The Apostle Supper Club is now open atop Duluth's 52-year-old Radisson hotel. The former J.J. Astor space has been completely redone, but the revolving restaurant still harks back to a different era and offers the best dinner and show in the city.
The new eatery and a forthcoming tiki bar in the hotel's lower level are the work of Brian and Sarah Ingram of Purpose Restaurants. This is their first foray into restaurant ownership outside the Twin Cities; the duo also owns Hope Breakfast Bar in St. Paul and St. Louis Park and the Gnome Craft Pub in St. Paul.
The circular restaurant is iconic to locals. Dining with two Duluthians, they shared stories of the enduring glamour of the space — not to mention the undeniable fun of riding the world's slowest carousel. Leave a purse on the ledge and it will return to the table 72 minutes later, when the restaurant finishes its rotation.
Location: 505 W. Superior St., Duluth, apostlesupperclub.com.
Hours: 5-11 p.m. Sun., Wed.-Thu., 5 p.m.-midnight Fri.-Sat.
The vibe: Emerging from the aging elevator and into the bar gives diners a moment to gain their equilibrium before stepping off the staid space and into the very, very slow-moving dining room.
The interior design is like a trip through the 1990s via the '60s — none if it is exactly era-accurate, but lends the generalized feel of new nostalgia.
The Ingrams flipped the seating so it faces outward. Large lime-green booths curve into the views, giving diners front-row seats to never-ending landscapes. The panorama of the Zenith City unfurls from Enger Tower, tracking Skyline Parkway over to Hillside and eventually over downtown and the water. Coming up on Lake Superior and its breathtaking expanse never gets old, whether you grew up in Duluth or are visiting for the first time. A staff member said that even while they were building the restaurant, the entire crew would stop to marvel every time a ship ducked under the Aerial Lift Bridge, gleefully shouting out "Boat!" to others. And then there's the city of Superior, before the whole rotation begins again.
Service: It's notable that many of the hospitality professionals at Apostle worked at J.J. Astor, the previous occupant. That means the servers are adept at finding tables that are never in the same place.
The food: Brian Ingram's restaurants are built for fun, and even with prices that top out at $85, these dishes mostly lean into the Wisconsin supper club genre. Appetizers include a deviled egg flight ($15) or freshly fried chips with aioli garnished with giardiniera ($6). A Caesar salad ($14) comes as a tower of shredded romaine topped with grated Parmesan cheese and a few anchovies. Entrees are hearty with a $16 smash burger to dill pickle brined fried chicken topped with hot honey ($22) and the aforementioned $85 Yabba Dabba Do, a prehistoric-size beef short rib that would easily feed two people. For the supper club set, there's a Saturday night prime rib special that comes, of course, with au gratins.
Desserts dally in nostalgia, like white cake topped with Jell-O ($10) and a vanilla and chocolate ganache cake ($10) that comes with pour-over hot chocolate sauce ($10). Dessert can come in cocktail form, too, with an ice cream-blended grasshopper ($12) or an indulgent brandy Alexander ($12).
The drinks: The midsection of the menu promises an array of martinis, including dirty or bone-dry with no vermouth. There's a brief selection of nonalcoholic beverages available, but on our visit a few weeks back none were available.
Practice makes perfect: The opportunity to remake this hotel dining experience is a precursor to the Ingrams' second Apostle Supper Club, which will open in St. Paul later this year.