The Bad Waitress, the longtime laid-back icon of Eat Street, has spawned a Nordeast sib that’s a rung up the food chain from her elder sister. She’s put on her big-girl undies, reclaimed a spacious building, added cocktails to her attributes (oh, what cocktails!) and annexed dinner items to that classic burger-pancake-omelet list.
The shiny new digs are about a gazillion times bigger than the original site, boasting a lofty ceiling striated with robust beams and HVAC. Lots and lots of glass brighten the blond wood floor and red near-leather seating. Walls sport comic book-like murals, while a communal table invites chumminess.
Best of all is the near-endless bar — and with good reason, because it’s the source of almost supernaturally elegant cocktails, each ready for its photo shoot.
Consider this: Mogwai Are the Stars, a wizard combo of scotch, habanero-butterscotch syrup (!), sea salt and peat smoke, which kept me happy all evening as its hit of heat kept kicking in. Others, such as the Meow Mix and Parlez Vous, can double as dessert, thanks to their foamy, fruity frosting.
But, as some sage once put it, “Man cannot live by booze alone.” So we ordered dinner.
First, the grilled veg salad ($9.75), stipulating that we’d share it before our entrees. Instead, out came the entrees we’d subsequently ordered.
When we brought this politely to our server’s attention, we were advised that the entrees were ready and would get cold if we didn’t dig in. My companion suggested that the kitchen could correct the error by remaking them, if necessary. So out came out the salad — just not the one we’d ordered.
When the grilled veggie version made it to our table, we enjoyed the generous toss of asparagus, broccoli, onions, sweet peppers, summer squash, spinach and mushrooms, served with a side of balsamic dressing and slice of baguette.
Next up, tacos ($10.75) packed with carnitas — long-simmered, tender and tasty pulled pork tangled with onions, radish, cheddar, mozz and cilantro. Hit the spot.
Then, the brisket — our choice, $11.50, applauded by our server as her personal fave. But not ours, it turned out.
The meat (did it linger under the heat lamp, perhaps?) proved dry and stringy and — worse — so salty we couldn’t eat it. When at last the server checked back, she returned it and reported that the kitchen staff heartily agreed. The accompanying roast Brussels sprouts were tasty, but the promised bacon grits simply dense and grossly undercooked, their acute grittiness giving new meaning to their title. A huge mistake.
Finally, dessert. My companion ordered another cocktail as we waited, and within minutes, there it was — almost within reach as our waitress stood — and stood — chatting with a colleague, once again making us wonder if one had to be thoughtless and grumpy to fulfill the job description of the cafe’s title.
OK, dessert. We chose the tarte tatin ($5). The classic form is a flat piecrust, pinched in around the perimeter to enclose sliced apples under a caramelized topping. Not here. A sauce dish conveyed the dessert as a toss of charmless, chopped-up pieces, topped with what looked and tasted like whipped “cream” from an aerosol can.
Here’s what I’ll do next time (yeah, if they let me in): Order another marvy drink, accompanied by items from the bar snack menu starring plates of cheese and charcuterie.
700 Central Ave. NE
Reservation for four or more; free parking lot