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Enjoying family style dining at Friendly Farm

Just a short drive from Reisterstown is one of Baltimore County's unique and interesting restaurants, and one of my all-time favorite places to go. Located in Upperco, just about a 20-minute ride from Reisterstown, is Friendly Farm Restaurant.

Established by the Wilhelm family in 1959, the restaurant sits on the family's 200-acre farm. The original farmhouse still greets you as you enter the grounds. There are three lovely ponds on the property which are typically full of geese and ducks. During the warmer weather, it is not usual to see many patrons of the restaurant sitting on one of the benches feeding the duck and geese bread or crackers.

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In 1964, the current building was opened as the restaurant and banquet hall to accommodate the growing number of patrons. I remember my parents taking me and my brother there as a Sunday treat every once and a while. My brother and I really loved those drives and the food. We are both now middle-age adults and still talk about the family meals we had there.

All the meals there are served family style. When you enter the restaurant, you order your entree and then you are seated. The dining room has many windows so you can have a lovely view of the farm and ponds while you eat. It's a very relaxing way to dine. Once seated, a waiter will appear to take your beverage order. They offer soft drinks, milk, juice, iced tea, hot tea and coffee.

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The waiter will then bring your table cottage cheese, apple butter, fruit, cole slaw, sugar biscuits that are warm and sweet and oh-so-wonderful, and of course, warm rolls and butter. When your entrees arrive at the table, they are served with homemade french fries, green beans and corn.

Friendly Farm entrees include their famous and delicious fried chicken, New York strip steak cooked to order, roast beef, filet mignon cooked to order, grilled ham, broiled pork chops, one or two jumbo lump broiled crab cakes, a seafood combo which includes a broiled crab cake and six jumbo fried shrimp, and more. If you are a vegetarian, you might be more interested in their fresh-baked eggplant parmesan. They also offer a children's menu which consists of fried chicken, chicken tenders, roast beef, grilled ham, broiled pork chop, fried shrimp, and a broiled or fried fish filet.

I have often been asked what my favorite Friendly Farm dish is, and the honest answer is this: I don't have a favorite; I love all their food. My entree selection varies depending on my mood. I might get their fried chicken, which is always moist, delicious and served piping hot. I like the broiled lump crab cake, which is full of thick chunks of tender crab meat. I like the breaded fried shrimp, but their New York strip is also mouthwateringly good. The grilled ham will make you think you have just been seated at Grandma's table. The roast beef is always juicy and tender.

What meal would be complete without dessert? Friendly Farm serves Hershey's Premium ice cream and sherbets. I like the moose tracks the best, but at Christmas-time they serve peppermint ice cream — oh so yummy. If you are there celebrating a birthday and let them know, they will bring your ice cream out with a candle in it for you.

Friendly Farm sells a selection of homemade breads, pies and other goodies such as apple dumplings on your way out. There is also a small gift shop that sells handmade crafts.

I like Friendly Farm because, for me, it's a step back in time to when life was simpler and easier. Trust me: It's well worth the 20-minute drive from Reisterstown.

Friendly Farm Restaurant is at 17434 Foreston Road in Upperco.

Terry Chaney is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached at antter95@yahoo.com.

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