When it comes to eating out, I am extremely critical. Working in the food service industry since the age of 14, I know what quality looks like, what good service is, and whether or not a place is clean. The Friendly Toast, in Portsmouth New Hampshire, is one of the few places I leave satisfied every single time. From the nostalgic environment to the awesome food, this place is one of the few non-chain restaurants left in the world.
The first feeling you will get upon entering this wonderful eatery is confusion. The doors are slightly tricky to maneuver the first few times, do not fret, you will get the hang of it. The second feeling you will get immediately after you have handled the door situation is awe. From small oil paintings to gigantic rocket ships, the walls and ceilings are totally decked out with stuff. Old board games, busts, art work, bicycles, and everything else you can imagine is up covering the entirety of the walls. Every booth has something different about it. Whether it be the type of bench, different lamp, napkin holder, salt shaker, or color, you will be sitting in a unique place. At the tables each chair is painted by hand, from different places, totally different styles from wicker to bar stools, and again, unique. Did I mention that everyone gets different plates too?!
Everyone in the dining room is smiling, looking at the menu sadly because they can’t order everything, or laughing with close friends. Sometimes you can look into the kitchen and see the chefs dancing and singing along with the music playing. Even on your worst day ever, going in and just sitting there will cheer you up right away.
The nostalgia, eclectic collection or art pieces, happy people, and great food is hip, young and mature simultaneously.
Staff and Service
Once you walk in The Toast, it may take a minute to remember to grab a menu and seat yourself wherever your heart desires. After a couple seconds, a server will come over and greet you, take your drink orders, and invite you into the loving family. He or she will be genuinely enthusiastic to see you because they actually love working there! They will come back with your drinks and take your order and be back shortly with your meal. The food always comes to you fast and hot, and even if you place a custom order, they don’t mess it up. They never ask you to leave when it is full, never say no to your wacky order, and are always super polite and easy going.
Okay, so everything’s a bit dirty. But that’s just ’cause it’s old! Almost all of the decor and seating are somewhat vintage, so they have the rustic look to them. Never fear! Everything is sanitized, tables are clean, floor is mopped. Look into the kitchen and see shining stainless steel glistening in the light. The cooks all have on gloves, hats, and aprons. The plates are clean(and fun). You will not stick to the seat. It may not look the cleanest at first glance, but you won’t consider it unclean either.
Rent in downtown Portsmouth is very high. So high that you usually pay insane amounts of money for minuscule amounts of food. At The Toast, it is the opposite. I don’t know how they do it, but they serve big portions for small prices. I went there on a date a few weeks ago and got my entire meal for a mere six dollars where I usually would expect the bill to be around thirty for the meal we got. Amazing.
And Most Importantly: Food!
I’ll be honest. I am a picky eater. Somehow, I still struggle to pick between ten different dishes every time. The main problem (who am I kidding? This isn’t a problem) is the variety. From breakfast all day, to soup and salad, to burritos and fresh smoothies, anyone who enjoys food will be in heaven.
Not only are there a million fresh items to decide from, you can pick and choose, substitute, and add-on with no complaints. They are so flexible and friendly that you will just be beside yourself in glee.
After you finally decide which scrumptious item to order, your food will arrive shortly. You will see the steam rising, smell the succulent flavors, and your mouth will start to water. You will rudely start to eat while your server is asking if you need anything else, you will tune out your eating partner and symphonies play in your head, you will chew, swallow, and start again. Every dish I have ordered here has been high above what you would expect. It reminds me of an old fashioned diner, but not. Even if you hate smiling, art, nice people, unique decor, happiness, and cheap sustenance, you will still come back. The food is that good.
The Toast is located downtown Portsmouth, NH as well as in Cambridge, MA. You can find a menu, directions, hours and other such things at http://www.thefriendlytoast.net/ . Eat and be happy.