Bad Waitress Northeast goes from diner dive to cocktail bar

This ain't a routine poutine

This ain't a routine poutine The Bad Waitress

She may be a bit fancier, but don’t think The Bad Waitress is abandoning her wisecracking sense of humor.

On Black Friday, Bad Waitress Northeast's new chef Oby O’Connor (Cafe Maude, the Bulldog NE) and his trusty staff will rock a re-imagined dinner menu with a supper club vibe as they debut a different version of the diner.

What’s that gonna look (and taste) like? We got a sneak peek last week. Here are the basics:

5. It’s not a complete overhaul.

This is a relaunch from neighborhood diner to -- as owners Mary and Andy Cohen put it -- “neighborhood finer diner.” If you’re already anxiously murmuring But what about the pancakes? -- don’t fret. Bad Waitress's daytime menu is unchanged for now, and those luscious, plate-size lovies are staying put, along with a reliable cast of breakfast and lunch mainstays.

4. The pulp isn’t just in your OJ.

Entrees, starters, and sides are divided up into menu categories straight from a pulp crime novel: villains, sidekicks, and heroes. The poutine transcends its messy french fries-and-gravy roots with a more elegant preparation of thin-sliced spuds, three-cheese gratin, and bechamel sauce, reminiscent of the kind of scalloped potatoes you might find at a classic steakhouse. Likewise, the cocktails are unfussy but glam: We especially liked the smooth sugar kick of the pineapple rum-infused Pleasure Seeker and the tangy gin-hibiscus-citrus Paradise Circus.

3. Breakfast food + craft cocktails = dinnertime bliss.

If you’re a fan of breakfast at dinnertime, the new menu satisfies that irrational hunger in a couple of memorable ways. First, the Eggs in a Basket defies categorization to shine as a light dinner entree in its own right -- and it pairs swimmingly with, weirdly enough, a stiff cocktail. (Try the Screwy Rabbit, which might make you reconsider whether a vodka smoothie might not be the worst idea.) Second, the chicken and cornmeal-poblano waffles with gravy are just too tasty to be relegated to morning hangover food.

2. They have the meats.

Does the phrase “supper club” conjure ladies in cocktail dresses sipping frothy rum concoctions while munching on, well, giant hunks of steak? Chef O’Connor admits he’s “a meat guy,” and the new menu reflects that enthusiasm: Think pork chops, hanger steak, and baby reds; a crazy-rich marrow served on the bone with a shot of whiskey; and the biggest damn Reuben (house-brined, beer-braised corned beef, rolled up in a rye pancake) you’ve ever seen. If hunks of meat aren’t your thing, the chef admits he relies on his veggie/vegan colleagues to steer him right on the produce front. A badass buffalo cauliflower and a beet tartare served up with cashew truffle cream backed him up on that point.

1. It had to be done.

Like a three-piece rock band landing a new lead guitarist whose style matches its sound, the new menu aims to reflect the sparkling bar and the dining room’s industrial-chic flair. “The space demands it,” mused owner Mary as she gazed up at the lofted timber ceilings and the massive windows spilling buckets of sunset-tinged light across red leather banquettes. The space probably also demands that on Saturday nights you ditch your winter sweatpants for an outfit that doesn’t look like a blanket. But if you don’t, the personable servers will be nice to you nonetheless. It’s still a diner, after all (and thank goodness).

The Bad Waitress Northeast
700 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis; (612) 354-7947