Can Good Day Cafe also serve great food at night?

Golden Valley eatery reputed for awesome breakfasts now serves dinner

On a recent Sunday morning, an older woman in a long wool coat stood in the vestibule of the jam-packed Good Day Cafe and shouted into her cell phone. "Can you think of someplace else to go?" she pleaded over the din.

The scene was typical of a weekend morning at the Golden Valley cafe, which opened next to the Metropolitan Ballroom nearly three years ago. The place serves bang-up breakfast fare in a neighborhood that's short on brunch options, so hour-long waits are to be expected. I was tempted to give the cell phone woman a little advice: Grab a cup of coffee and just wait it out.

Good Day's owner, David Webb, has had a long run in the restaurant business. He owned Coco Cha Cha, CocoLezzone, and the American Cafe, restaurants that inhabited the same building successively over the past several decades. Webb is typically at the Good Day a few hours every day to check on things and greet his longtime regular customers, causing some staffers to refer to the place as his "personal train set."

Comfort food, and plenty of it: Mac and cheese for grownups (foreground); Cajun chicken pasta
Alma Guzman
Comfort food, and plenty of it: Mac and cheese for grownups (foreground); Cajun chicken pasta

Location Info

Map

Good Day Cafe

5410 Wayzata Blvd.
Minneapolis, MN 55416

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Golden Valley

Details

GOOD DAY CAFE
5410 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley
763.544.0205
appetizers $5-$11; entrées $11-$26

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Good Day opened serving breakfast and lunch, with plans to launch dinner service six months later. Months turned into years while recipes for the evening menu were revised dozens of times. But what did we expect? Scratch cooking takes time.

The new Blue Plate dinners are the sort that might leave one snoozing a half-hour later, from macaroni and cheese, which has recently come back into style, to liver and onions, which probably never will. (Remember when Mom tried to feed you the stuff as a kid? "But Grandpa likes it," she'd say, unconvincingly, as you surreptitiously passed it off to the dog.) Good Day's liver and onions looks pretty much the same as the meal has for eternity, except it's served with a pile of skin-on French fries. "It's actually not that bad," said a first-time liver-and-onions eater, who was, our waiter said, the only person under the age of 60 he'd ever seen request it.

In the appetizers section, the popovers proved a better choice than the calamari, which arrived at the table with a deep-fried crust that was soft instead of crunchy. The popovers rank right up there with those at the Oak Grill, the vintage, wood-paneled dining room that has been setting the standard for local popovers since my mother was a little girl. The hollow rolls are light and shatteringly crisp, with a mild, eggy sweetness that pairs nicely with the accompanying pistachio honey butter.

Like its breakfasts and lunches, Good Day's dinner entrées are mostly competent executions of uncomplicated fare. The turkey potpie is a one-crust version—a flaky pastry bowl filled with carrots, peas, and turkey hunks swimming in light, savory gravy. Beef stroganoff, another home-cooked favorite that's hard to find on local restaurant menus, consists of fresh, homemade egg noodles (a tad overcooked when I had them) with tender bites of meat and rich, creamy gravy. Gourmet mac and cheese may be a little overdone these days, but still, Good Day's "adults-only" version stands out. The elbow-shaped noodles are fused with a mix of melted cheddar, Fontina, and Gorgonzola cheeses, studded with tomato, onion, and smoky bacon nubs, and topped with roasted garlic breadcrumbs. It makes Kraft Dinner with a cut-up hot dog seem downright pathetic.

All of Good Day's portions are generous, and then some. An order of Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans contained so much food that it required two plates. Unfortunately, the meatballs lacked a Swedish influence, with no detectable trace of the typical allspice or nutmeg. The Original Tchoupitoula is a dish revived from the old American Cafe, a béarnaise-topped Cajun chicken breast on an enormous pile of hash that doesn't feel as thoughtful as it could—if I'm going to eat a breakfast that seems improvised from dinner leftovers, I might just as well eat at home.

Though the restaurant has always served alcohol, Good Day recently installed a small counter called the Bad Day Bar. I'd rather find myself seated on one of its stools with a plate of eggs than a glass of wine, though, as the list seems to prioritize cutesy names (Cupcake, Broke Ass, etc.) and affordability over excellence. Though some of the prices seem shockingly cheap—$1.75 a glass!—they reflect three-ounce pours instead of the standard five. I wouldn't have objected to the deviation except that it wasn't clearly indicated on the list and thus felt a little deceptive.

Overall, the food and atmosphere at Good Day are comfortable but perhaps not as compelling as other dinner options nearby—without traffic, it takes all of five minutes to get downtown. During daylight hours, the Good Day's dining room looks bright and cheery. But since it lacks the authentic retro ambiance of places like Peter's Grill, Jax, or the Band Box, evenings at the Good Day can feel like you're having dinner at a suburban breakfast place where somebody dimmed the lights and put on a Sarah McLachlan CD.

That said, for families dining with children, I can see the Good Day's appeal: The environment is as relaxed as at the casual chains, but the food is much better. You don't have to exile yourself to Perkins until the kids are old enough to tie their own shoes.

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