From Wisconsin Adventures
: 5 Super Supper Clubs by Judith Berger
Supper clubs may have started in California, but they have their roots in Wisconsin. Lawrence Frank, a Milwaukee native, is credited with opening the first supper club in Beverly Hills in the 1920s.
The classic supper club usually has a swanky bar adjacent to the dining room where a customer can order a Brandy Old Fashioned (Sweet or Sour) and socialize. Supper clubs tend to be outside of town, near a lake or resort area, with a menu of steak, chops, chicken and baked fish with the accompanying soup, salad, potato and relish tray. A supper club wouldn’t be authentic in Wisconsin if it doesn’t serve a Friday fish fry.
According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, Frank is credited with coining the term “doggie bag” – the package that went home with customers containing food served but not eaten by his all-too-full customers. So the next time you leave a restaurant with a “doggie bag,” think of the iconic supper club. Here are five that live up to the moniker.
800 Wisconsin Dells Parkway, Lake Delton
(608) 253-1861, 866-888-1861 www.del-bar.com
This supper club was named to honor the hometowns – Delton and Baraboo – of the original owners. Jeff Wimmer currently owns Del-Bar, situated just 2 ½ miles south of the Wisconsin Dells. It is the prime Angus steak that draws guests to this destination spot. “All our steaks are prime grade from certified Angus beef,” Wimmer says. Entrees that include filet mignon, Midwest walleye, wild salmon and jumbo shrimp are served with freshly baked rolls; a choice of baked, mashed or hash brown potatoes or rice pilaf; and a green or spinach salad with hot bacon dressing. Friday fish fry is served. Open daily at 4:30 p.m.
Ray Radigan's Restaurant
11712 Sheridan Rd., Pleasant Prairie
(262) 694-0455 www.foodspot.com/rayradigans
“We are one of the last roadhouses – maybe in the country,” says manager Linda Bauer. “We are truly a destination spot.” Opened in 1933, this supper club makes everything from scratch – from salad dressings to pie crusts. There’s not a heat lamp or microwave on the premises. The menu includes Lake Superior whitefish either pan-fried or broiled (“people come from all over the country to have it”) as well as veal, roast duckling, dry-aged steaks and calves’ liver. Dinner includes potato or rice pilaf, soup – vegetable-beef is the restaurant’s signature soup – or salad and rolls. Desserts include banana cream pie, coconut cream pie and strawberry shortcake with homemade baking powder biscuits. Open Tuesday through Sunday.
Toby’s Supper Club
3717 S. Dutch Mill Road, Madison
(608) 222-6913 www.tobyssupperclub.com
This supper club has its roots in Prohibition and has been family-owned for 40 years, says owner Roxanne Peterson. Guests come from all over the area for the lake perch, blue gill, and pan-fried chicken. Additional menu items include steaks and shrimp. Entrees are served with the classic lineup: a relish tray of carrots, onions, celery, radishes and pickles; a bread basket, which includes cinnamon rolls Monday through Thursday; your choice of soup or salad; and your choice of vegetables or potatoes. (Hint: the homemade hash browns are a “customer favorite.”) Open Monday through Saturday with service starting at 5 p.m.
7228 S. 27 St., Oak Creek
(414) 761-2222 www.rafters-milwaukee.com
The Rafters has been in the Dimiceli family since 1960. Steaks, ribs and chops are grilled to order at a charcoal pit in the middle of the dining room. The traditional relish tray of carrots, celery, radishes and pickles welcomes diners at the table. Each entrée includes bread and butter; a choice of salad or cottage cheese; and a choice of French fries, hash browns, baked potato or pasta. "Our filets and New York strip steaks are the favorites with our customers," says general manager Marie Rose. "We serve a lot food, so many people don't even get to dessert. But we have delicious cheesecake – and people love our ice cream drinks." Open Tuesday through Sunday with service starting at 3 p.m. Sunday, 4 p.m. the rest of the week.
High Shores Supper Club
17985 County Highway X, Chippewa Falls
(715) 723-9854 www.highshores.com
On the shores of Lake Wissota, this supper club offers beautiful surroundings and an extensive menu that includes stuffed filet mignon, tiger shrimp, walleye and barbecue pork ribs. Entrees come with a trip to the huge soup and salad bar that stocks warm rolls and garlic toast. Dinners also come with a choice of potato – baked, French fries, hash browns, au gratin and a la Dutch. The Dutch potato is a customer favorite, says co-owner Diane Schroeder (with husband Dennis). “It’s a kind of double-baked but served in a bowl not in the skin.” The dessert tray offers six different kinds of cheesecake. Friday fish fry and a Sunday champagne breakfast buffet are served. Open 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays Jan. 1 through April 1.
Judith Berger is a freelance writer based in West Allis. Content produced in cooperation with Wisconsin Trails, www.Wisconsintrails.com.
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