Have you ever been to a Wisconsin supper club? If you haven’t, you’re missing a major life experience. Wisconsin supper clubs have a presence in most parts of (duhhh) Wisconsin. Little, sometimes out-of-the-way towns will have good restaurants that feature four course meals: soup; salad; main course; and dessert. And of course there’s the obligatory beverages: beer; spirits; and jug wine (though sometimes one is surprised by a genuine “wine list”).
When you enter a supper club, you usually pass the bar. The trick is – do not pass the bar. Ever. There’s a protocol. In most places, you go to the bar, say hello to the bartender and indicate you would like a table. He (or she) will then give you the once over. Make a mental note that you want a table. And ask if you want a drink. You must always say “yes” to the drink. Or you may still be sitting at the bar at closing time. At some point, a table will open and you’ll be escorted into the dining room. Immediately a relish tray, menus, water, bread and butter will be plopped on your table.
Menus contain the usual assortment of two, four and no-legged protein. My suggestion is go for the fish. Usually perch or walleye. Interestingly walleyed pike from Wisconsin may not be served in Wisconsin. Walleye all comes from Canada. Regulations. . . . Your entree includes mashed or baked potatoes and vegetables (sometimes canned). Soups are usually onion or some “cream of” soup. There’s often a salad bar. Served salads can be disappointing. If that’s the option, have the blue cheese dressing. I mean – what the hay? But the spigot is on — from bar to your table so you may have as much fire water as you want. Dessert is usually a chocolate sundae in a shiny tin cup.
I’ve been to my share of supper clubs – mostly in Door County and Northern Wisconsin. Guide’s Inn in Boulder Junction and Birmingham’s on County B north of Sturgeon Bay are favorites. These are two I would go back to again. And again. And order the fish. . . .