Wisconsin Supper Clubs--An Old Fashioned Experience
They're a destination for some. A passion for others.
There's nothing like a good old fashioned Wisconsin supper club, and if you aren't spending enough time in your favorite one, there are two ways to bask in the experience without having to get off your couch or deal with an unwieldy relish tray.
Ray Faiola did a documentary on the uniquely Wisconsin experience a few years ago and now published an accompanying book. You can find out more on his website.
50 supper clubs made the cut in Faiola's book out of some 250 originally under consideration. His definition: family owned, with home made food. No lunches or breakfast. The aforementioned relish tray is a must. To paraphrase what he told me in an on-air interview this week, you know you're in a supper club when you're in one.
We all have our favorites, and we often refer to them not by proper name or owner but rather by where they're located--so it was with us and one of our Sheboygan area favorites, St. Anna. At least, that's what we always called it. The proper name is Schwartz Supper Club, located in a tiny burg west of Kiel and north of the Sheboygan Marsh. I haven't been there for years, but I can still picture the inside, as well as the taste of that first old-fashioned as your study the menu at the bar.
And yes, there's a relish tray. In an acknowledgement to our modern times, there's also a Schwartz Supper Club website.
Not all supper clubs are tucked away at rural intersections or remote lakeside vistas up north--there's Eve's in Green Bay. A bar buddy turned me on to it a few years ago when my daughter was still attending St. Norbert's in nearby De Pere. It's on the fourth level of what would pass for a Green Bay skyscraper along the Fox River and it's as back-woods country club as you could hope for.
And yes, there's a relish tray. In the past, retired Packers running back Paul Hornung would make Eve's a game-day destination, signing copies of his books from a post in front of the dining room. Don't know if he still does it so don't curse me if you show up before kickoff some fall afternoon and he's not there. There's another supper club in the Green Bay area that my daughter's in-laws took us to--it's south of DePere, a little bit out in the boonies but the name escapes me.
Not sure if it fits the pure definition of "supper club" but we used to spend a lot of nights noshing on the broasted chicken at Klemme's Wagon Wheel in Howards Grove. It's family-owned, and a website says they don't do lunch or breakfast--at least they didn't back in the day.
And yes, there's a relish tray. At least, there was.
Here in town we have the Jackson Grill in the shadows of Miller Park which bills itself as "Milwaukee's Supper Club". And Joe Bartolotta is dipping into the waters with a pair of Joey Gerard's with locations in Greendale and Mequon. They opened within the past year.
I'm sure you have your favorites, and this would be a good place to share them. No destination too far. No prime rib too large. No foil-baked potato too hot.
Just be sure to pass the relish tray.