps to the formica tables. And each table, and its accompanying appernatures is completely different. Heaven for cowpunks, rockabilly angels, and indie rockers -- but also for anybody else looking to experience something completely unique.

                                                    samueljsacks.com

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: sammalama

                                                      What was the sound like? Can you chat or is it loud with music to match the decor?

                                                      Weekend breakfast is chat time, quiet conversation time for me. Is this a place to meet friends and enjoy a good catch up on things?

                                                      1. re: BostonZest

                                                        At the Portsmouth location, it depends where you're sitting. If you're near the kitchen, you're likely to have an old Husker Du or Misfits record playing quite loudly, although even then, you don't have to shout to be heard or anything. I wouldn't call it quiet, so that might be a problem for you.

                                                    2. demo guys are at the old b-side location - looks like work is underway!?

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: scubajane

                                                        Based on the article link above, it is going to be at 1 Kendall Square, right? Not the old B-side location - hopefully something good is going in there...

                                                        1. re: rlh

                                                          If they're calling the old B-Side location "1 Kendall Sq", I'm going to be irritated. I get mad enough when people refer to "1 Kendall" generically as "Kendall Square" (which is a 5+ minute walk from 1 Kendall)

                                                          1. re: jgg13

                                                            According to the Herald, The Friendly Toast is going into a space at 1 Kendall Square "across from the Blue Room" - presumably the old Anise space. Whatever is going on in the B Side space, it is not the Friendly Toast.

                                                            1. re: Allstonian

                                                              I thought it was a foregone conclusion that the B-Side was bought by the Northampton beer guy - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/588406

                                                              1. re: Allstonian

                                                                Now that you mention it, I do remember thinking of Anise in regards to the friendly toast.

                                                                This was the second mention I've seen of TFT ending up in the old B-Side space, which had been bugging me due to the "1 kendall square" distinction.

                                                                1. re: jgg13

                                                                  Yes, it's the space where Anise was. Last time I peeked in, a week or so ago, the walls were painted but blank, the tables were in but no chairs, and there were piles of stickers and swizzle-sticks on the counter by the entrance, presumably on their way to being decor. So they might actually be more or less on schedule for an opening in April. Although my birthday, the 4th, is looking a little optimistic...

                                                        2. For some reason I thought that this place was going in the old B-Side location. Does anyone know what is going there? I miss B-side

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: julieapfel

                                                            Just saw this thread. I'm originally from Portsmouth so I've spent many a late night and Sunday morning at the Friendly Toast. Service has never been one of it's strong suits, but it never really bothered me as the food and atmosphere are fab.

                                                            Last time I went for a Sat lunch with my mother, it wasn't too busy. The food took over an hour, the waiter was nowhere to be found, when I did find him and ask about our food, he mumbled something and ran away. Finally came back and literally threw our plates on the table. Food was, of course, cold. The kicker was, as I was getting ready to pay, he came back and asked me out! It was so weird. I told my mother I was ready to give it a break for a while.

                                                              1. re: Blumie

                                                                It didn't. I ran out of there like I was on fire.

                                                          2. I've never been to Friendly Toast, but it sounds awesome - ESPECIALLY with the demise of B-Side brunch! That said: does anybody else think the Anise space is cursed? I've been going to Kendall fairly regularly over the years, and nothing in that particular building seems to stick.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: erinire

                                                              I thought the Kendall Café space was cursed when it went through only one, barely opened restaurant in the three? four? years after the old place closed, but Hungry Mother has evidently proved me wrong.

                                                              As for the Friendly Toast, I have only one question: how late will it stay open?? The Skillet Doux blogger is moving to Boston and asked about late-night options. Somehow I'd managed to forget, for my own happiness, the dearth of them.

                                                            2. Allstonian and I were in Portsmouth this afternoon. Although the FT there is closed for renovations (back up this weekend, they hope), we ran into an employee out back as we were going back to our car: she said they're looking at May 1 for an opening date, fingers crossed.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                                Any update on when The Friendly Toast in Kendall Sq will open?

                                                                1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                                                                  My husband and I were at one Kendall yesterday... looks like it shouldn't be long! the front area and bar are almost finished, it seems, and the back is stocked with chairs, tables, glassware, and weird-ass statues. I can't wait!

                                                                  1. re: erinire

                                                                    Do you guys know if it has opened?

                                                                    1. re: air

                                                                      Not yet, seems like very soon though.

                                                                      1. re: Gabatta

                                                                        I heard second-hand that it will be this Wed...

                                                              2. I walked by early this morning (Saturday, ~9am), and the place looked entirely ready. Tables set, "coming soon" sign off the door. Wouldn't surprise me if they're serving this very moment, a thought that makes me very hungry.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: glenn mcdonald

                                                                  I called last night and asked if they'd be open this weekend and they said "not until next week." Didn't have a firm date and suggested I call back again to confirm before I head down.

                                                                  1. re: BJK

                                                                    I just called ((617) 621-1200) and they said they'll be opening tomorrow at 7 am. I can't wait!

                                                                    1. re: umeditor

                                                                      It's open! Just had a breakfast that couldn't be beat!!

                                                                      Was about 1/3 full when we got there around 9 on a rainy Sunday morning, 20-minute wait by the time we left a little after 10.

                                                                      1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                        anyone know what their hours are? are they open for dinner? breakfast for dinner...mmmmm...

                                                                        1. re: KingCarnivore

                                                                          They still have their training wheels on, not the complete menu. I think they're open till 3pm today. A quality greasy breakfast.

                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                2. Haven't been to the original, but enjoyed the scene and food this morning! It's full of kitch (reminding me of Louisville's Lynn's Paradise Café), and the waitstaff said "this is only the beginning; they'll add more as time passes."
                                                                  Had a very nice Anadama bread french toast, while DC had a nicely-finished omelet with entire strips of bacon in it. They're still finishing the basement kitchen, so the signature home fries are *not* available yet; they had "non-signature" homefries with a little heat to them. Staff seemed laid-back and eager to work out the kinks, and interested in good service while asking for a little patience, which we gave.

                                                                  1. Yum. Walked the 1 block from my house this morning, in what I am pleased to suspect is going to be a very quickly familiar ritual. Funny scene with a huge crowd of waiters being trained, and presumably a similar huge crowd of cooks in the kitchen taking turns with the spatulas. "2/3rds" of the full menu, a note claimed, but that's still longer than most other places'. Yummy waffle, yummy eggs, yummy toast. Kendall Square just became a better neighborhood!

                                                                    1. Has anyone familiar with the original been yet? I'm wondering if beloved menu items like Green Eggs and Ham (toasted anadama, country ham, poached eggs and herb mayonnaise) and the Almond Joy Cakes (pancakes with almonds, coconut and chocolate chips) have made the trek south. It would be a bitter disappointment if there was a Friendly Toast so nearby but they didn't have my Green Eggs and Ham.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. Serious Eats posted a "First Look" of it today. It looks as good as the original.
                                                                        http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/05/fr...

                                                                        1. I took a quick look at the place yesterday (didn't eat there, though, as I was on my way to Jimmy's Steer House in Arlington). Definitely a quirky, offbeat looking place.

                                                                          One note: They will not be open 24 hours on the weekends. According to one of the workers there, they will be open until 1:00 AM on weekends, and serving food until 10:00 PM.

                                                                          1. My DC and I dropped in for dinner last night. We went early (6:30) in order to make a 7:30 movie, and it was pretty empty. Maybe four other tables of people.

                                                                            Loved the atmosphere, and everyone was really friendly. We had the spinach dip to start. Chips were nice and hot, and the dip had a really good jalepeno kick. My husband thought it was a little too vinegar-y, but I enjoyed it.

                                                                            We weren't thrilled with our meals, though. He had the chorizo burrito. I tried it and thought it tasted yummy, but it had a strong orange note that after a few bites he found overwhelming. I ordered the Mr. Hegel (sp?) sandwich - grilled cheese with pickles, dijon, and horseradish. The bread anc cheese were wonderful, but I would have liked it more without so much horseradish. I could only eat half because it was sort of overpowering. The fries were good, though. Not the crappy battered/frozen type you find in so many places - they seemed like they may have been hand-cut.

                                                                            I had a North by Northwest cocktail - fruit puree with two types of rum. Very sweet but delish, and went well with the kitschy atmosphere. Would have been perfect if served in a tikki head.

                                                                            We both agreed it's probablly much better for breakfast items, and we'll probably get breakfast next time. We'll definitely be back - anyplace that serves breakfast all day, plays Pixies albums and has old Chuck Taylor Converse ads on the walls needs to stay open.