Interior of The Friendly Toast in Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Sitting in recently opened The Friendly Toast in downtown Portland felt like hanging out in a vintage snow globe, complete with fabulous food and sensational music.

All told, there are 10 Friendly Toast restaurants across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and, now at long last, Maine. A not unreasonable life goal would be to hit all of them. So far I’ve only been to three, but they’re all out there, waiting for me, waiting for you.

Before I had a single sip of coffee or bite of food, I was swooning in my booth at The Friendly Toast. Yes, indeed, it had me at hello. Everywhere I turned there was a retro light fixture, throwback band poster, quirky piece of artwork or wacky photograph. The first song I heard was by Hall & Oates, for Pete’s sake.

My only mistake was going on a work day, which meant I couldn’t order a Bloody Mary flight. Or something called a Shandy’s Painkiller made with silver rum, creme de coconut, pineapples, orange juice and nutmeg. Yum! Other than that, my visit to The Friendly Toast, which opened in early October, was a magical, mouth-watering experience.

The menu is vast and the list of appetizers was no joke. Hello, breakfast egg rolls and churro bites.

I dodged those calorie bullets, but more than made it up for them when I wisely ordered the Irish Benny ($16). This glorious dish consists of a thick-cut English muffin playing host to house-made corned beef hash, a duo of poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and a side of red potato home fries. The dish didn’t stand a chance against my appetite, and between sips of hot, fresh coffee and singing along to ’70s gems, I devoured this packed-with-flavor meal. Corned beef hash is one of my favorite foods, but one I rarely order. The Friendly Toast made it worth the wait.


Irish Eggs Benedict from The Friendly Toast in Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Usually, I don’t question the ordering decisions of my spouse Tracy. She’s a gourmet chef who skews way more healthy than I do. But I had to roll my eyes when, in a sea of decadent dishes like Doughnut Stop Believin’ (a breakfast sandwich on a French-toasted doughnut), she ordered a salad. She told me she just felt like it. Like the robot on “Lost in Space,” my only response was: “Does not compute.”

Red’s Southwest Salad from The Friendly Toast in Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

Along with my Irish Benny, I ended up eating crow because the Red Southwest Salad ($16) was gorgeous looking and also delivered taste-wise. The salad consists of iceberg lettuce, Rice Krispies-coated chicken breast, fire roasted poblano corn, shredded carrots, black beans, pico de gallo, pickled red onions, chimichurri sauce and cojita cheese, all tossed with ranch dressing. Tracy opted instead for citrus vinaigrette, which she said paired well with the salad.

There was plenty of chicken that was salty and crunchy from the cereal coating, and although she would have preferred fresh cilantro over a pureed version, Tracy gave the salad high marks. She also loved the bright colors and interesting fixtures that are a welcome change from the many wood and brick interiors in Portland.

Salads aren’t the only non-breakfast items on the menu. There are several bowls, like The Buff Mac (cavatappi pasta tossed with vegan sausage, chimichurri, vegan cheese, tomato, spinach, onion, garlic, roasted mushrooms, asparagus and roasted red peppers), and plenty of burger and chicken sandwich options.

Got a sweet tooth? Then dig into a stack of King Cakes, which is three mini banana and chocolate chip pancakes topped with bacon and finished with a peanut butter drizzle and whipped cream. Be still my beating heart! (Perhaps literally.)

Here’s one more to daydream about. Highway Strawberry is two slices of thick-cut French toast topped with cheesecake glaze, chocolate drizzle, fresh strawberries and powdered sugar.

It may have taken a long time for The Friendly Toast to find a home in Maine, but I get the sense that it’s going to be around for a long, long time.

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