The Friendly Toast
121 Congress St.
Portsmouth, NH 03801-4005
(last visited January 2005)
F-Sa 24 hours
The Friendly Toast proclaims "big food, day and night" on its colorful business card. Truth in advertising, indeed. Though it's only open continuously from Thursday at 7AM to Sunday at 9PM, that's still a lot better than most places in the area. And it's definitely big food; the portions are generous and will normally provide leftovers.
The decor is retro-kitsch: lots of vintage formica--50s and 60s furniture in general--lots of tacky paintings on the walls. Great fun, and reminiscent of the Paper Moon Diner in Baltimore. Service tends to be young and energetic, if sometimes overworked.
Food tends towards breakfast and lunch. There's a wide selection of egg dishes, including omelettes and sandwiches, and you can construct your own if you like. This is a place where you can definitely get your "breakfast for dinner" fix. Lunches are mostly sandwiches, and again you can construct your own if you like.
On our last visit, I simply had a Bleu Burger ($8) 9 ounces of beef with red onions and bleu cheese, lettuce and tomato on a kaiser roll. bedfull_o_books ordered one of her usuals, the Orleans fries ($6) sweet-potato fries topped with brown sugar, tabasco, and sour cream. (I've forgotten what else she got, or for that matter, what anyone else got; if they tell me, I'll edit.)
Rounding out the menu are a couple of miscellaneous options: a vegetarian stir-fry (broccoli, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, onions, carrots, green peppers, and spinach, sauteed with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, served over a bed of rice: $8, $8.75 with tofu) and beans and rice (dirty rice, made with brown rice and seasoning, topped with cuban kidney beans and sour cream, served with homemade toast).
Speaking of which, the "toast" are all made from homemade breads, and include whole wheat, cinnamon-raisin, oatmeal (which stands in for white bread), cayenne-cheddar, anadama (made with molasses and cornmeal), and a rotating special.
The Toast is a great stopover when driving through that little sliver of New Hampshire that actually touches the ocean. Because of its late weekend hours, you can easily drive up when the food options in Boston are closed or unappealing.