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8 Reasons You Need to Visit a Supper Club

Charming and relaxed, supper clubs are a foodie haven for lovers of all things vintage. Learn why you need to visit one ASAP.

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Group of diverse friends are having a dinner

We love a good supper club!

With relish trays, deep-fried cheese on the menu and a welcome-home kind of hospitality, this unique restaurant is the celebrators’ destination of choice in the Upper Midwest. Serving fancy foods but never putting on airs, the supper club offers diners special occasion entrees (think prime rib, steaks, and surf and turf) along with signature cocktails like the old fashioned and grasshopper. While you can re-create many of these supper club favorites at home, you’ll learn here that there’s something special about visiting these rural dining destinations.

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Prime rib with horseradishTaste of Home

It’s fancy, but in a relaxed sort of way

You might drop some serious coin on prime rib or lobster tail, but you don’t have to dress up for a supper club dinner. Good attire means clean blue jeans and a shirt with a collar (tucked in, of course). Flannel shirts are just fine in the cold. Ditto for Packers attire, if that’s your thing, or snowpants if you rode in on a Polaris or Ski-Doo.

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Mediterranean appetizers table concept. Platter with antipasto selection, grilled vegetables, olives, nuts and roasted bread. Overhead view.; Shutterstock ID 1124263523; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHLosangela/Shutterstock

Relish trays mean good noshing

Soon after you’re seated, a lazy Susan crammed with odds and ends arrives. A basic one includes crudites, olives, pickled beets and tiny packaged breadsticks. The fancier places offered pre-dinner grazing galore: cheeses, salami, deviled eggs and pickled herring for those who’d dare. Find pickled food ideas such as beets, peppers and mushrooms, to build your own relish tray.

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Deep Fried Cheese BallsRyzhkov Photography/Shutterstock

Three words: Deep. Fried. Cheese.

Few foods elicit more joy than a squeaky bite of freshly made cheddar cheese (trust me on this one). What definitely tops it? Taking said cheese, dipping the curds in beer batter and frying ’em up to crispy molten perfection. When you see fresh cheddar curds on offer at every roadside gas station, you know you’re in supper club country. And deep-fried cheese curds can’t be far away!

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Brandy Old FashionedTaste of Home

Try an old-fashioned old-fashioned

Milk may be the official beverage of Wisconsin, but the brandy old-fashioned sweet just might be the unofficial one. Wisconsinites adore their brandy, and sipping it in an old-fashioned cocktail is the typical start to a supper club dinner.

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Surf & TurfTaste of Home

The surf and turf combo is alive and well

There’s something kinda Mad Men-esque about surf and turf, that vintage menu item that doesn’t make you choose. Why settle on one entree when you can have two? Popular combos include lobster and steak or shrimp and steak (usually tenderloin).

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Pavlova meringue cake with fresh berries on white background; Shutterstock ID 351659969; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHEkaterina Smirnova/Shutterstock

Try a Schaum torte for dessert

Top a hard meringue shell with a scoop of ice cream and sliced sweetened strawberries, and what do you get? Schaum torte! According to the authors of The Joy of Cooking, it’s a Milwaukee original popularized by German immigrants. It’s also a classic supper club dessert. If strawberries aren’t in season, cross your fingers that they’ve got baked Alaska or other vintage treats on the menu.

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Cold Refreshing Mint Chocolate Chip MilkShake with a Straw; Shutterstock ID 178848545; Job (TFH, TOH, RD, BNB, CWM, CM): TOHBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

You can drink your dessert

Grasshoppers, Pink Squirrels, Tom & Jerrys, and other creamy, liquor-kissed, fanciful drinks are all supper club standards. These grown-up milkshakes combine liquor with cream or ice cream for a sweet end to the meal.

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Luxury elegant table setting dinner in a restaurantFotosr52/Shutterstock

It’s a place where time stands still

The supper club is steeped in decades of tradition, and it’s a place where nothing much ever really changes. The foods that were popular in decades past still resonate today. It’s a casual, classic place for marking special occasions and making lasting memories.

Need more convincing to check out a supper club next time you find yourself up north? Check out this documentary or read this book about these fabled restaurants (and start planning your road trip!).

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Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a senior book editor at Taste of Home. A CIA alumna with honors, she creates cookbooks and food-related content. A favorite part of the job is taste-testing dishes. Previous positions include pastry chef at a AAA Five Diamond property. Christine moonlights at a boutique wine shop, where she edits marketing pieces and samples wine far higher than her pay grade.