Restaurants that specialize in all things vegan are undoubtedly praiseworthy. Sometimes though it’s important to tip one’s hat to establishments that may not be completely veg-friendly, but still make an honest effort to accommodate by including vegan options on the menu–The Friendly Toast is one such establishment.
Nestled in the 1 Kendall Square block, neighboring Flat-top Johnny’s and Kendall Square Theatre, The Friendly Toast is yet another reason for Bostonians to cross the Charles for good food and an exceptional atmosphere. The interior of The Toast is anything but mundane; the walls are painted a solid green that is a few shades darker than lime and is covered with antique advertisements for products like “Dr. Scholl’s Zino Pads” and “Goodrich Sports Shoes.” Going around the perimeter of the restaurant is a foot-high strip of wallpaper with covers to old children’s novels, like Tom Swift adventure books and Hardy Boys mystery novels. The seating is comprised of tables with glittery booths and chairs of gray and green. The Friendly Toast manages to pull off the quasi-mid-twentieth-century vibe without being gimmicky.
On one far wall is a large sign that reads, “Think…Don’t Drink–Christian Civic Foundation Missouri,” an ironic touch, considering they have a full bar immediately after the main entrance.
Nothing is more detrimental to a dining experience than having conversation broken up by run-of-the-mill, lame-as-all-hell music, but The Friendly Toast does not falter in this case. Playing from speakers was an ecclectic mix, ranging from low-fi foreign punk to crooning rockabilly. The service was fast and casual, something made possible by the servers looking like normal dudes dressed in regular clothes, rather than drones with uniforms–our waiter got extra points for his Armageddon Records shirt, the only record store in Boston that matters (yeah I said it).
The menu itself followed suit with The Toast’s vintage feel. Illustrations from what looked like children’s books depicting familial themes of American dreams from days of yore, broke up the restaurant’s offerings. There were several tempting vegan options, such as the “Stir Fry,” which according to the menu, came complete with broccoli, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, onions, carrots, green peppers, and “spinach sauteed with garlic ginger and brown rice,” as well as the option to add tofu. Almost half of the breakfast menu allowed for tofu substitutes and their beverage list was diverse, it included a range of different fruit smoothies, each one available with soy milk.
I decided to go for the “Vegan Valhalla” described as, “A flour tortilla stuffed with Asian-sesame baked tofu, portobello mushrooms, brown rice, scallions, olive-oil, grilled baby spinach & tahini dressing.” The Valhalla was not very large, but compact enough that it provided a full meal, especially with the potato chips it came with.
The Friendly Toast is more than worth the ten minute walk from the Kendall Square T-stop and for a moderate sum, you can get a vegan meal that is not too heavy on the wallet. It is refreshing to see non-veg restaurants showing consideration for those with plant-based tendencies, if only other Boston establishments would be so kind.
*Editor’s Note: Please excuse overexposed, out of focus pictures taken with my point-and-shoot. Thanks!