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Friendly Farm

Location: 17434 Foreston Road, Upperco, Md.

Cuisine: American

Jess' pick: Fresh fried chicken, with all-you-can-eat sides, beverage and ice cream, $18.95

Parking: Lot

Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. daily

Price range: $11.95, adult sharing plate; $35.95, two broiled jumbo lump crab cakes

Alcohol: No

Accepts: Cash and credit

Takeout: Yes

Kid's menu: Yes

Details: Call 410-239-7400 or visit friendlyfarm.net

Friendly Farm will offer a special St. Patrick's Day entree on March 17. Corned beef and cabbage for $20.95 will be served with regular side dishes and mint chocolate chip ice cream. The regular menu will also be available that day.

Friendly Farm might be only a few miles off I-83, but you would never know it.

The picturesque country setting provides a serenity that's hard to find nowadays.

The restaurant sits on a 200-acre farm. In fact, you'd hardly know it was a restaurant if it weren't for signs.

What's apparent from the road is the farmhouse, which is where the late Jack and Dorothy Wilhelm started the eatery. Within five years, the business had grown so much they decided to open the present building, which includes a banquet room.

The operation has stayed in the family. Son Gary and his wife, Jane, have been running the restaurant for the past 25 to 30 years, Jane Wilhelm said. Their niece and her family still live in the farmhouse.

Pulling up the lane to the farm, the white buildings blended into a snowy landscape on a recent Monday afternoon. It's a scene taking you back to a simpler time. It's a place you'll want to take the kids to talk over dinner – and more dinner.

Food is served family-style here. Upon entering, patrons place an entree order -- choices range from filet mignon ($28.95) to crab cakes ($23.95 for one) and fried oysters when in season. Eggplant Parmesan ($18.95) is available for vegetarians and a kid's menu is also offered. Then, head over to the dining room for seating. That is, if you're lucky to get seating right away.

The waiting room looks like it's large enough to accommodate a busload (or maybe even two) of people, but Jane Wilhelm said on weekends, when the weather is nice, people can be lined out the door. And then there's Mother's Day and Easter – both busy occasions. It can be an hour to two-hour wait, Jane Wilhelm said.

The day I visited, I was lucky to walk right in and nab a window seat overlooking the farm. The dining area is country-themed and filled with tables.

Service started with a drink, soup (vegetable) and (several) appetizers – cottage cheese, apple butter, coleslaw, fruit (which happened to be warm apples dusted with cinnamon), sugar biscuits and potato rolls.

Does that sound comforting to you? To me, it was like eating at Grandma's house – and every time you finish a dish, it's refilled, too.

I picked the fresh fried chicken ($18.95), which includes a breast, thigh, leg and wing, as my entree. Jane Wilhelm said crab cakes are the most popular entree at Friendly Farm, but "the fried chicken is right behind it."

The fried chicken entree will be discounted to $15.95 every Monday and Tuesday in March.

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