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The Friendly Toast!

b
bobot May 18, 2009 10:42 AM

So now that it's actually open, I feel like we need a new thread for reviews. I'll kick this one off- even during opening week, even with all of the staff in training, even with only 3/4 of the menu being served, even with a not-up-to-speed-yet kitchen, I can already tell that this is going to be one of my favorites and my go-to brunch spot.

The decor is kitschy but not stupid or tacky. They must've bought every vintage Formica table in New England, and they are gorgeous, but they also (wisely) bought new, comfy chairs. The homefries are, according to our server, not up to the Portsmouth location's standards yet as they are still waiting on some kitchen equipment, but they were delicious and very different (more on that later).

I wasn't expecting there to be a bar, but there is, and it's gorgeous. Looks like they got Anise's liquor license as they have cocktails in addition to beer/wine. Harpoon on tap. Very comfy (yes, a word I'll repeat often about this place) environment.

We started with a plate of Guinness-batter onion rings. I think they used both cornmeal and corn flakes- deliciously crunchy with a nice sweetness. Sauce provided was some sort of creamy caper concoction.

My compatriots got huevos rancheros (served on a huge piece of homemade bread, which I thought was odd but was told was very tasty) and smoked salmon benedict. I got the DGGC (damn good grilled cheese). In writing this I'm realizing how reliant I am on online menus, because I'm having a hard time remembering what was in it! I think there was mayo or some other creamy sauce, in addition to whole grain mustard, American, and cheddar. The best thing about it was the strawberry habanero sauce provided for dipping, which was the perfect complement. Homemade bread, lots of butter.

The homefries deserve their own review. They are not homefries, nor are they hash browns. They're thin (1/8") slices of whole potato, seem to have been par-boiled and then lightly fried with onions and what tasted like a pinch of cayenne. You can imagine that, if fried longer and cut a little thinner, they'd make great chips. As it is, they're really delicious breakfast potatoes but I'm not sure what to call them! There was both a sign and a talk from our server telling us not to be disappointed if they're not exactly like the Portsmouth location's potatoes just yet- the kitchen can't handle it now but they're hoping to be there by this weekend.

All told, I'm totally happy to add this to my usual lunch/brunch rotation and can't wait to see it develop after it's been open a while. A great addition to the neighborhood!

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  1. MC Slim JB May 18, 2009 12:14 PM

    It's certainly great looking -- the bar is covered with Wacky Packages stickers -- and I had a good first breakfast there. I'm not certain, but judging from the drinks menu, I think they might have a beer/wine/cordial license only, not full liquor.

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

    9 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB
      b
      bobot May 18, 2009 01:44 PM

      You may be right- I can't recall seeing hard liquor on the drinks list.

      1. re: bobot
        ponyboy May 18, 2009 04:57 PM

        I seem to recall seeing that the cocktail list was created (or is being created) by a bartender at the Tiki Bar in Portsmouth. Anyway, I hope this is true.

        1. re: ponyboy
          voodoocheese May 21, 2009 08:13 PM

          Has anyone gotten any more information about the drinks they serve? I'd love to know what kind of license they have, so we'll know what to expect!

          1. re: voodoocheese
            g
            Gabatta May 21, 2009 08:25 PM

            They were boxes of liquor on the bar area yesterday. I saw bottles of vodka for sure so I am assuming a full liquor license.

            1. re: Gabatta
              fmcoxe6188 May 27, 2009 07:00 AM

              They definitely have a full license- I saw a complete bar set up, and people drinking mimosas and beers the other day.

              1. re: fmcoxe6188
                CreativeFoodie42 Jun 3, 2009 02:06 PM

                I've heard reports that despite having mimosas on their menu, when a friend of mine ordered one before noon they said they couldn't serve it until after 12 PM. What is the point of offering mimosas if you can't have one in the morning on a weekend?

                1. re: CreativeFoodie42
                  g
                  Gabatta Jun 3, 2009 02:25 PM

                  Because that is the law in MA. No booze before noon on Sundays.

                  1. re: Gabatta
                    r
                    rknrll Jun 3, 2009 09:36 PM

                    You can't buy alcohol at a store before noon, but some restaurants/bars have licenses to serve it at 11am.

                    1. re: Gabatta
                      CreativeFoodie42 Jun 4, 2009 06:14 AM

                      Yes, I have definitely been at restaurants that have alcohol licenses to serve before noon on Sundays.

      2. b
        Blumie May 18, 2009 12:17 PM

        As someone who has not spent a lot of time in Kendall Square since passing out catalogs for Tech Hifi for $3/hour (a sweet deal, given that minimum wage was $1.65 at the time!) 30 years ago, can someone tell me where this is? Is it in that complex on the right as I come over the Longfellow Bridge and merge onto Broadway?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Blumie
          MC Slim JB May 18, 2009 12:22 PM

          That's it: right at the junction of Broadway and Hampshire Streets, with Cardinal Medeiros on one side and the Kendall Square Cinema on Binney St behind it. Also home to the Blue Room, Cambridge Brewing Co., Flat Top Johnnie's, the execrable Tommy Doyle's, and Hungry Mother across the street. Emma's Pizza and Atasca are also nearby.

          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

          1. re: MC Slim JB
            b
            Blumie May 18, 2009 12:35 PM

            Thanks. I was a regular at Rachel's, but am embarrassed to say that I haven't made it to Hungry Mother yet. And I haven't been to the Blue Room since it first opened (what's that, about 20 years ago?). I guess I need to branch out!

        2. Tir_na_nOg May 18, 2009 07:22 PM

          Can't wait to try it! Boston is a breakfast wasteland!!!

          1. poptart May 18, 2009 08:34 PM

            How do their hours compare to the Portsmouth location? Are they open lateish for dinner?
            Can't wait to get there!

            1 Reply
            1. re: poptart
              voodoocheese May 19, 2009 06:25 PM

              I called this morning about this very question. They are open currently until 3pm (I asked about today and saturday) but they plan to be open until 10pm in the future- with breakfast alllll day. YES!

            2. y
              yellowlobster May 20, 2009 10:42 AM

              hey i like the home fries at the one in cambridge better than the ones in portsmouth - i don't really want them to change! they are spicy and go really well with cayenne cheddar toast and a guy scramble.
              went for lunch with 4 coworkers around 1230, waited maybe 10 minutes, got a table, our food, and was back to the office by 130 - great timing! and the food was just as good as it is in portsmouth. it seems like things are really starting to fall into place at the friendly toast!
              now i will be in an unproductive food coma for the rest of the afternoon.

              10 Replies
              1. re: yellowlobster
                kobuta May 20, 2009 08:22 PM

                So are they serving their homefries in Cambridge now? When I stopped by today, they had a paper sign up on their door reading that because their basement kitchen wasn't working yet they had to have some other company help with their homefries (or something to that effect). I ordered something homefries-less just because I wasn't sure what I'd get.

                Got two delicious, huge blueberry pancakes though that I couldn't even finish, and I never leave pancakes unfinished.

                1. re: kobuta
                  y
                  yellowlobster May 21, 2009 06:35 AM

                  they aren't serving the portsmouth homefries yet - but the ones that they are serving until then are really good!

                  1. re: yellowlobster
                    kobuta May 21, 2009 06:39 AM

                    Sorry - for a Friendly Toast newbie, what's the difference? Are they meant to be different, or is the Cambridge version an attempt at duplicating the Portsmouth version?

                    1. re: kobuta
                      MC Slim JB May 21, 2009 06:51 AM

                      Can't speak to the NH version, but the early "replacement" version in Cambridge consists of very thinly-sliced whole potatoes loaded with thin-sliced onions. They have the texture of gently pan-sauteed potatoes, lightly browned, a bit oily, but with no discernible crust as you might get on a griddle. Delicious, though.

                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                        g
                        Gabatta May 21, 2009 07:35 AM

                        The ones we had yesterday were plenty crusty. In the Portsmouth location, they never had an issue with asking for them well done, didn't ask for this in Cambridge yesterday.

                        Eggs for the salmon benedict were quite over poached, but they will get there.

                        1. re: Gabatta
                          b
                          brigittesm May 26, 2009 10:58 AM

                          Three of us had breakfast this Sat (5-23) at 9am. There was no wait. Everything was quite good, and even though I have eaten a couple of times at the original Toast we still haven't figured out how to order only as much food as we can eat. Their portions are HUGE and I hate wasting food. I'm goin' to have to keep going back till I/we get this down. Much of what we have ordered really doesn't reheat well (like the egg -in-a-hole) so it ends up getting wasted.

                          1. re: brigittesm
                            voodoocheese May 26, 2009 02:25 PM

                            Man! I was there a few hours later and there was a 45 minute wait... I couldn't stay because I was relying on a one hour parking meter. argh. I'll come back soon and try again- maybe earlier this time!

                          2. re: Gabatta
                            g
                            Gabatta May 30, 2009 11:01 AM

                            No one was more excited for the opening of the Toast than me, but I am sorry to say that they are not remotely ready for prime time.

                            My wife wanted breakfast for dinner, so we stopped by on Thursday evening. While they were open, the menu was extremely limited with no (0) breakfast items available and a limited selection from the dinner menu. At least they told us before we were seated so we left and went elsewhere. Unfortunately we had parked in the garage and had to wait in a 20 minute line as a movie had just let out.

                            We rode out bikes over there today for another shot. Plenty of bike parking at One Kendall, much preferable to driving to this location. Arriving about 11:45a, we gave our name to the host who turned around, looked at the empty tables probably 30% of the tables were open) and told it us it would be 15 minutes. I explained to my wife that they were probably trying to take it easy on the kitchen as they were still working some kinks out. Exactly 15 minutes later we were seated. We did not know, however, how much cushion the kitchen really needed. We ordered immediately, and our food took over 45 min to come out, which is totally unacceptable even if they are recently opened. During this time, the waitress was no where to be seen to refill coffees, and we were informed that they were out of Coke and Diet Coke (a bit odd). When we saw tables to both sides of us getting "not much longer" type apologies we figured what we were in for. While waiting for our food a busser dropped the bus bucket onto the bench between me and another woman two tables away. The bucket with dirty and stinky dishes sat there for 15 minutes until the other woman asked for it to be moved after taking a picture of the whole scene with her phone because she was amused/disgusted.

                            When the food finally came, my wife's order was sans toast (which as we know is their signature item). It eventually trailed the eggs by about 10 minutes and was the wrong type of toast and not dry as requested. Her scramble was good enough, as were my eggs in a basket. However the waffle we ordered to split was an entirely other story, they are using frozen fruit as was previously noted. However when we got the waffle the fruit was literally frozen solid on top and the waffle cold underneath. When I gently pointed this out we were offered a replacement which we politely declined as we didn't want to wait another hour.

                            The topper came when our bill had bloody marys and mimosas on it which we had not ordered. Strangely the same thing had happened to the table next to us. We felt fortunate that only took us another 15 minutes to get that fixed.

                            I love the Portsmouth Toast, but 2 hours for a sub par experience at the Cambridge location won't remotely cut it. I am going to try and give it a rest for a bit until I hear consistently better things. Bottom line is they opened with what appears to be vitrually no training, the kitchen is way slow and inconsistent, and the servers (while being friendly) are not seasoned enough to handle the situation and instead are running around harried. Lots and lots of work to do to get this place humming.

                            Too bad...

                            1. re: Gabatta
                              g
                              glenn mcdonald May 30, 2009 11:51 AM

                              I feel obliged to note for perspective that I've been there four times since it opened, and had no bad experiences at all. No waits, no delays, no issues. Three weekend breakfasts (8, 9 & 10), one weekday lunch (11:45). A couple times I've had waiters have to go back in the kitchen to ask questions, but that's the most disorganization I've seen.

                              1. re: Gabatta
                                d
                                dulce de leche May 30, 2009 04:35 PM

                                Wow, that sounds awful.

                                We had a completely different experience there for dinner last night. We were a party of six, and each of us had some weird substitution or request, and the server accomodated every single one and they all came out together and all as ordered She was stellar. She also had good recommendations, and was totally familiar with the menu.

                                It did take longer than customary to get everything out. I won't go into specifics about the food, but it was all good.

                  2. d
                    djd May 31, 2009 06:49 PM

                    I'm perplexed by the range of experiences in such a short time. Does it vary by shift? Time of day? Astrological chart?

                    1. jgg13 May 31, 2009 10:04 PM

                      Went today. If it wasn't for the fact that they recently opened, I'd never come back. Waited quite a while for a table. Our food took about 30 minutes to come out, and when it did it was sans home fries, we were told it'd be on it's way. Well, I don't know about you but I personally don't want to eat my breakfast and then have a side of home fries put in front of me, so I waited. And waited. And waited. About 10 mins later I asked about the home fries and she went and brought them right out ... but they were clearly not really ready yet, while the potatoes were cooked through they were nothing but plain cooked potatoes, none of the fried-ness, none of the onions, etc. No one else's potatoes looked anything like ours. Why the hell even send our plates out if you don't have the home fries? Why does it take 30 minutes to make a couple of simple egg dishes? They weren't even particularly busy at the time.

                      While friendly, in general it seemed like the staff had a real whatever kind of attitude, none of them seemed to care about anything that might be going wrong around them. I heard the "we just opened" excuse being given to a few folks, to me that seems somewhat unprofessional particularly when talking about things that really shouldn't be that screwed up.

                      The *only* saving grace was that the afore mentioned simple egg dishes actually were pretty tasty, I just hadn't planned on making an afternoon out of getting freaking breakfast.

                      1. s
                        sourcandy Jun 1, 2009 05:13 AM

                        We had a really nice breakfast there last weekend, with a couple of buts. Like it was nice but they were out of 3 of their 6 kinds of bread. Or it was nice BUT our waiter seemed pretty incompetent. Or it was nice BUT they forgot the corn salsa on my girlfriend's scramble.

                        The wait for a table was only about 20 minutes on a Sunday. And we got a decent table too, unlike at Zaftig's where we always have to tell them we don't want to sit by the door.

                        The food was great despite the limited menu. They were 86 on a lot of items and I'm not sure why they wouldn't prepare to be busy on a Sunday morning. The biggest problem was the staff were inadequately trained. This was almost certainly because the Toast is not a big corporate restaurant and the owners probably don't know how to open up a new branch. Hopefully the chaff will separate itself from the wheat and we'll have a decent restaurant on our hands.

                        Despite everything my girlfriend was still happy we'd made the trek to Kendall and so was I.

                        1. fecalface Jun 1, 2009 05:50 AM

                          Just to offer a counterpoint, Fecalface went to the FT yesterday morning and had an excellent experience, practically identical to the original.

                          Fecal went early, around 10am. No wait, excellent table. Waiter was on fecal within minutes, drinks received 2 mins later, food took about 20 mins after ordering. The food quality was excellent - fecal enjoyed two exceptionally large pieces of french toast and an egg dish with the (properly prepared) aforementioned homefries.

                          Fecal will happily go again, but fec is thinking the issue is about time of day. Of course, when mercury is in retrograde motion, fecal shall be dining at Sound Bytes instead.

                          1. soxchik Jun 1, 2009 06:07 AM

                            I've been for breakfast twice since opening, Memorial Day Monday and again this past Saturday. I think we went around 10:30am both times. The food was great, the service was friendly but slightly absent (though everyone seemed to be working hard), and the kitchen was slow. We waited almost an hour for our food this past weekend (amazing blueberry pancakes, veggie bacon, and a guy scramble), but thankfully we weren't in a hurry and drinks were refilled. Due to the slowness the server gave us a discount which made up for the wait as far as I was concerned. It seems to me they are definitely working out the kinks, but I'm letting that slide since they've only been open a couple weeks. If this still happens a couple months from now I'd be more concerned.

                            1. b
                              bobot Jun 1, 2009 09:00 AM

                              Stopped in again for brunch on Sunday. I gave them a pass on service when I went on the 18th because they had just opened, but I saw NO improvement. Servers were still terrible at "multi-tasking"- we watched our server walk to the drink station, get one cup of coffee, take it to a table, walk all the way back to the drink station, get one more cup of coffee, take it to the other diner at the same table, walk all the way back, etc. etc. That's a simple training issue. I brought it up to the manager and he said he's doing the best he's can with what he has, but he is aware that it is a severe problem and is doing his best to fix it.

                              The food is still awesome, though, so I'll keep coming. It hasn't even been a month yet and they've been pretty slammed since day 1.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bobot
                                nfo Jun 1, 2009 02:56 PM

                                I haven't been there yet, but I just wanted to say... that's pretty generous use of the term "multi-tasking".

                              2. t
                                taves7 Jun 1, 2009 10:29 AM

                                I stopped by the FT on Friday night with two of my friends after our movie got out. We didn't have a wait and were seated right away. My friends ordered the Guy Scramble and I ordered the Huevos Rancheros. We were all happy and we all liked the home fries, which were spicy! One of the girls ordered a milkshake, orange and vanilla, and it was really good. I definitely would go back. My only nitpicks are that they didn't give us our toast dry as we ordered and it took a while to pay the check. Our waiter had to correct the check, as he only charged us for 2 entrees and we ordered 3.

                                1. kobuta Jun 1, 2009 10:56 AM

                                  Stopped by for round 2 of takeout today, and have no complaints . Ordered their french toast with side of home fries. Like the first time, there was a 15 minute wait - not too bad. They've at least got their full menu up now, rather than the few sheets stapled together of the partial menu they were serving 2 weeks ago. While not completely seamless ( the server was still learning the abbreviations to put on the ticket), there wasn't any particularly frustrating or awkward moments.

                                  Food was good, and once again, way more than anticipated. I suppose I'll learn on the 3rd try. I'd like to dine in one of these days, but the crowd was even more busy today, which means it's not going to happen soon.

                                  1. m
                                    MissCheese Jun 1, 2009 11:40 AM

                                    I went yesterday during Sunday brunch 'prime time' and it was def. a long wait... but that was to be expected. We were seated after about 1 1/2 hours. We were told it would be 45 mins but that was just a tease. When the food finally came (Green Eggs and Ham, and Guy Scramble), it was delicious. But people should be aware that if you go during traditionally busy times you will wait and wait before you get to eat those delicious home fries. (And, the irony of course is that the toast never made it to the table. The waitress said it would be coming but it never did.) Ah well. They've only been open for 2 weeks and were so busy so gotta cut them some slack.

                                    1. RoseWethersfield Jun 6, 2009 03:14 PM

                                      Underwhelmed. A friend and I went for a much anticipated lunch--Friday 1pm.. We waited 45 minutes for variations on the grilled cheese. It was Friday at around 1pm. (I almost forgot to mention the spray bottle of cleaning product and used cream container thingys that were on our table...). Contrived cool isn't worth the wait.

                                      When is hungry mother gonna open for lunch?

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: RoseWethersfield
                                        hotoynoodle Jun 7, 2009 01:28 PM

                                        a 45 or 90 minute wait? you guys are nuts. i don't care how good the food is or how cool the wacky pack stickers are. if ticket times and service are so slow, how will they ever turn tables for lunch and make any money? ya know, like to pay the rent and keep decent staff?

                                        i usually wait 4-6 weeks before trying a new place. this place has just fallen way down the calendar.

                                        1. re: hotoynoodle
                                          RoseWethersfield Jun 9, 2009 09:30 AM

                                          45 minute wait. Yep.

                                      2. Tir_na_nOg Jun 7, 2009 01:15 PM

                                        Mostly empty today at 9AM Sunday, but a fair line by 10AM. Obviously the decor was fascinating (the Wacky Packages stickers embedded in the lucite bar top brought back childhood memories of the '70s).

                                        We had Eggs Benedict with ham (also offered with salmon), and some sort of scrambled eggs on fresh corn chips (didn't seem homemade) with corn salsa and inch-thick toast. The scramble was good, but a bit dry for my taste. Home fries were also good but nothing special. I gather we are still waiting for the authentic Portsmouth version to show up. OJ didn't seem fresh squeezed. Menu is still not the full version. Service was spotless, with a nice dose of diner personality.

                                        On the whole, a good, not great breakfast (which, in a breakfast wasteland like Boston, makes it a destination!). But will head back soon to try the bar and burgers.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                          t
                                          twentyoystahs Jun 7, 2009 07:14 PM

                                          We were there at the same time today, around 9:30. I thought it was just ok. Our waitress was very nice, but service wasn't great. We sat for about 10 minutes before being greeted (and as above poster noted, it wasn't even all that busy yet); then after ordering waited probably 1/2 hr or more for eggs in a hole (2 sunny side eggs in toast) and 1 piece of french toast. DC ordered yogurt and granola only, which came after about 15 minutes. It was pretty good, granola was chewy (vs crunchy) but flavorful. But then she hung around waiting for my food to come, and then hung around waiting while I ate my food! There was a table of 4 seated a few minutes after us who ordered after us, yet their food arrived about 10 minutes before ours.
                                          The 'eggs in a hole' toast was good; eggs cooked perfectly; really think white toast. Hash browns eh. French toast alright, not all that memorable. I did get it with the special bread (the name escapes me now, with molasses i think?) but didn't think it was all that amazing.
                                          Ordered ice coffee, again, eh. Wished I'd picked one up before-hand at the dunk.

                                          So all in all, I liked the vibe of the place, thought some of the food was pretty good, but wasn't all that impressed and would definitely hold off on visiting till they work out the kinks. Another couple of months maybe? They certainly aren't hurting for business so hopefully they'll find the time to figure out some of the issues. I do think that if you go at an off-peak, non-busy time and you're still having service issues, than there are some serious problems that probably need to be addressed.

                                          1. re: twentyoystahs
                                            d
                                            DoubleMan Jun 8, 2009 05:47 AM

                                            We had poor service on Sunday, too. Almost identical to yours. We also had to wait a strangely odd amount of time to be greeted and did not receive food until tables seated well after us received theirs. (There was no complicated items in our order for that to make sense).

                                            Overall, I don't think it was the usual new-opening jitters. Our waitress was completely indifferent and not at all friendly. I understand wanting to hire "cool kids" to work there, but they can at least be nice (or competent).

                                            The homefries definitely need a few more minutes on a hot griddle to get some crispy edges.

                                            1. re: DoubleMan
                                              t
                                              twentyoystahs Jun 8, 2009 06:00 AM

                                              Agree on the homefries; nothing special but with a bit of spice (hot) that I didn't particularly like.
                                              I wouldn't be surprised if there were some other folks there yesterday who thought their service was good; it seems very inconsistent and spotty. Like, just depends on your server/your section/the time you get there/how the moon is aligned. ;)
                                              It's not in my 'hood --we biked there yesterday and so it was a fun little outing, but I wouldn't go out of my way to head back there again --not for a while anyway.

                                              1. re: twentyoystahs
                                                Tir_na_nOg Jun 8, 2009 05:43 PM

                                                We had the older waitress, not one of the young ones. That probably made a difference. We were talking and she kept asking if we wanted to order yet!

                                                1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                                  kobuta Jun 8, 2009 08:08 PM

                                                  Of the times I've been there, there have been occasional blips in service, but nothing outrageous. I will say though that an older waitress came off as quite crabby when my friend asked her if we could get change. Thankfully she wasn't our server, because she would've been a major damper on an otherwise good dine-in meal there.

                                                  1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                                    fmcoxe6188 Jun 9, 2009 07:35 AM

                                                    I had her too! She did the same thing to us-I sorta loved it- diner charm for sure

                                              2. re: twentyoystahs
                                                Prav Jun 8, 2009 06:56 AM

                                                Wow, I can't believe how much overhype there is with this place!

                                                1. re: twentyoystahs
                                                  enhF94 Jun 8, 2009 06:08 PM

                                                  the special bread with molasses is called Anadama, and it is a bit of a New England tradition, apparently.
                                                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anadama_...

                                              3. s
                                                SunGlow Jun 8, 2009 07:41 AM

                                                Thought I'd chime in here. A friend and I went on a weekday.

                                                The Pros
                                                The hot chocolate was completely amazing. It came with a thick cup of homemade, delicious whipped cream on the side. Yum, yum.
                                                Our service was fine - a little frazzled, maybe, but mostly prompt and friendly.

                                                The Cons
                                                We both got the Damned Good Grilled Cheese and (this could very well be personal taste) but we both found it far too spicy as a whole. The Strawberry haberno jam was mouth tingling, the home fries were peppery, the sandwich itself had a bit of a kick. I left most of mine since I just couldn't enjoy the dish with all that spice.

                                                I'm willing to give it another go, if just for the hot chocolate.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: SunGlow
                                                  t
                                                  twentyoystahs Jun 9, 2009 08:56 AM

                                                  Yeah, those home fries ARE peppery. A bit too much, IMO.
                                                  It's a fun place, hopefully they're working on the service issues. I don't think it's just front-of-house issues, my guess is the kitchen is a bit slammed as well and is trying to get into their own groove. May take a while.....

                                                  1. re: twentyoystahs
                                                    jgg13 Jun 9, 2009 10:13 AM

                                                    When I had them they were plain potatoes. No seasoning at all.

                                                    "my guess is the kitchen is a bit slammed as well and is trying to get into their own groove"

                                                    They've had what, a month now? Come on, it's getting ridiculous. They're really riding the "sorry, we just opened" thing way too long.

                                                2. litchick Jun 8, 2009 06:30 PM

                                                  Thought I'd throw up a link to the address for those who might be interested.

                                                  -----
                                                  The Friendly Toast
                                                  1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

                                                  1. t
                                                    Taralli Jun 9, 2009 09:15 AM

                                                    Can anyone rate their hollandaise - says "homemade" on menu, but is it & is it really lemony good?

                                                    1. b
                                                      Blumie Jun 10, 2009 09:49 AM

                                                      A couple of thoughts/questions:

                                                      I think people are expecting way too much, way too soon from this restaurant. Perhaps the place is a victim of its own self-created hype, but certainly the hype generated by the throngs of fans of its Portsmouth location have only exacerbated the pressure on this place. We need to give it time to find its groove, and I don't think it unreasonable for that to take longer than the month this place has been open. Perhaps it never will happen and the Boston location will fail. And none of us should have to put up with bad food or bad service from any restaurant, even if it has only just opened, but in my mind that suggests staying away for the time being, not going only to have a bad experience.

                                                      All of that having been said, when I read their menu, it strikes me as somewhat similar to Norma's, at Le Parker Merdien hotel in NYC; that is, big, sweet, over-the-top breakfasts. That's not meant as a criticism -- Norma's, after all, is fun and the food is delicious, if that's the kinda place you're looking for -- but it strikes me as not approrpriate for someone looking for a more straightforward breakfast. Am I correct about that?

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: Blumie
                                                        BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 10, 2009 10:18 AM

                                                        Not really, especially about the sweet part. They do sweet breakfasts -- the pancakes and waffles are very good -- but I think most fans are fans of the savory breakfasts: the omelets and scrambles and other egg dishes. (The green eggs and ham -- poached eggs and country ham on anadama toast, topped with a homemade dill mayonnaise -- is my personal fave.) And it's perfectly easy to order your basic two eggs over easy with bacon, home fries and toast.

                                                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                          t
                                                          twentyoystahs Jun 10, 2009 10:22 AM

                                                          Yeah, i agree. They've got the standard french toast and waffles and pancakes but they had lots of egg options too. Everything from standard scrambled eggs and toast to omelets to "eggs in a hole" to eggs benedict, etc. I thought the food was pretty good; it was the overall "experience" i wasn't that crazy about.

                                                          1. re: twentyoystahs
                                                            fmcoxe6188 Jun 10, 2009 11:22 AM

                                                            I have to third here- even on the abbreviated menu I found it much easier to order "savory" breakfast items rather than the sweet. Though I do think that their sweet appear to be over the top sweet- The pumpkin pancakes sound right up my ally- but then they are all goop-ified with whipped cream. I am sure that you can ask for it without the whipped cream but as is all of the "sweet" dishes seem 100% more like desserts to me than breakfast.
                                                            However, I also agree with the idea of giving them more time to get into their groove. If I am remembering correctly they opened May 18-not quite a month ago yet. They opened in a rush, without staff hired, so I think that it is going to take some time for them to get into the same stride as NH.

                                                            Just my thoughts- as someone pulling for them to succeed since Ive never been a fan of most of the other breakfast/brunch spots in town

                                                        2. re: Blumie
                                                          j
                                                          Jardinia Jun 10, 2009 01:53 PM

                                                          Went a couple weeks ago on a saturday eve for drinks and apps. It's a good thing that this is all we were after, because they were apparently out of everything else! What we did have was good. It was pretty dead in there so we struck up a conversation with our waitress, who said that only a couple of staff came down from Portsmouth, the rest are all new. She also mentioned that the new staff were all left hanging during the period when the opening was delayed, and then one thursday they got a call saying "be here tomorrow at 6 am" for basically one day of training and then launched into operation that saturday. Which sounds insane to me, esp with a lot of really green staff. She also said that they are still trying to get the supply chain issues worked out, since the breads and much else comes down from Portsmouth. Interesting details, but hope they work out their kinks soon. This is not a model to follow.

                                                          1. re: Jardinia
                                                            Bob Dobalina Jun 11, 2009 07:49 AM

                                                            But consistent with their decorating sense...

                                                            1. re: Jardinia
                                                              Tir_na_nOg Jun 11, 2009 07:21 PM

                                                              I'm not in the business, but it does sound like they should have their act more together after a month. Apparently running one restaurant does not make you an expert at opening another. They should have put more effort into training than buying crap on E-bay. I guess I'm going to have to make the trek to the original to see what all the hype is about!

                                                              I really hope they succeed, but they picked a terrible location. That site is jinxed. If they don't live up to their hype...

                                                          2. MC Slim JB Jun 11, 2009 09:02 PM

                                                            I've been a few times now, and think it's very promising. They do seem to be slow-rolling the shakedown cruise, often running out or being out of things, but I've been very pleased with the quality of the food.

                                                            It helps to understand that they're doing outsized versions of slightly creative diner fare, and set your expectations accordingly. This isn't fine dining: it's eggs Benny with really good ham and a bright-green herb sauce instead of Hollandaise. Damned tasty if you're not expecting Tony Maws' cooking.

                                                            It's got a few other things going for it: a very earnest staff, a full bar that does competent cocktails (like a respectable Manhattan, large and well done), funny decor (think kitschy casual-dining chain clutter with a smart, retro-hipster sensibility), and late-ish hours on weekends. It strikes me as the best formula yet to make a problematic space and location work. I think they'll do just fine, but the overheated pre-opening hype is not helping. Go thinking in Deluxe Town Diner terms, and I suspect you'll enjoy it.

                                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                              BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 11, 2009 09:20 PM

                                                              Well stated. It also helps to remember, as I and several others said on the original pre-opening post, that this is the sort of restaurant where either you're on its wavelength or you're not. And it's no reflection on you if you aren't, it's just that there is a very distinct sensibility to the Friendly Toast, and it's one that bugs the crap out of a lot of people. And that's cool. Not every restaurant is for every diner.

                                                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                b
                                                                bobot Jun 12, 2009 05:02 AM

                                                                Exactly. I love the place and I hope they get the service together soon- it's about time SOMETHING did well in that space.

                                                                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                  d
                                                                  djd Jun 12, 2009 06:59 AM

                                                                  I don't know—I still haven't gone, being super budget-conscious these days, but a number of my friends who are into That Kind of Thing have gone and hated it. (Of course, a number have liked it as well. Still seems like unusually vehement split reactions.)

                                                              2. e
                                                                ethel76 Jun 21, 2009 07:22 AM

                                                                We went Sat. morning, June 20th. Again, the food is good and different, but the service and management is missing something. The website stated they were open at 8, but when we arrived at 8:10, the staff was sitting outside in the courtyard and the door was locked. After about 10 min. , the door opened and the staff went in, but no luck for the customers. 10 min. after that, someone came out and opened the door for a couple to come in; they went in and by the time we picked up our paper and walked to the door, it was locked again. One of the staff members who was also locked out said "they don't normally open on Saturdays, so they don't know where the key is". After we got in, the food was fine, the service was average, but it just seemed as though no one knew what they were doing. The was a huge amount of staff standing around, but the coffee wasn't brewed, there were still stations to be set up and the floor was littered with last night's lemon wedges and straws.
                                                                There's something about the Portsmouth location that just seems cool and relaxed. This one feels like going to the France exhibit at Epcot center to see the Eiffel Tower.

                                                                13 Replies
                                                                1. re: ethel76
                                                                  hotoynoodle Jun 22, 2009 06:12 AM

                                                                  except epcot is scrupulously clean, the place runs like a clock and the service is excellent.

                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                    d
                                                                    David_A Jun 22, 2009 10:43 AM

                                                                    We went Saturday at brunch prime time (11:30 am). I was with a party of four and it took an hour to be seated. We were very hungry and went to the bar to order toast. The bartender offered us free cups of fruit to hold us over. Very cool we thought. After the hour long wait, we were sat in the back area (on the way we saw numerous empty tables?). The back was like a freezer so we asked to be moved and they moved us to the main room. The waitress came by and said she would be with us in a minute. Fifteen minutes later she returned to take our order. We decided to order everything at once since this seemed like it might be our one shot to see a server. We order mimosa's and coffee, a guy scramble, an the kates tofu omelet. The server brought out our drinks and forgot one mimosa. She quickly ordered us another one. She also brought us an extra coffee which she took back when we told her we only ordered two. After that everything went smoothly. The mimosa's were cold and brought in a pint glass. It was an ok drink. Nothing special. The toast was delicious. The potatoes were crispy and delicious and the scrambles were amazing. The Guy scramble had avocado, salsa and cheese. The Kates dish had cilantro, corn, feta, mushrooms. We were very happy with the food. We just hope they get the service down soon. It would be a shame if they can't get it in gear. Next time we might sit at the bar and be served by the wonderful bartender.

                                                                    1. re: David_A
                                                                      yumyum Jun 23, 2009 07:01 AM

                                                                      This is the running theme at Friendly Toast -- an eternity to eat, somewhat sloppy service, okay to good to very good food, all culminating in an enthusiastic "I'll be back!" I really don't get it. There are other places for breakfast.

                                                                      1. re: yumyum
                                                                        fmcoxe6188 Jun 23, 2009 07:13 AM

                                                                        Yum yum-where are your favorites?? It always appears that breakfast/brunch in Boston is more of an after thought to dinner menus. I know there's the exception of Mike and Pattys...but where else are you going for breakfast?

                                                                        1. re: fmcoxe6188
                                                                          yumyum Jun 23, 2009 07:32 AM

                                                                          I love Soundbites in Somerville. I like Henrietta's Kitchen in Cambridge, and I used to like the brunch at Blue Room in Kendall (haven't been in a while). I like the egg sandwiches at Magnificent Muffin and True Grounds Cafe. I like Uncommon Grounds in Watertown. My breakfast of choice in Boston proper is dim sum, but that's cuz I'm a savory girl, not sweet.

                                                                          I don't go out for breakfast a lot, because I like to make it at home, but I don't see why folks are sooooo excited about the FT when the reviews are so mixed.

                                                                          1. re: yumyum
                                                                            fmcoxe6188 Jun 23, 2009 07:39 AM

                                                                            thank you! Im with you- I dont do breakfast out a lot either- I just keep finding that when I do go Im consistently disappointed, either because the menus are limited, or they just arent well executed. Thanks for the list! Ive been meaning to check out Soundbites and Henriettas :-)

                                                                            1. re: fmcoxe6188
                                                                              yumyum Jun 23, 2009 07:41 AM

                                                                              Soundbites is really excellent. I try to go on a weekday, but weekends are tolerable if you can get there early.

                                                                              Henrietta's is upscale, pricey, but very good quality.

                                                                            2. re: yumyum
                                                                              jgg13 Jun 23, 2009 07:53 AM

                                                                              To be honest, it's seemed like it's the type of place that people want to like so much, that they keep driving the hype. In this case, it'd be due to all the raves from the Portsmouth location. I've noticed on Yelp for instance that a lot of the glowing reviews are people chastising others for not giving them enough time and just look at how awesome portsmouth is!!!! type of thing.

                                                                              Another recent example would be the Roadhouse, where there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Publick House sycophants that there could possibly be any negative commentary on one of their treasured new spots.

                                                                              1. re: jgg13
                                                                                fmcoxe6188 Jun 23, 2009 07:56 AM

                                                                                Thats a good call. Disappointment is sometimes harder to swallow than an over cooked poached egg.

                                                                                Funny-Im rarely on Yelp- and just remember that the consensus on this board was that Roadhouse was pretty bad at the start.

                                                                                1. re: fmcoxe6188
                                                                                  jgg13 Jun 23, 2009 08:28 AM

                                                                                  There was a big hullaballoo over there w/ Roadhouse in particular. The owner started an "I hate yelp" facebook group, there were people who were obviously employees of the place showing up on talk berating everyone for daring to give bad reviews (one guy in particular was arguing that it was uncool to give a bad review because it could affect the employees' livelihood), etc.

                                                                                  It isn't that bad w/ the FT, I've just noticed a general trend on the reviews. Most (but not all) fall into either 1-3 stars w/ "well the food was okay/good/great, but ......" or 4-5 stars and "okay the service, speed, etc was terrible, but i know they're going to be great!!!!"

                                                                          2. re: yumyum
                                                                            b
                                                                            bobot Jun 23, 2009 08:33 AM

                                                                            I assume the "I'll be back!" are people like me who work in Kendall Square and are just excited to have somewhere new to go to lunch. My rotation was getting stale!

                                                                            1. re: bobot
                                                                              kobuta Jun 24, 2009 10:29 AM

                                                                              I fall in that boat, though I admit I have not experienced the kind of terrible service shared on this board. I've mostly done takeout, but the time I dined in, the service was fine and we had no wait. Coworkers have also been there for lunch many times, and no reported problems. Based on what seems to be the experience and "pace" of the staff when I did dine there, I'm not surprised it would happen. Place definitely needs more organization.

                                                                              I think it's also timing - a lot of the terrible experiences seem to coincide with popular weekend brunch/breakfast times. Maybe it's just a different crowd during weekday lunches.

                                                                            2. re: yumyum
                                                                              voodoocheese Jun 27, 2009 01:26 PM

                                                                              I'm with you here- we have our differences (soundbites vs BSC), but they are both better than my experience at FT. 20 min wait, not a big deal; ordered pretty quickly, friendly service... 15-20 min wait for mediocre food. Not really worth a return trip for me.
                                                                              Also, I just want to mention that I hated the potatoes (undercooked and not flavorful, everyone was looking for tabasco)- and the coffee was AWFUL. Oh, and one more thing, having to interrupt the cashier's lunch to pay my check is incredibly unprofessional.

                                                                      2. t
                                                                        terrystu Jun 23, 2009 08:08 AM

                                                                        There seems to be a popular misconception here that this is "another location" of the FT. To set the record straight, this place was opened by a former FT employee and operates independently of the FT. The owner of the Portsmouth FT is helping as an advisor and consultant, but has no decision-making authority.
                                                                        As a regular at the Portsmouth FT, I feel that its success is largely due to her fanatical emphasis on quality ingredients, along with obvious cooking skills and menu creativity.
                                                                        I have never visited the Cambridge FT, so I wouldn't make a judgement, except to say that it isn't really fair to try and compare the two restaurants as though they were simply multiple locations.

                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                        1. re: terrystu
                                                                          jgg13 Jun 23, 2009 08:23 AM

                                                                          To play devil's advocate, when i was there the bartender (we ate at the bar) made a few references to "our other location". I don't at all disbelieve you, but they might want to work on getting that point across to their own staff.

                                                                          1. re: terrystu
                                                                            hotoynoodle Jun 23, 2009 08:34 AM

                                                                            "PORTSMOUTH — While other businesses tighten belts, the Friendly Toast is expanding — apparently the menu's "big food" brag has paid off. Owner Melissa Jasper will open a second location in Cambridge, Mass."

                                                                            this is a direct paste from this february article on seacoastonline.com.

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

                                                                            other articles on boston.com, et al have called this a second location (not an off-shoot, or spin-off) and all call jasper the owner of both spots.

                                                                            also my understanding is that staff from both back and front of house came to kendall from portsmouth to do staff training and work.

                                                                            sounds pretty connected to me.

                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                              t
                                                                              terrystu Jun 23, 2009 10:14 AM

                                                                              In a recent conversation I had with Melissa, she told me she hed "no financial interest" in the new restaurant, other than ownership of the name. She also said that she was helping out as much as possible doing staff training etc.
                                                                              This is not an unusual arrangement in the restaurant business, as a way to leverage the name and reputation without actually running another location. I am not surprised at all that media outlets would not spell out all the details. since they often give innaccurate impressions for the sake of brevity.
                                                                              BTW, Melissa is spending virtually all of her time in Portsmouth, which would seem to be the most important indicator.

                                                                              1. re: terrystu
                                                                                LindaWhit Jun 23, 2009 10:26 AM

                                                                                OK, so if this IS the case, but has not been disseminated to the public properly (whether by TFT on their website, or by the press), and if the Cambridge location doesn't do well on service; runs out of food, etc., wouldn't that then reflect poorly on Melissa? She might not have any financial interest in the Cambridge location, but the perception that that location sucks might potentially boomerang back to her Portsmouth location, right?

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                  BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 23, 2009 12:47 PM

                                                                                  So? How many of her Portsmouth regulars give a crap if the Cambridge location lives or dies? That would be like assuming I care what happens at a restaurant in Providence that I've never been to, just because it has a connection to a restaurant I like here.

                                                                                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                    LindaWhit Jun 23, 2009 12:56 PM

                                                                                    Well, there are some that might think if she doesn't care about the Cambridge location, why drive to the Portsmouth location? The "connection" in this case is the implication that she owns and ultimately runs the Cambridge location.

                                                                                    Do they need outside-of-Portsmouth business? Perhaps not. But with the ability to post about the one location, there are those people that might assume Portsmouth is just as bad - and not go.

                                                                                    It's her reputation by letting them use the name - but if she's too cool for something like that and doesn't care, so be it.

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                      BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 23, 2009 02:33 PM

                                                                                      The Portsmouth location does hand-over-fist business despite a large and vocal contingent of online detractors, and has done so for years. (I've long noticed that many people don't just dislike the Friendly Toast, they loathe every single thing about it.) If the locals who are happy with the Portsmouth location stay happy with the Portsmouth location, I'm thinking it doesn't matter to them if the Cambridge location lives or dies.

                                                                                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                        jgg13 Jun 23, 2009 03:35 PM

                                                                                        There was a point made on one of the other boards (regarding special service for regulars/lesser service for new folks) that if a local joint has a line out the door constantly with regular customers that they probably don't give a rat's behind what the put off newcomer thinks.

                                                                                2. re: terrystu
                                                                                  hotoynoodle Jun 24, 2009 07:01 AM

                                                                                  if she is spending most of her time in portsmouth, she can't be helping out all that much with training.

                                                                                  lending out the name and the brand and giving up staff with no personal financial interest? i don't buy it.

                                                                                  1. re: terrystu
                                                                                    h
                                                                                    hatchjasp Jun 29, 2009 08:32 PM

                                                                                    hey terrystu. Robert Jasper here. Melissa and I own and operate both restaurants. You're right about some papers missing crucial details to be brief. See message below about our ridiculous schedules if you want.

                                                                              2. MC Slim JB Jun 24, 2009 08:53 AM

                                                                                Killing the "Cambridge FT is not a second location of Portsmouth, NH" rumor: http://blogs.menupages.com/boston/200...

                                                                                12 Replies
                                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                  mtm7654 Jun 24, 2009 09:12 AM

                                                                                  Phew! I can sleep tonight!

                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                    b
                                                                                    Blumie Jun 24, 2009 09:24 AM

                                                                                    Does that make the food or service any better?

                                                                                    1. re: Blumie
                                                                                      MC Slim JB Jun 27, 2009 01:44 PM

                                                                                      Nope, just clearing up some misinformation. I have to say I thought it unlikely that an owner would allow another restaurant to use their name with no interest in or control over the place. There's little good that could come of that, and a lot of bad. You would have to be very naive about brand management to let that happen.

                                                                                      My Cambridge experiences to date have been better than the average posted here. I'm liking the place so far.

                                                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                        b
                                                                                        Blumie Jun 28, 2009 12:34 PM

                                                                                        Sorry if my post came across as snide. I only was raising the question of whether the ownership really matters. Either the place is chow-worthy or its not, irrespective of who owns it!

                                                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                      LindaWhit Jun 24, 2009 09:26 AM

                                                                                      So the owner, Melissa, tells a 'Hound that she has no financial interest, but the general manager, Michael, says it *is* a second location - implying that she does have a financial interest. So the lack of attention to the Cambridge location could still reflect poorly on her.

                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                        jgg13 Jun 24, 2009 09:56 AM

                                                                                        The general confusion just seems to mirror everything else over there.

                                                                                        1. re: jgg13
                                                                                          hotoynoodle Jun 24, 2009 10:04 AM

                                                                                          until the post by terrystu, i didn't think there was any confusion regarding ownership. furthermore, if the place is regularly running waits that exceed 45 minutes, it's busy in spite of chowhound griping.

                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                            jgg13 Jun 24, 2009 10:34 AM

                                                                                            This isn't like the adage I stated above, the long standing local joint who has lines out the door despite poor service, etc. There's been a huge rush to this place due to hype - I know I've personally dissuaded several friends (who would have likely gone with their other friends, so even more people total) from going ... they all really wanted to check it out due to the hype, but my experience led them all to say "well, maybe in 5-6 months". If enough people present that kind of experience, it might come back to haunt them - which would be too bad, as the food itself was pretty tasty (except for the F'd up hash browns they brought me)

                                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                              c
                                                                                              Canadian Tuxedo Jun 27, 2009 02:28 PM

                                                                                              No amount of "chowhound" praise or griping will make or break a place. The posters and even lurkers of this board represent too small of a set of the eating out population in and around Boston.

                                                                                              1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                                                hotoynoodle Jun 28, 2009 06:14 AM

                                                                                                i'm not naive enough to think these boards will make or break a place.

                                                                                        2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                          g
                                                                                          Gabatta Jun 24, 2009 09:39 AM

                                                                                          Any way you slice it, the FT Cambridge has a LOT of work to do...

                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                            Tir_na_nOg Jun 27, 2009 05:04 PM

                                                                                            Was having dinner with a friend who actually works in One Kendall Square (at The Blue Room--such a great place!) and they couldn't stop talking about how bad TFT is. Unfortunately, I passed on "the rumor," so it will be all over the neighborhood now (although the question the blogger asked--"second location" vs. ownership--doesn't really definitively answer the question)! If you can't convince your neighbors to eat there more than once...

                                                                                            However, apparently the bad service is having a positive benefit on neighboring businesses. BeanTowne Coffee House is now open on the weekends to take advantage of the hoards of dissatisfied customers experiencing hour-long waits. Now that's good business sense! ;-)

                                                                                          2. j
                                                                                            Jana Jun 24, 2009 10:08 AM

                                                                                            Went on Father's Day to the Cambridge location. We were the first ones there. No issue with food, timing or service but could be because it was early and quiet. Only weird thing was that the hostess told us when we were seated that we would have to wait for coffee to brew (shouldn't you have that ready when you open?). However, when the waitress came by she got us our coffee right away. Miscommunication...

                                                                                            1. h
                                                                                              hicow Jun 28, 2009 01:41 PM

                                                                                              Last week my wife and I went to the Portsmouth FT for breakfast. The wait staff was very attentive, frequently offering coffee refills. It took about 30 minutes for our food to arrive in spite of the restaurant only being half full. My wife had an omelet that was overcooked to the point of being hard to eat. I had corn bread with jalapenos with my eggs, expecting bread made with cornmeal. It was regular bread with a couple of kernels of whole corn and a couple of specks of jalapeno. It was fairly tasteless. The food was very underwhelming. We were anxious to see what the hype was all about but probably won't go out of our way to return. I think most run-of-the-mill breakfast places are the equal or better than this place.

                                                                                              1. n
                                                                                                newyorker1 Jun 28, 2009 02:33 PM

                                                                                                A friend and I had breakfast at the Cambridge location Saturday morning -- there were perhaps around 5-7 other tables there at a little before 9am. With the large space it looked pretty empty (not like, say, Johnny D's for weekend brunch). I found the service to be acceptable, not really noteworthy (if I hadn't been following this thread already) either way. I had the green eggs and ham, which I found to be a good, filling dish. I would have liked the herb sauce to be more herby but did like the dill that I did detect in it. The over easy eggs were done just as I like them, not runny but still custard-y in the middle. I did find the potatoes to be a bit bland, but was fine with adding Tabasco to them. We were offered coffee and water refills several times.

                                                                                                Overall I wouldn't necessarily call it a destination meal, but I can definitely see going there with friends in the future when we're looking for a relaxed place for an early breakfast with decent food.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: newyorker1
                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                  hatchjasp Jun 29, 2009 06:01 AM

                                                                                                  hey. this is the FrIendly Toast owner Robert. I left a response last night to some recent misinformation about us (scroll up about 15 comments) and wanted to add that either Melissa or I do cook most days in one of the restaurants. I prefer bussing tables so i can eavesdrop on customers(kidding) but end up at the toast/fry station a lot. Melissa cooks every weekend in Portsmouth and alternates the rest of the week. Restaurants are like small children. Got to watch them.....

                                                                                                  1. re: hatchjasp
                                                                                                    Tir_na_nOg Jun 29, 2009 01:46 PM

                                                                                                    Thanks for posting Robert. Hopefully, some of the comments in this tread will be useful to you. Don't take any of them personally. I'm sure we all want you to suceed! I'm definitely going back for seconds one of these days...

                                                                                                    1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                      Blumie Jun 29, 2009 02:48 PM

                                                                                                      I agree. I have not tried the Friendly Toast yet, but am much more inclined to following Robert's post. That said, I still plan to give it some time to work out these (perhaps significant) kinks.

                                                                                                2. b
                                                                                                  bear Jun 29, 2009 03:00 PM

                                                                                                  Did anyone notice the noise level at the Cambridge location and whether it is easy to carry on a conversation? We've only eaten at the Portsmouth place once and really liked the food and kitsch, but found the music quite loud (yes, I know, we're turning into old farts). Our Saturday breakfasts out are a time to relax and spend time together as well as have decent food, and we prefer places where we can talk without shouting.

                                                                                                  In any event, I wish them well. There's plenty of room for decent breakfast places in the area and hopefully they'll work out the kinks pretty soon. We'll wait a few more weeks before giving them a try.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: bear
                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                    BJK Jun 29, 2009 05:51 PM

                                                                                                    It's been nice and quiet the 3 - 4 times we've been, but we've been there at around 8 AM to accommodate our toddler's schedule.

                                                                                                    1. re: BJK
                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                      bear Jun 30, 2009 03:43 AM

                                                                                                      Thanks, that's helpful. We're usually out before 10, so that sounds hopeful.

                                                                                                      1. re: bear
                                                                                                        b
                                                                                                        BJK Jul 6, 2009 06:37 PM

                                                                                                        Went back again on Friday morning. Really liked the "Ole Miss." Homemade Jalapeno Cheddar toast topped with 2 sausage patties, mashed chipotle sweet potatoes, scrambled eggs and mango sour cream. Wife thought it was too spicy for breakfast. Not me. :)

                                                                                                        Also got a half order of the tofu scramble for our toddler for half price (about $4.50). Really good. Tofu, mushrooms, corn, feta, provolone & cilantro, and a side of toast (had the cinnamon raisin). Good stuff.

                                                                                                        Wife's pancakes were great as usual. Batter's on the sweet side, so I've found that adding chocolate chips (or heath bar for that matter) is over the top sweet for my tastes. I'm still drawn to the King Cakes and the Almond Joy Cakes like a moth to a flame, but I think sticking with blueberries is a wiser choice.

                                                                                                        Gotta give lunch a try one of these days.

                                                                                                        :)
                                                                                                        BK

                                                                                                        1. re: BJK
                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                          teezeetoo Jul 7, 2009 07:21 PM

                                                                                                          finally got here on a nice off-hour (11 AM). Service was very good and very likable. Meal had hits and misses. Hits: good corned beef hash, better than average coffee. Eggs were fine. Bread is too big and not impressive: Town Diner's sour dough and harvest much better. Ditto, according to spouse, Town Diner's sour cream pancakes. He found these too sweet. Hash browns had a nice bit of kick but were undercooked. Both Town Diner and Spot in Watertown serve good jam with their excellent bread. I'll go back and see if they know how to make an omelet. I liked it but it won't bounce Town Diner and Spot from my favorites list.

                                                                                                  2. d
                                                                                                    djd Sep 6, 2009 01:48 PM

                                                                                                    Finally made it here. Had what seems to have become the common experience: pretty good food, inexplicably ridiculous wait. I was prepared to wait, of course, but still... esp. coming in at 1:15 p.m.... over 1-1/2 hours from arrival to eating. I understand that the kitchen gets backed up, which our waitress nicely warned us about up front, but I still don't quite get how they can take that long when half the people there when we arrived had eaten and left well before we got our food. The seats vs. kitchen ratio must be off. (I'm skeptical enough to wonder if profitability requires more seats than the kitchen can handle—though a wait puts off a lot of customers too.)

                                                                                                    Can't say I'm into the Other-Side-Meets-T.G.I.Fridays decor, fwiw.

                                                                                                    But perhaps don't listen to me, because after a rare burst of brunching these last few weeks I'm feeling disinclined to go out for brunch ever again. Somehow I don't like it anymore? Very strange.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: djd
                                                                                                      greenzebra Sep 11, 2009 03:06 PM

                                                                                                      I also just went recently. I really enjoyed the food, especially the cheddar-jalapeno toast. But the wait is still horrible at peak times -- we arrived around 10:30 am on a Saturday, got seating a bit after 11:00 am, but didn't get our food until just after noon. The waitress was very nice about it, but a 45+ minute wait for food after ordering is still rather ridiculous. Otherwise very good, but after 3 months you'd think they'd have started to get things together with the service and wait times.

                                                                                                    2. g
                                                                                                      glenn mcdonald Sep 6, 2009 05:13 PM

                                                                                                      I've been here many times, but not for a few weeks, so an updated opinion: go early! We went over at a little before 10am this (Sunday before Labor Day) morning, and were seated immediately and served before two 2-year-olds could get fussy.

                                                                                                      Foodwise, our eggs and pancakes were all excellent, and the potatoes, which I hadn't had in the last month or so, are now definitely up to the original Portsmouth standard.

                                                                                                      By the time we left, a little over an hour later, every table was occupied and there was a crowd of 20-30 people waiting in the lounge and outside, with more pouring in towards the place as we walked out through the courtyard...

                                                                                                      1. f
                                                                                                        fionadaisy Sep 7, 2009 08:53 AM

                                                                                                        I've been... 3 or 4 times since they opened in Cambridge maybe? Service has been fine, food has been excellent (omg the Matt sandwich, just thinking about it makes me drool), and I haven't had to wait to be seated once. I do try to go on "off" hours - a little earlier than the hangover/brunch crowd for breakfast, dinner during the week, etc. The complaints I've heard from friends about the service seems to be when they are super crowded, which isn't necessarily excusable on their part, but it's worked to my advantage so far.
                                                                                                        I kind of want to go there right now, but I think I'd be asking for trouble...

                                                                                                        1. Tir_na_nOg Oct 7, 2009 03:52 AM

                                                                                                          Any updates? Have they got their act together? I was walking by there after the MIT glass pumpkin sale last weekend and there was a line outside (despite the threatening weather).

                                                                                                          22 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                                                                                            jgg13 Oct 7, 2009 05:58 AM

                                                                                                            A friend of mine went a few weeks ago, w/ no knowledge of their problems, just knowledge of the Portsmouth location. His tale echoed that of a lot of people - his food was pretty good when he finally got it, but it took sooooooooooooo looooong to get it.

                                                                                                            1. re: jgg13
                                                                                                              fmcoxe6188 Oct 7, 2009 06:08 AM

                                                                                                              I went for the second time over labor day weekend- I felt the same- the food was tasty (better than my first go) but it took forever to be served....

                                                                                                              1. re: fmcoxe6188
                                                                                                                c
                                                                                                                chuck s Oct 7, 2009 06:45 AM

                                                                                                                I had a similar experience. Went with a party of nine on a Sunday at 2 p.m. Waited about 45 mintues. We ordered then waited another 45 minutes for the food to arrive. When it did, my order was missing. It was not put in. Another wait. Everyone else was finished when my order arrived.

                                                                                                                Not worth the hassle.

                                                                                                            2. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                                                                                              b
                                                                                                              Blumie Oct 7, 2009 06:46 AM

                                                                                                              I've been twice, both times at around 6pm on Sunday evenings. Both times we were able to walk in and get a table for six without waiting. Service was friendly, perhaps a little slow, but not outrageously slow. In general the food has been decent (not great, but decent). Minor slipups include cold coffee (not luke warm coffee, cold coffee) and a pancake that was ordered but never appeared. I'll return, but it's certainly not worth waiting in line for (imho).

                                                                                                              1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                                                                                                a
                                                                                                                another_adam Oct 7, 2009 07:18 AM

                                                                                                                Just stopped in Monday night after a movie (they're open til 10 on weeknights). The place was pretty empty, and maybe also a little understaffed (lots of not fully cleaned tables). We ordered and the food came *incredibly* fast-- probably due to the fact that they were empty, and it was probably getting on 9:45 and they were eager to close up? I'm not particularly into sweet foods, so got one of the egg dishes (salmon benedict). It was alright, but not incredible or anything (eggs cooked fine, salmon not especially flavorful, hollaindaise was very thick but not all that flavorful, either). Potatoes were great, though- little charry bits, salty and a little spicy.
                                                                                                                Our server was a bit scarce, but we didn't need anything, so all was cool. There were a few other tables lingering around, too, so we didn't feel particularly rushed to finish up quickly so they could get out of there. Found it to be all around a nice place for a bit on the late side in Kendall, but I'm not sure I'd go during prime time!

                                                                                                                1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                                                                                                  CreativeFoodie42 Oct 7, 2009 12:56 PM

                                                                                                                  I've been back several times and it is still the same - good food, sticky tables, and really slow service.....

                                                                                                                  1. re: CreativeFoodie42
                                                                                                                    Tir_na_nOg Oct 7, 2009 04:59 PM

                                                                                                                    We'll have to see if the jinx holds. No one in living memory has survived long in that space. Pity, but it doesn't sound like TFT are liable to change that ...

                                                                                                                    1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                                                                                                      BarmyFotheringayPhipps Oct 7, 2009 05:50 PM

                                                                                                                      Yeah, it seems like a restaurant that routinely has two-hour waits for an open table at peak times must really be hurting for business...

                                                                                                                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                                        Tir_na_nOg Oct 8, 2009 03:33 AM

                                                                                                                        When everyone has been there once, and doesn't have any particular desire to go there again (which is pretty much the consensus of this thread), I think they will be hurting...

                                                                                                                        Eventually the hype wears off, and business reality sets in.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                                                                                                          b
                                                                                                                          Blumie Oct 8, 2009 05:34 AM

                                                                                                                          Plus, if the line is the result of their inability to turn the tables fast enough, a full restaurant may not translate into a terribly profitable restaurant.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                                                                                                            BarmyFotheringayPhipps Oct 8, 2009 10:12 AM

                                                                                                                            We're getting very different consensuses out of this thread. And if the Friendly Toast is just hype, why has the Portsmouth location thrived for years?

                                                                                                                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                                              MC Slim JB Oct 8, 2009 10:23 AM

                                                                                                                              It's also not a good idea to extrapolate a sample of Chowhound opinion into a restaurant's success or failure. The Cheesecake Factory has lines out the door, and I don't see many Chowhounds praising it.

                                                                                                                              But the notion of consensus on this board is kind of antithetical to the Chowhound ethos, anyway. It's supposed to be a cacaphony of individual opinions, not some aggregate.

                                                                                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                hotoynoodle Oct 8, 2009 04:08 PM

                                                                                                                                the cheesecake analogy is apt. we're a small slice of the dining-out pie here, although everything i have read about this place and repeated has kept all of my friends away, lol.

                                                                                                                                some people simply aren't as persnickety as others about waiting, sloppy service or dirty menus as long as their pancakes weigh 12 pounds and have enough bananas and chocolate chips to induce a diabetic coma.

                                                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                                                                  BarmyFotheringayPhipps Oct 8, 2009 08:45 PM

                                                                                                                                  And others of us wonder what restaurant you've been eating at thinking it's The Friendly Toast, since I haven't run into a single one of those problems yet. (For that matter, nor do I get the pancakes: sweet breakfasts don't do it for me.) I honestly wonder what days and times the people who claim two-hour waits for tables, 45-minute waits for food and mishandled orders are going to this restaurant, because my own experience -- at either location -- has been nothing like this.

                                                                                                                                  I'm not complaining, since clearly I'm getting the better end of the deal, but it's puzzling. The version of the Friendly Toast that you claim exists sounds horrifyingly bad, but that's not at all the restaurant I've been going to all this time.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                                                    MC Slim JB Oct 9, 2009 05:05 AM

                                                                                                                                    This basically echoes my experiences: it's clean, it's not unreasonably slow, and I like the food and atmosphere. But I have managed to go at off-peak times, e.g., very early on a Sunday, 8-ish at night, early afternoon, so maybe I'm not getting a proper sampling of the slowness problem.

                                                                                                                                    I suspect that some of the virulent negativism is about undershot expectations. The NH original has such a cultish following that perhaps some people are expecting to be floated on a cloud of wonderment, when it's just a solid breakfast-food-oriented place with a specific sort of ambience. Not many people are going to react with "Whoa: most awesomest restaurant evar!", but that's what some of the hype might lead you to expect.

                                                                                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                      b
                                                                                                                                      Blumie Oct 9, 2009 05:44 AM

                                                                                                                                      Same thing happened when All Star Sandwich Bar opened.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                        b
                                                                                                                                        bear Oct 9, 2009 06:01 AM

                                                                                                                                        I agree. We went once a few Saturdays ago, maybe about 9 a.m. (obviously early enough) and it was fine. No wait, friendly enough service, and the food was decent. The menu is pretty varied and extensive, and the atmosphere is what it is, kitschy and fun enough. I didn't even bother to post because the experience was decent but unremarkable and there wasn't anything new to add.

                                                                                                                                        I have to say that, having been to the NH place once or twice, I think I had realistic expectations so I wasn't expecting an amazing experience, just a decent breakfast.

                                                                                                                                        We haven't been back since, but will probably return some morning when we need a place that opens fairly early and are tired of our usual haunts. Later in the morning, I'd probably opt for somewhere else because there are places that we really like that open about 10ish. It's a decent addition, but probably not a regular stop.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: bear
                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                          CookieLee Oct 9, 2009 11:44 AM

                                                                                                                                          bear, do share w. us other breakfast places. Winter is a comin' and I like to go for a brisk walk followed by a hearty breakfast!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: CookieLee
                                                                                                                                            b
                                                                                                                                            bear Oct 9, 2009 06:55 PM

                                                                                                                                            CookieLee, sounds like a great thread. In the next few days when I have a few minutes, I'll compile a list and post several of the places that we head to on our Saturday morning breakfasts in a new thread, and hopefully others will pile on.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                          BarmyFotheringayPhipps Oct 9, 2009 10:19 AM

                                                                                                                                          I suspect you're right: some folks might have misunderstood the tenor of the praise. Although as I've said before both here and elsewhere, even the Portsmouth location has extremely vocal detractors: there's something about The Friendly Toast that seems to actively offend some people, to the extent that their criticism is as overblown as other folks' praise. Someone in an earlier thread actually impugned the personal hygiene of a server at the NH location, which she quickly walked back into claiming that she'd meant to say the table was dirty, not the waitress. But that's the level of some of the criticism this place has always gotten.

                                                                                                                                        3. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                                                                                                          fmcoxe6188 Oct 9, 2009 06:47 AM

                                                                                                                                          Hi Barmy! To clarify my experience- I last went on Friday before Labor day at a some what off time and sat at the bar to avoid any type of wait for a table so I cant speak to that wait. However, I waited an extremely long time for our meals to be served- far too long for what we had ordered.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Tir_na_nOg
                                                                                                                            b
                                                                                                                            bee Oct 9, 2009 05:55 PM

                                                                                                                            I live in the neighborhood and have been there numerous times for breakfast around 8:30am both on weekdays and weekends with no problems at all. I'd really rather pay slightly less and have slightly less food, but it's fun and I like the creative atmosphere. The pumpkin pancakes are particularly good. I wish the coffee was better. I have a toddler who loves to look at all the things on the walls and who has been treated really well there, though sometimes better than others. I attempted to meet with my book club one weekday evening and they seated 7 of us no problem at 7pm but it was really pretty loud for that. I've had really sweet waitresses there.

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