Take your time.
At supper clubs, that’s the maxim de jour. The once-prominent restaurant model has diminished over the years under the crush of franchise foods and trendy urban eateries, but it persists with savory fare in Jordan amid live music, relish trays and ice cream cocktails.
Supper clubs have various definitions, but generally invite patrons to linger and converse after finishing their meals. Few restaurants choose to uphold that tradition, but on Friday and Saturday evenings at the Jordan Supper Club it comes to life.
The club invites patrons to stick around after dinner to enjoy cocktails and entertainment while socializing with the staff and other diners.
“It’s kind of intimate in here,” manager Ryan Stern said. “The lights are dimmed and the music is usually geared to what we call ‘Rat Pack.’ ”
Chef Erik O’Connell likens the experience to a four-course meal. “It’s the type of meal you typically see only on Christmas, Thanksgiving or Easter,” O’Connell said.
Accordingly, when people dine at the supper club, they tend to dress up and generally visit on special occasions. Perhaps that explains why they struggle to survive.
“If you look in the area, there used to be supper clubs around,” O’Connell said. “I used to live 10 miles away from a supper club in Le Sueur, but then it went out with all the other supper clubs [in the area].”
A meal at the Jordan Supper Club consists of several courses, but it always starts with a relish tray. The traditional appetizer consists of celery sticks, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower served with hummus and ranch dressing. Diners then move on to plates that include supper club staples like prime rib, baked potatoes and bread pudding.
“What I missed about going to supper clubs before was that you were never rushed,” O’Connell said. “You never felt like someone was waiting for your table. You’re there to enjoy your company and the people around you.”
After enjoying the culinary cabaret, diners who sup at the supper club typically quaff a cocktail or port wine. Though the old-fashioned and the Manhattan remain popular digestifs, the ice-cream-based grasshopper, golden Cadillac and pink squirrel complete the nightcap at the Jordan Supper Club.
“These are the older drinks that were really popular,” Stern said. “They’re not offered in many places because they are labor-intensive drinks.”
But, like the supper club, ice cream cocktails have nostalgic appeal.
“Every time I make one, they go ‘My mom used to make that!’ These people are in their mid-60s,” bar manager Justen Thelen said.
Stern recognizes it’s not for everyone. Those seeking more modern cuisine served at a faster pace can visit the Jordan Tap Room next door. The taproom helps management keep the supper club open, Stern said, and that serves the patrons of both establishments.
“People come just to see a supper club,” Stern said.
Gabriel Sanchez is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.