The Butterfly Club, Beloit, Wisconsin
Rating: 5+ out of 5 Old Fashioneds, in the running for our all-time favorite supper club
Relish Tray: no
Ice Cream Drinks: absolutely
Price Range: about $11 to about $30
Ambiance: perfectly retro, perfectly teal, a perfect lounge, a perfect supper club
The Butterfly Club is a special place for me and Owen. For years we’ve been making the trek down to the Butterfly Club for my birthday, and it’s even where we got engaged. I have a lot of good memories there, and any review of it I ever write will have all that coloring my perspective. But I also think the Butterfly Club is special.
Last year, on our annual visit for my birthday, we were talking about why the Butterfly Club is so, so good. Owen said, “I feel cheated that something like this is so rare nowadays.” It’s not just a ‘Wisconsin Supper Club’ with excellent food (and even better drinks). It’s all of that, and also an amazing, nostalgic lounge, complete with a lounge singer and regulars who come to dance.
The lounge. It’s everything.
The teal everything. The large wrap around bar. The mirrored ceiling. The multiple levels. The little cocktail tables with armchairs.
Every time we come to the Butterfly Club, it seems like someone is celebrating something. Heck, we’re usually there because we’re celebrating something. Perpetually, in my head at least, there’s a group sitting in the large circular booth area in the lounge celebrating a 40th anniversary.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, I should at least mention the supper part of the supper club.
The teal atmosphere continues to the two large dining rooms. The dining rooms don’t have quite the same charm as the lounge, though the large mirrors and lights of yester-year add a nice touch. Once we had the pleasure of being sat at one of the tables right up against the mirror.
While there’s not a relish tray, all the other supper club standards are there – and they’re all done well. The bread basket is piled high with the best of all bread basket-worlds: homemade rolls, the fancy prepackaged breadsticks, and cinnamon rolls. The side salad comes on the supper club standard glass cabbage-leaf plate. I know it’s not true, but for me, the glass cabbage leaf plate just makes the salad taste better. And don’t worry, there’s often two full dishes of butter packets at the table.
Every time we’ve been to the Butterfly Club, the food has been excellent. We often like to start with the Oysters Rockefeller. It’s one of those dishes that harkens back to a different time period, much like the Butterfly itself.
Owen standard order is the Shrimp De Jonghe, a house speciality. Originally from Chicago, Shrimp De Jonghe is sort of like a shrimp casserole. The shrimp is cooked with onions, mushrooms and cheese in a puff pastry shell. It’s a cheesy dream, brightened with fresh thyme and lemon.
I’m much more likely to sample new dishes on the menu. All of the classic steakhouse items I’ve tried have been great – the prime rib, the filet mignon, you name it. Last time, I tried the ribeye and shrimp skewer. The shrimp were so roasty and delicious that I even ate the tails!
Once we’re plenty full of meat and cheesy potatoes, we waddle back to the bar to catch the show. Every weekend, the Butterfly Club has a live lounge singer, most often Mike Williamson. Imagine, sipping on a martini in a lounge while a true crooner serenades the crowd. And the atmosphere does demand a martini over our usual old fashioneds. Insider tip: you can ask for the special olives stuffed with bleu cheese for an extra 25 cents.
Mike Williamson has the relaxed confidence of a veteran performer. For some songs, he roams through the crowd, checking on each table with a “How you folks doing tonight?” or a “Martinis, huh? Try it with an anchovy next time” between songs (sometimes even between lines of songs). He and his band take requests, and they seem to be able to play anything – Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Bill Withers. Once, someone requested “Puff the Magic Dragon” at the end of the night, and Mike sang it with gusto.
Of course, when there’s singing like this, there’s dancing. When was the last time you visited a restaurant with a permanent dance floor? Owen loves to dance, so we always make it onto the floor for at least a couple songs. Owen has plenty of enthusiasm, but neither of us really know anything aside from a few basic steps. That’s not the case for many other dancers at the Butterfly – there’s usually a lot of experienced dancers on the floor!
Most recently, we celebrated the new year at the Butterfly Club. We had heard on a previous visit that they throw a New Year’s Eve party with Mike Williamson, Rick Burns (keys), Bob DeVita (drums), John Smarzuski (Sax, Clarinet) and special guest Patte Armato Lund (vocals). All that, plus fireworks – we knew we couldn’t miss it.
The Butterfly Club always looks good, but on New Year’s Eve it was something special. There were so many balloons everywhere. Mike Williamson and company were excellent, as always. Right before midnight, someone came around handing out noisemakers and party hats. The whole place rang in the new year with a champagne toast while Mike and Patti sang “Auld Lang Syne” and “Celebrate”. There’s no other way we would want to celebrate a new year, a new decade than in this place at the event so reminiscent of yester-year.
See you soon, Butterfly Club. Thanks for the memories.