Lifestyle

All About Wisconsin Supper Club Culture

Supper clubs are an iconic mainstay of Wisconsin, filled with comfort food and good conversation.

All About Wisconsin Supper Club Culture

Wisconsin supper clubs aren’t just restaurants—they’re a lifestyle. It’s all about slow food enjoyed with people you love (and a Wisconsin Old Fashioned, of course). Filled with nostalgia, twinkling string lights, and classic American fare with a healthy serving of Wisconsin Cheese, when you walk in, you’ll feel like you’re right at home.

Don’t worry if you can’t make it to Wisconsin quite yet, you can still partake in the supper club experience! To learn about supper club culture and how to recreate some of their famously rich dishes right at home, scroll down below.

What is a Wisconsin Supper Club?


Supper clubs are a cornerstone of Wisconsin culture. These long-established fine-dining restaurants are almost as much about community and conversation as they are food!

Dimly lit and lovingly kitschy, when you enter a Wisconsin supper club you can expect luxurious comfort food in generous portions—with a whole lot of Wisconsin Cheese.

3 Elements of Supper Club Culture

Ambiance


When you step into a traditional supper club, prepare to travel back in time to the ‘60s. Expect dark, moody lighting and wood paneling. Sink into plush furniture—maybe even a velvet semi-circle booth—channel your inner Don Draper, and enjoy. 

Drinks


Every good supper club evening starts with a drink and a toast. For the classic supper club tipple, order a brandy Old Fashioned—Wisconsin’s unofficial state drink.

To make this drink, a maraschino cherry is muddled with an orange slice, sugar cube, and bitters, then topped with brandy and a splash of soda. It’s strong enough to cut through a hearty dinner with enough citrusy brightness to balance it out.

Relish Trays


This supper club staple is a must; every respectable establishment starts off with a relish tray. It’s like an appetizer to your appetizer. While each relish tray is different, expect to have a creamy cheese spread accompanied by assorted crackers and fresh or pickled vegetables. 
 

Famous Wisconsin Supper Clubs

Wisconsin is home to more than 200 traditional supper clubs, so whether you’re planning a special meal or just passing through on a road trip, it’s worth making a stop!

Walk into any one of the Badger state’s establishments and you’re sure to have an evening to remember. Here are a few of our favorite trendy spots:

Elias Inn, Watertown: Make sure to try the cheese spread for a burst of cheesy flavor.

Five O' Clock Steakhouse, Milwaukee: The crab mac and cheese is a must-have.

HOBNOB, Racine: Order the French Onion Soup—bon appetit!

Ishnala, Wisconsin Dells: Be sure to try the prime rib spears

Rocky’s, Stoddard: The batter-fried cheese curds are warm, melty, and perfectly squeaky.

Smoky’s Club, Madison: Get the cheese-topped beef tenderloin for an ultra-decadent meal.

The Hilltop, Cross Plains: You won't regret ordering the cheese ball

Supper Club-Inspired Recipes to Try at Home

Steaks with Port Wine Sauce and Gorgonzola


This rich dish is packed full of flavor—it’s comfort food, elevated. Deeply savory spice-rubbed beef tenderloin is paired with a fruity, slightly sweet cherry and port wine sauce, and topped with bold gorgonzola crumbles.

With every bite, you’ll feel like you’re nestled into the corner booth of a classic supper club.

Hook’s Gorgonzola: This strong, tangy blue-veined cheese is potent enough to compete with all the other flavors in this dish. And it’s got the credentials to boot; Hook’s Cheese Company won 2nd place in the World Cheese Championship with this gorgonzola.

Get the recipe for our Steaks with Port Wine Sauce and Gorgonzola.

Parmesan-Crusted Walleye


When you’re in the mood for a slightly lighter main dish that doesn’t skimp on flavor or cheese, give this Parmesan-Crusted Walleye a try. A crisp, buttery panko coating is mixed with Wisconsin parmesan, which gives an additional layer of nutty, caramelized flavor.

Each bite is crunchy yet tender; light but filling. It’s a dish full of beautiful contradictions. 

Nordic Creamery Parmesan: This parmesan has all of the nutty, sharp flavors of aged parmesan, with the creaminess and mild flavor of a younger cheese. Grated into a panko coating or just eaten on its own, this Nordic Creamery’s Parmesan is always a great choice.

Cheese Fact: Wisconsin leads the production of award-winning parmesan cheese in the U.S.! To learn all about Wisconsin parmesan, check out our Cheese Lover’s Guide to Parmesan.

 Get the recipe for our Parmesan-Crusted Walleye.

Wisconsin-Style French Onion Soup


Caramelizing onions takes a little bit of time, but it’s oh-so-worth-it when you take a bite of this cheesy, savory, hearty soup. French Onion Soup is a staple menu item at pretty much any Wisconsin supper club, and now you can recreate it at home!

We topped ours off with brick cheese, but it’s equally delicious with mozzarella, parmesan, swiss, or even provolone

Blaser’s Mild Wisconsin Brick: Born right here in Wisconsin, brick cheese is mild, creamy, and slightly sweet. When broiled for just a minute or two, it melts into the soup for an eye-catching presentation.

Recipe Tip: Brick cheese ranges in flavor depending on how long it’s been aged. When young, brick cheese is mild and sweet, but give it some time and you’ll discover a more complex, tangy, even pungent cheese! Aged brick is even sometimes referred to as the “married man’s limburger.”

Get the recipe for our Wisconsin Style French Onion Soup here.

Conclusion

If all this talk of supper has gotten you hungry for a cheese tasting, you can get Wisconsin’s finest cheeses delivered right to your door with our continuously updated list of cheesemakers and retailers that allow you to order cheese online. Award-winning Wisconsin Cheese is just a click away. To learn more about Wisconsin supper clubs, head over to our Winter 2021 issue of Grate.Pair.Share

Craving something else? Choose from our selection of over 400 recipes featuring Wisconsin Cheese. Don’t forget to share your creative cheesy creations with us on Facebook and Instagram.

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