Eating to Live on the Outside: Friendly's

One minute you're at home checking out DiseaseProof (shameless plug) and the next you're at a restaurant with friends---totally dumbfounded by the menu! It may be Friendly's, bit it's not looking very Fuhrman-friendly! You're scared. Your initial reaction is, "Oh man! I gotta get out of here. I can already feel myself getting fatter." Don't worry, you're not alone. We'll stare down this menu together. Although feel free to curl up into the fetal position if you need to.

For more than a month we've examined menus of many national restaurants, trying to figure out what an Eat to Liver might eat there. Some eateries have lots of potential like Chipotle, P.F. Chang's, and Baja Fresh. Others like Outback Steakhouse, Friday's, and IHOP, require a lot more creativity and concessions. As I've said in the past, this isn't perfect science. More like informed guess work. It may shock you to learn this, but I am not a doctor. I am a blogger.

Okay, time to flex my powers of guess-timation. This week I'll being taking a look at the ironically named Friendly's menu. After a few minutes of perusing the menu sweat actually began to bead up on my forehead. This restaurant is a tough sell for an Eat to Liver---just lots of good-old fried goo smothered with cheesey American goodness! But surprisingly, you do have some options.

At first I was thinking I might order the Tuna Roll, but given the amount of mercury in tuna, I'd avoid it. A basic soup and a salad is a decent choice, although stay away from the cream based soups and definitely not choose the oily or creamy salad dressings. Speaking of salad, the Oriental Chicken Salad and the Chicken Caesar Salad look good. I like the Oriental Chicken salad a lot because you get a nice array of plant matter: mandarin oranges, roasted almonds, and mixed greens. Just remember to go easy on the dressing. I'd easily take this over the Chicken Caesar Salad.

In this bleak setting, the Grilled Chicken Deluxe Sandwich gets honorable mention just for not being fried, and including shredded lettuce, tomato, red pepper, garlic, and red onion.

Another dish that is certainly worth a try is the Vegetable Fajita Quesadillas. You Eat to Livers know what I mean, you see the word vegetable on a menu and your eyes snap to attention. Now, it's not perfect, but you can work with it. The flour tortillas are a problem, but an acceptable concession if you skip the Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese. Then you're left with baby portabella mushrooms, sautéed onions, and red peppers and green peppers---I'm a sucker for portabella. Yes, I realize cheese is high on Dr. Fuhrman's list of evil foods.

Finally, if you're in the mood for fish give the Grilled Flounder a whirl. Calm down! According to flounder isn't too riddled with mercury, so if you have it, just wait a few weeks before you eat it again. The rest of the dish seems pretty tame, white rice and garden vegetables, but I'd kindly ask the waiter not to even show me the garlic bread.

And as always we want to hear about how you handle eating away from home. What would you do different? Check out the Friendly's menu and email us at or leave a comment. How do you Eat to Live on the outside?

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Comments (7) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
anet - June 23, 2006 6:15 PM

lemme warn you...I live in New England, land of Friendlys....I have been there twice to different locations..they were SO very, very slow (and this was back when I ordered adapting to my requests was NOT slowing them down..) So I told my coworker, she said OH, YEAH..thats why they are known as "Slowly's",

Vic - June 23, 2006 8:24 PM

Looking at the menu, how about the Gardenburger, with lettuce and tomato, on a whole wheat roll? Isn't that a better choice than some of the above?

Kyle Key - June 24, 2006 6:41 AM

Yes, it would be. I like the idea behind these columns, but I dislike how they always end up telling me to eat chicken or fish.

Yve - June 24, 2006 1:26 PM

I am confused about these columns myself.
It seems to me instead of chicken and fish in which the book does not speak favorly of, that the column would not recommend them so often when eating out.
There has to be a better way of making healthy choices.

Linda - June 24, 2006 10:08 PM

"...I dislike how they always end up telling me to eat chicken or fish."

:) Me too.

Vic - June 26, 2006 5:51 PM

Although sometimes the "comments" disagree, I really like this series on restaurants. Like it or not, going out to eat with friends at places like these is a common, real-world experience. Since it's usually not possible to have a "perfect" E2L experience in these places, these columns, and comments, can help us do the best we can. So Gerry, please keep your "restaurant reviews" coming, and keep your "thick skin" when the comments roll in, and we'll all learn something! Thanks.


Katie - August 25, 2008 6:00 PM

I've worked at Friendly's...You're better off just skipping the meal.

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