SUPERIOR – The Hammond was not where I imagined my wife and I to be last weekend.
A few weeks ago I had Friday nights off due to a change in work schedule, and my wife, who also has Fridays off, suggested that we spend some time visiting supper clubs in Wisconsin this summer. I remember when she was a girl growing up in Chisago City, Minnesota, she told me about the Dallas House in St. Croix Falls and the popovers they served, and I’ve always wanted to visit a few of those places, but I wanted to add a crease.
“What if you write about it?” asked my wife.
She was OK with me sharing this small part of our lives with her, and with an enthusiastic response from my editor, I set out to define what a supper club is. From my research, there are a few common traits – surf and turf, old-fashioned cocktails on the menu, and a good view.
I also thought the relish tray was a menu staple, but my editor, who I’ve described as “my expert on all things Wisconsin,” said they were “going out of style.” I would raise an eyebrow at this traditional dish, but I don’t like pickles and I’m very unlikely to order a relish tray anyway.
My disdain for cucumbers is such that my cucumber-loving dad once claimed that he and my mom “picked up the wrong baby at the hospital.”
Before I get back to the Hammond, a couple of comments about this column. I’m not a food critic and I don’t rate these restaurants and I’m certainly not trying to make fun of them or anyone but maybe myself.
So Hammond. I didn’t want to start this little adventure here. Despite being on my list of places to visit, it felt like an unimaginative place to start. You should drive a bit and look for some of these places, right?
After a big trip the previous weekend—ending in Waukesha, Wisconsin—we were tired of exploring.
So we ended up at the Hammond and I have to tell you I loved it. From the cinema carpets to the people enjoying themselves at the bar, I had a great time and it was what I was looking for on my first stop.
The prime rib was amazing…although the waitress forgot to give me a steak knife. I only mention it to tell this little story.
I don’t drink much, but on this particular night I was two deep walking into the Hammond and two-thirds of the way through my old-fashioned by the time I got my dinner.
My wife and I both take our time to prepare our baked potatoes. In fact, she said she “knew I was the one for her” when she realized I spend more time working on my potato than she does.
In all the prep work I didn’t realize I didn’t have a steak knife with me, and since I’m almost sober I started sawing through this beautiful piece of meat with a butter knife.
I look up and my wife has this look – steak knife in hand – that says, “What on earth are you doing?”
So we started sharing her lonely steak knife until our waitress came back and dutifully brought me a steak knife.
A few more thoughts on the Hammond. That wasn’t the Hammond’s fault, but I have a feeling it must be dark outside if you’re visiting. We went at 6:30pm in May – that wasn’t planned. My 80’s brain also feels like a nice thick plume of smoke should be about 8 feet off the ground, but we live in healthier times.
What my wife and I got was two beautiful pieces of prime rib and, I wouldn’t call it a “cheap night out,” but we paid less than $65 — with tip — for our meal. That was a $100 dinner where we lived 10 years ago.
What I felt could have been a more creative choice ended up being the right one. I want to search and be on the lookout for obscure and different types of supper clubs. The Hammond’s Spot at the foot of the Blatnik Bridge, although probably a spot familiar to most readers of this column, seems symbolic.
Before venturing any further onto US 2 or 53, I stopped at the one supper club that has been staring me in the face for 10 years.
My wife and I have absolutely no regrets about our choice.