Monday was a long, long, long day. It felt like no one else was at work, the weekend wasn’t long enough, and there just wasn’t a lot going for that day for me during the daylight hours. Fortunately I had a dinner date with my best friend Emily to go to Mr. Friendly’s. We spent a good portion of the day drooling over Mr. Friendly’s Restaurant Week menu specials, pre-planning what we were most excited to try that night. Buttermilk battered fried pickles were a definite resounding must for both of us.
Mr. Friendly’s is located in Five Points, across from the recently toasted Salty Nut Cafe, on the side of Claussen’s Inn. The parking in that area is tight, something we found out only after joking that valet parking was a stupid idea for a restaurant with parking right near the door. Turns out valet parking isn’t such a dumb idea after all. We got in and were seated at the last table available (seems to be a RWSC theme for me so far!) and were immediately attended to by a very nice and super friendly server. She got us water, booze and fried pickles pretty quickly. The pickles were piping hot and crisp, covered in a flaky buttermilk batter with a ramekin of black pepper‐roasted garlic aioli. We split the pickles, which was a wise decision because there were a ton of them. It would probably satisfy 3-4 hungry people as an appetizer.
Emily went for the Mr. Friendly’s $25 Three Course Restaurant Week Menu route with fried butternut squash ravioli with candied pecans, shrimp and grits, and we split her pumpkin cognac cheesecake. I got to sneak a taste of the ravioli too, and it was much different than I expected. The outer layer was pastry-dough flaky, and it was more dessert-like than I imagined it being, though it was still very good. I was expecting a more savory* take due to the word ravioli. I didn’t have any shrimp and grits but they must have been good because there were no leftovers!
I asked if there were any vegetarian options with the three course special but they were being pretty strict with the prix-fixe menu, as most places seem to be doing, so I ordered the vegetarian entree special of the night, which was a roasted vegetable lasagna type dish with a side salad. I ordered the side salad with a barebecque sauce vinaigrette which was FAN TAS TIC. I wasn’t sure if I would like it because I like bbq flavored chips but not bbq sauce, but am so glad I took this risk. I’d drink it. It’d a red based bbq sauce vinaigrette, tangy, saucy and sweet all in the same drop and complemented the crispness of the salad leaves and the caramelized onions and roasted tomatoes perfectly. The lasagna was chock full of chopped, roasted vegetables in between lasagna noodles and topped with a gooey layer of soft cheeses. I’m pretty sure there were chopped up mushrooms in there but they way that they were cut so fine and mixed well with tomatoes and an assortment of other veggies, I didn’t even notice. I didn’t even CARE.
The atmosphere of Mr. Friendly’s is classy-casual. I didn’t feel like I couldn’t use my fingers to eat the pickles, yet it’s not the type of place where you get a toothpick on the way out. The menu is inventive, fantastically delicious, and is vegetarian friendly (though not going out of their way to be such) and worth the money. The desserts are worth a try, and if you like wine, they have a large selection thanks to being neighbors with Cellar on the Greene. Try it, it’ll make your Monday, or any day, worth having gone through.