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Supper Clubs

What Is A Supper Club?

Google “supper club” and you will get over six hundred million results. You’ll encounter definitions like: “In most cases, these restaurants are only open for the supper hour” and “The proliferation of supper clubs really began after World War II,” “A Wisconsin supper club is an independently owned, fine-dining destination restaurant, typically in a picturesque locale on the edge of town”. There are many, many more definitions!

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From The Chicago Tribune, In An Article Circa 2011

Ishnala Old Fashion
Old Fashions at Ishnala Supper Club – Photo by Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

(Follow this link), you’ll see “The phrase ‘supper club’ isn’t indigenous to the Badger State, but few other people embrace it with such civic reverence.” So, how do we explain it? “Supper clubs are associated with road trips and vacations, with many restaurants overlooking a lake or forest clearing, situated on the outskirts of town, or located in some out-of-the-way place. Loyalties to a supper club span many generations.”

There are many more aspects that apply, like “Friday, all you can eat fish fry”, “relish tray”, “Old Fashioned cocktail” (made with brandy). How about ” large steaks, duck, chicken, fish, and seafood?”

Supper clubs typically top their tables with tablecloths (as opposed to paper placemats), silverware, glassware and often a candle. There are more booths than tables, and supper clubs are definitely not “chains”.

supper club sign
Ishnala: Voted Wisconsin’s#1 Supper Club – Photo by Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

Midwest Kind of Phenomena

They are independently owned, often for several generations by the same family. Oh, and there are usually some sort of signature appetizers and signature bread, rolls, or popovers. In general, if you order an entrée, you get all the above-mentioned goodies included with your dinner!

supper club sign
Dining room with windows looking out on Mirror Lake at Ishnala

Supper clubs are pretty much, typically, a Midwest kind of phenomena. Folks in other states have long attempted to copy the model, but just can’t seem to get it right. You’ll find the very best versions right here in Wisconsin.

Although it’s not located here in Rice Lake, I recently had the opportunity to stop in the Wisconsin Dells on business. Located there is one of the finest examples of a supper club I know: Ishnala. Located on a bluff and overlooking the scenic shores of Mirror Lake, Ishnala Supper Club has a long and rich history of assiduous service, excellent cocktails, tasty appetizers, sumptuous entrées and eye-popping desserts. And talking about cocktails? Ishnala mixes and sells close to 100,000 Old Fashioned cocktails every year!

So, What’s On the Menu at Ishnala?

The menu is chock-full of super selections. After all, what would a supper club be without some awesome dinner choices? Although it would probably be best if I sent you to their menu, briefly, I can tell you that there are:

  • at Least 10 specialty cocktail selections
  • a dozen or so appetizers
  • about 20 entrées (including seafood, aged beef, duck, chicken, lamb & pork), and
  • numerous delicious desserts!
shrimp cocktail
Shrimp Cocktail at Ishnala Supper Club – Photo by Yvonne Carpenter-Ross

Ishnala has just about everything one might ask of a supper club. There is excellent food – and large portions of it – an incredible view from every table (there were 42 tables until the Pandemic took away 11 of them), a total of three bars at which to order your favorite beverage, and so much more!

The only thing missing is a salad bar… And I would have to assume that management would prefer not to have people making trips to a salad bar; the place is just way too busy! Besides, all portions are large, including the salads!

This was our first visit to Ishnala, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I can pretty much guarantee it will not be our last! Located just minutes from downtown Wisconsin Dells, Ishnala is definitely a “don’t miss” dining experience!


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Visit Rice Lake Design Team

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We became full-time residents of the City of Rice Lake in 2021. It has been our goal and desire to contribute and give back to the City in a manner that will be as helpful as possible. It is also our goal to dedicate our efforts – and a steadily progressing and growing website – to the people and businesses of Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

Yvonne & Richard