Why Supper Clubs?

While leisurely making our way to Green Bay one chilly November weekend for Jean’s first Packer game, Jean and I took an overnight detour in Jefferson, WI. Jean wanted to try the nearby Edgewater Supper Club. When you’ve been together as long as Jean and I have, dinner conversation isn’t always as lively as it was when we first started seeing each other. You would have never guessed it seeing us that night. Jean and I spent most of the evening talking about how fascinating the place was. The Edgewater looks like a nondescript roadside tavern from the outside. Upon entering, we felt transported to another place entirely. The interior was cozy and dark, with low ceilings, vaguely maritime themed decor and mismatched chairs and linens. The dining room offers an overlook of the Rock River with the peculiar feature of an old tree stump festooned with party lights. It was all very quirky compared to our expectations of the rural midwest: cornfields, cows, no nonsense people dressed in clothing from the Farm and Fleet. That evening kicked off what became something of a hobby for Jean and I, taking day trips to various areas of Wisconsin and selecting a supper club to dine at.

Part of what makes a supper club so interesting is its stark contrast to contemporary dining culture. There is no deconstructed duck fat carbonara or carbonated mojito spheres to be found here. At a supper club, fine dining still means steaks, chops, and broasted chicken, served with soup or salad and choice of potato. Iceberg lettuce sheds its modern obsolescence and takes center stage at the salad bar. Relish trays served at the beginning of your meal, with crinkle cut carrots and whipped cottage cheese dip, appear as though they leapt from the pages of an atomic age cookbook. We take strange delight in paying upwards of $30 for entrees that are almost ubiquitously unoriginal. And yet every once in a while, the resurrection of dishes which have fallen out of favor create opportunities to try something new, or at least new to diners under the age of 50, such as oysters rockefeller or wedge salad. The atmosphere also draws heavily from 1950s era ideas of fine dining, with linen tablecloths (often protected by a paper barrier) and vinyl upholstered chairs.

We started this blog because it is something that seems like it could be useful to others who see value in the preservation of establishments like these. As we continue to archive our visits throughout the state, we hope that our blog will become an increasingly comprehensive guide to supper clubs in each region of Wisconsin. You can certainly find reviews of supper clubs alongside other types of restaurants from sites across the web. Yet as we hope to make clear, the criteria for a great supper club differs quite a bit from general fine dining. Our blog is a source for reviews of supper clubs by and for people who are seeking the unique experiences they have to offer.


Jean and Owen

Read a brief history of supper clubs, or read more about Wisconsin’s Supper Clubs at Travel Wisconsin, in the New York Times and at WisconsinSupperClubs.net.