"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)
Monday, March 10, 2014
Goody Goody Diner
5900 Natural Bridge Ave.
St. Louis, Missouri 63120
by Louie Slinger
It's a diner, in an urban, old and rather industrial neighborhood. Connolly's Goody Goody Diner began in a converted root beer stand in 1948, and Richard Connolly has never worked anywhere else. Breakfast all day, six days a week - there's lunch, but their reputation, still growing after all these years, is all about morning food.
The kids have discovered chicken and waffles, and Goody's version is exemplary, the chicken hot and fresh and greaseless, to dab with syrup or not as you eat the waffle underneath. But serious breakfast folks have hard choices, lots of them. Which of fourteen meat options? Which of twelve ways to have them cook your eggs? Pancakes – hotcakes, as the menu styles them – or waffles or French toast? Rice, grits or hash brown potatoes? Omelets? Skillets, a sort of mashup of different things? Or just a breakfast sandwich?
I frequently succumb, though, to the country fried steak – beef pounded, breaded and fried until brown, topped with a milky pan gravy, and some over-easy eggs and grits. Or else it's the Wilbur omelet, their take on a St. Louis tradition, the omelet filled with potatoes, onions, sweet green peppers and tomato, then topped with chili and shredded cheese. (By legend, good for hangovers, better at preventing them.) Or else there's the catfish and American-style biscuits.
Much of the food style is of the soul food/Southern kitchen tradition, but the crowd here is gloriously mixed: mechanics and ministers, tourists and students, police and politicians. Al Gore stopped by during one presidential campaign. Richard Connolly is pretty much always on hand. They do lots of takeaway, and there's often a line, but it's worth waiting for. Study the huge menu while you're waiting, watch the hard-working staff, who really earn their Sundays off, and make sure you take advantage of some first-rate eavesdropping.