Both Minnesotans and Wisconsinites lay claim, culturally, to the concept of the supper club. And no matter where you stand on the debate, one thing is certain: Minneapolis now has the upper hand.
The addition of a neighborhood restaurant that oozes simple midcentury charm doesn't feel new at all. Rather, the Creekside Supper Club & Lounge joins a long tradition of down-to-earth roadside destinations, where the steaks are big, the Old Fashioneds flow and a settled-in kind of comfort reigns supreme.
Location: 4820 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-3675, creeksidemn.com. Open 4-10 p.m. Tue.-Wed. and Sun., and 4 p.m.-midnight Thu.-Sat. With the Parkway Theater next door and the new cocktail bar Sidecar two doors down, plus Town Hall Tap, Herbie Butcher's Fried Chicken, Turtle Bread Co. and more, 48th and Chicago is one of south Minneapolis' most vibrant intersections.
The vibe: It's "Mad Men" — Midwestern-style. With decor that teeters on the edge of kitsch without going full camp, the Creekside checks every box of an Up North dinner destination. There are wood-paneled walls, wine-red carpet, roomy booths, a ducks-in-the-reeds mural, porcelain trinkets, a deer head behind the bar, a stuffed walleye over the fireplace — and the biggest eye-catcher of them all, a babbling fountain of a rock formation.
The owners call the place "fancy for a farmer," just like the rural restaurants in Minnesota and Wisconsin they grew up with, only you probably won't find many of those farmers here. Just neighborhood folks looking for an unpretentious night out.
The food: Familiar to those weekend motorists who make supper clubs a destination, the menu at the Creekside stays true to the classics. Chef Grant Halsne is overseeing the kitchen, which turns out reliable steaks and chops (note the stainless-steel trays and no-frills garnish of a parsley sprig tucked into the center of a beet-red pickled apple).
One of Halsne's triumphs is his seven variations on the humble potato. The plate-sized hash browns that came under a divine short rib ($32) were a crispy dream. A twice-baked potato — toasted on the outside and creamy within — along with a sprawling rib-eye ($39) was a favorite combination at a recent visit. As was the fish fry ($17-$29), which comes with your choice of golden-crusted fish and a mountain of shoestring fries. The perch, said co-owner Eli Wollenzien, "has gone viral."
Popovers ($8) and an elaborate relish tray ($19) are the obvious starters, but allow yourself to get more adventurous with mussels in a luxurious Champagne sauce ($15) or grilled shrimp cocktail in a yogurt-chili sauce ($16).
Drinks: You'll find three kinds of Old Fashioneds, naturally, and Korbel brandy is the not-so-secret ingredient in a number of the classic supper club cocktails ($8-$11). Yes, there's a Brandy slush, and a "Dairyland" section with four blended ice cream cocktails. The mint-green Grasshopper ($8), a gateway cocktail for newly legal drinkers if there ever was one, is as cooling, sweet and whimsical as you remember.
Going the extra mile: Even the menu is wood-paneled at the Creekside, which takes every opportunity to play with the theme. Guests and employees are contributing their own trinkets and tchotchkes to join the porcelain kittens and ceramic turtles, taxidermy and family photos. On your way out, grab a branded matchbook with a map of the neighborhood printed inside. As for the fountain, sure to be the backdrop of countless selfies, take a penny from a loon figurine at the host stand and make a wish.