A “supper club” can be a difficult thing to define, especially by someone who has grown up or lived in the Midwest. It is ingrained in our culture! To many people, a supper club is a feeling, an environment, and of course good, local food. In general, supper clubs have a few characteristics. They have small menus, usually focused on steak, fish and seafood, and large bars. Many people will start and end their dining experience at the bar. The atmosphere is homey, old-timey, and cozy. The important part is that these are not chain restaurants. They are locally owned by families, sometimes for several generations. They are established in the community and are places for everyone to gather, especially on a Friday night. The food is also locally sourced and the menu will consist of many homemade items. Here is a useful interview that described the origins and development of the Wisconsin Supper Club culture:
Here is another interesting article by Channel 300 that shows how the supper club has changed over time, and continues to evolve: https://www.channel3000.com/the-modern-supper-club-in-madison/
Toby’s Supper Club: 3717 S Dutch Mill Rd, Madison, WI 53718
“Bustling destination for diners seeking simple American fare, cocktails & daily specials.”
Classic supper club dinner comes with rolls, a relish tray, and cinnamon rolls.
Friday night fish fry and fried chicken are the stars!
Kavanaugh’s Esquire Club: 1025 N Sherman Ave, Madison, WI 53704
“Family-run eatery plating steaks, seafood & Saturday breakfast in homey digs since 1947.”
Great selection of seafood and steak, and a Friday special of All You Can Eat Cod.
Springer’s: 3097 Sunnyside St, Stoughton, WI 53589
“Seafood & pub grub offered in a laid-back dockside grill with patio seating & a pool table.”
Daily homemade soup and Friday night fish fry!
Tucked away on the lake for a country supper club feel.
Mariner's Inn : 5339 Lighthouse Bay Dr, Madison, WI 53704
“Old-fashioned, casual waterfront eatery with classic steak & seafood dishes, family-run since 1966.”
Claim to fame is their seafood, or create your own surf and turf plate!
Rex’s Innkeeper: 301 N Century Ave, Waunakee, WI 53597
“Retro American supper club for steaks & seafood in old-time digs with a garden & banquet room.”
Prime rib and a great salad bar is their claim to fame!
Unique setting in an old-time castle style building.
The Hilltop: 4173 Co Hwy P, Cross Plains, WI 53528
“A true Wisconsin Supper Club nestled atop a rolling hill, just minutes from Madison, WI. Enjoy a cozy and comfortable dining experience with Frank Sinatra music echoing in the background.”
Featuring Friday fish fry and Sunday brunch!
Delaney’s Steak, Seafood and Wine: 449 Grand Canyon Dr, Madison, WI 53719
“Long-running white-tablecloth steakhouse with traditional fare, including seafood, plus many wines.”
Known for award-winning steaks, prime rib, and chops.
You will notice a lot of the descriptions written by the restaurant include either something about being family-run or the enticing environment to come and stay awhile. The supper club experience is a destination, it is an evening to take your time, enjoy the company of others, and drink some Old Fashioneds. The way a supper club looks has changed many times over the years, and there are even a few variations just on this small list. But the Midwestern, locally thriving, good ol’ time will always be inside a supper club.