You think diner and you think hash browns, and so you should. But soon you might be thinking those hash browns can be sided with a clinking drink as The Bad Waitress opens in Nordeast this week with a full bar manned by one of our original liquorati, Johnny Michaels.
Andy and Mary Cohen bought the Eat Street location of Bad Waitress a few years back and learned the ropes of owning a diner before they decided to do another. Props for that. They grabbed up the ground level space being renovated in the historic building at 700 Central, and have done a great job holding on to the original's diner vibe while giving it a push forward for the new neighborhood.
It's all windows facing the block, from floor to ceiling letting in the good light. On one side you have an open kitchen with counter seating, on the other is the bar. There are lots of great wood beams and architectural accents that they've just left raw, but also comfortable booths and local art to warm the place up.
But that bar. Michaels is happy to be in the city again, his forray into the wilds of White Bear Lake didn't seem to suit him after all, and he's happily showing up and shaking down with some new drinks (along with some old classics from the LBV bar days!)
The Warsaw is a great homage to the neighborhood's history. Polish potato vodka is combined with roasted beets and fresh horseradish for an earthy drink that's garnished with a caraway potato, pickle, and Kramarczuk sausage bit. The garnishes are more than snacks, they deliver that Eastern Euro aroma as you tilt in for a sip, it's a full composition.
Get ready for Strong Vibes, a gin and tonic with grapefruit and peppermint, popped with a little Green Chartreuse and spanked sage. Damn refreshing.
Knife in the Water is fresh take on the Old Fashioned. This one starts with a muddled blood orange topped with rye whiskey, and then it's given a splash of gin to add some robust botanicals. It works.
The Future Ghost of Roy Hargrove is a unique and balanced drink, one of those whose flavors evolve as you sip. Red wine is bolstered with hazelnut bourbon, bitters, and a bit of spice, which almost puts it in a mulled wine category, but really doesn't. It's far more fresh.
This shimmering beauty is a classic from the LBV days, and one of my favorites. Mogwai Are The Stars is made with Scottish whisky decked with Habanero-Butterscotch syrup and a bit of sea salt, for a smoky sweet biting sip.
And of course, since there's breakfast all day here, you can also get breakfast drinks all day. This brandied cappuccino is topped with a thin disc of bruleéd sugar, which you crack into and mix into the drink if you like a sweeter bit. Or just eat it.
Michaels is very excited to be working with pastry chef Christopher Brian, as the two are creating specific pairings for a drinks and desserts menu. Brian is leaning in a French direction, instead of typical cake-and-pie diner desserts, think of a beautifully simple crisp on the outside, soft on the inside Madeleine paired with an elegant small drink. The hope is to draw people to the bar at night for a last little bite.
As far a food goes, there are a lot of carry over dishes from the original, but a few special NE only ones as well. Be ready for brisket hash, great eggs bennie with local ham and sage, and plenty of pickeled things on the menu. One thing is for certain, these guys know how to perfectly poach an egg. Grand opening for the spot is Friday, but I'm not NOT saying you should swing by and see if a stool is free before that.