Debra Born, Staff Writer
When it comes to food, I’m not very adventurous. Baklava? I’m not a fan; it’s too soggy and sweet. Sushi? I tried several kinds once and it tasted so terrible to me that I couldn’t stop laughing while trying to eat it and left the restaurant amused, but hungry. Stuffed grape leaves? I’ve tried it; please excuse me while I run the other way.
Sometimes I branch out into the tried-and-true foods that I enjoy, like Chinese General Tso’s Chicken, Greek Red Pepper Hummus, Middle Eastern Maneesh Flatbread or a Mexican Supreme Chalupa. However, I always return to my roots of plain, American fare.
It must be a family trait, because my brother Jon is the same way. After picking him up at the train station recently we went to Friendly’s, which is within easy walking distance from Utica College.
The restaurant was busy and we got there at noon, which must have been peak customer time. We decided to order something quick – sandwiches and French fries – then talked as we waited, and waited. After we had caught up on each other’s entire life story, the food arrived.
Jon had a turkey club sandwich with Applewood smoked bacon, cheese, and tomato. He rated it an eight out of ten, saying that the sauce was too “drippy.”
Cheesy, beefy, peppery goodness. My Philly cheese steak sandwich with green bell peppers and onions on toasted sourdough bread was perfect, until my next bite – a pile of sautéed onions. The chef didn’t win any prizes for dumping all of them in one small section of the sandwich on top of nothing but bread.
Then I took a closer look at the menu photo compared to my actual sandwich.
As can be seen from the photos, the menu led me to believe the sandwich was larger than it turned out to be. However, it was still plenty for lunch and I didn’t finish my fries.
Overall, the sandwich was good. I must not have read the menu closely enough to notice the kind of cheese because I normally don’t eat American cheese (that sliced orange stuff is melted plastic, folks, not cheese). However, the cheese in this sandwich paired well with the steak and I tolerated the bright cheese mingling with my steak and peppers. Still, I would have preferred seriously-sharp cheddar cheese.
The fries were good, but not amazing. I would have liked them crispier with a pinch more salt.
I would have written off my experience at Friendly’s as fun but not food-worthy, except for one thing – a tall glass filled with a creamy, vanilla milkshake, with a high pile of whipped cream swirled on the top and a cheerful, red cherry nestled in the middle. I love plain, vanilla milkshakes, and this one met my standards.
The ice cream can’t be so whipped that it is foamy, but it must be a thick, creamy consistency that can be eaten with a spoon. None of that thin, watered-down ice cream for me. Friendly’s is known for their delicious sundaes and milkshake and their perfect vanilla shake delivered on that promise.
I have to admit that I can never view Friendly’s the same after going to Steak N’ Shake, a non-local restaurant that serves amazing sandwiches and milkshakes for people like me who love American food. Their milkshakes are phenomenal, and they offer so many choices.
Would I recommend Friendly’s? I suppose so, in absence of a local Steak N’ Shake. Friendly’s saving grace is their milkshakes. Just pick a time that will beat the crowd and eye their sandwiches with some suspicion before digging in.