Supper clubs. A dining experience I first only really heard of upon moving to the Midwest. It seems to be an antiquated thing with an atmosphere that can be defined simply by referring to the not-so-antique television show Mad Men. The best definition I’ve found is from the Chicago Tribune’s post that aims to define Wisconsin’s supper club culture:
A Wisconsin supper club is an independently owned, fine-dining destination restaurant, typically in a picturesque locale on the edge of town. The menu comes from yesteryear, void of pretense and decidedly non-froufrou — prime rib, broiled white fish, shrimp cocktail — with enough complimentary sides and trimmings to satisfy a second meal … If you leave hungry, you have not dined in a supper club.
Seeing as I’m not really an “edge of town” kind of gal, I opted to go for a hybrid of contemporary and classic – Supper, a modern take on the typical supper club on the East Side of Milwaukee. The restaurant is located in the historical Shorecrest Hotel which was owned by Frank Balistrieri, the ring leader of the 1960s Milwaukee Mafia. While the decor and tradition of a typical supper club persist, the menu was refreshing and could easily hold its own alongside some of the more contemporary establishments.
While it’s customary to begin with a relish tray, we opted for the wedge salad (pictured above). The wedge salad was the perfect, light first course to our hearty meal. The roasted tomato gave it a hint of sweetness and I loved the buttermilk dressing as I’m not much of a blue cheese fan.
The second starter that caught our eye (and stomach) was the steak tartare. Steak tartare is one of those things you either love or hate, there’s no real middle ground for raw beef topped with an uncooked egg yolk. I will say that I’m on the love side of the spectrum and always order it if found on the menu. At Supper, they let the steak do the talking with a non-overpowering pinch of salty capers. The garlic aioli was icing on the cake, er meat.
Next up, we ordered mussels. If you order mussels regularly, you know it’s not for the mussels themselves but for the rich, buttery (usually garlic) sauce. The white wine sauce paired with this dish was lightly creamy which made it even more appetizing. And I must say, adding in crispy potatoes is a one-of-a-kind, smashing idea. Pro tip: always ask for additional crostini pieces or bread, you’ll definitely need them to soak up all the sauce.
Round four of small plates was the potato gnocchi which is made in-house. With a hint of hazelnut, the gnocchi was delightful on its own, but Supper placed them atop a plate of hearty bolognese sauce that was absolute perfection.
For the main course, we went all in with a traditional bone-in ribeye. It was quite difficult to decide between the various entrees so I chose based on the sides since, you know, carbs are the real star of any meal. The ribeye came with a potato puree and glazed carrots, and I definitely could have enjoyed 16oz of each side as well.
Although they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day it can be argued that Supper is just as important, and if not tastier. Dinner at Supper is clearly a classic, and a must dine while in Milwaukee.