21 October 2007

Lunch at The Bad Waitress in Minneapolis

Ever since The Bad Waitress opened, I’ve been curious about it. How can you not be curious about a place that’s so sassy to call itself that? So when I met my wife and son for lunch on Eat Street, it was a perfect opportunity to give it a try.

When you walk in, you’re struck by the campy diner-style décor. It’s got a counter. It’s got booths. It’s got old movie posters and covers from comic books and photos of famous people. It’s got a jukebox. It’s got tschotschkes in every nook and cranny. Definitely a sensory overload.

So here’s the joke – the bad waitress is … YOU! When you enter the restaurant, you seat yourself, the menus are on the table, and you fill out your order and take it to the counter. I’m really not too keen on self service at a restaurant. I really don’t like places like Café Latte or French Meadow, where you go through a cafeteria line, pay, and then find a table. At least at The Bad Waitress, you get your table first, and after you place your order, a real server does bring you your food.

So what difference does it make? I like the idea of having someone who you can talk to and ask about specific menu items – “What’s good today? Is the Spyhouse Scramble better than the Flying Saucer? Can I get the Diablo Breakfast without any meat?” You get the picture. When you’re taking your own order, you have to come up with the answers on your own.

The other thing I can’t figure out is, how much do you tip when you do half the server’s work? At least, like I said, at The Bad Waitress a server does actually bring you your food. When we were there, I asked her to take our photo, which she did (though rather poorly). But at least there was something that I could justify giving a tip for.

So, setting aside décor and service, what really matters is the food. On our visit, we all ordered breakfasts. My son had a cheese omelet, which was the daily special – served with any two ingredients and hash browns; he had chorizo sausage and mushrooms. My wife had the Goat Cheese Omelet, with spinach and tomatoes. I had the Flying Saucer, with spinach, mushrooms, and brie. I also had hash browns.

I didn’t taste my son’s omelet, but he said it was very good. I thought my wife’s Goat Cheese Omelet was better than my Flying Saucer. The goat cheese added a distinctive flavor that was very good. My omelet, with brie, was a little bland. I thought the hash browns were good, but not as good as at Al’s Breakfast.

Despite my quibbles, I really did like The Bad Waitress. While we were there, I saw them serve some really nice looking sandwiches. I wouldn’t necessarily drive across town just to go there. But if I were in the neighborhood for breakfast or lunch or even just a glass of wine, I’d go again.

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