By Mary Bergin
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Supper club names often are a nod to the owner’s name (think Roepke’s), business décor (Five Pillars) or location (Out-o-Town), but here are some exceptions, with a bit more behind the name.
Buck-A-Neer Supper Club – Rozellville
Way back in the 1800s, this property was home to a blacksmith shop. Then it morphed into the Paris Club, a restaurant with dancing girls. A name change to “Buck-A-Neer” began as a way to acknowledge the locals’ love of deer hunting, plus a subsequent twist to play up pirate themes.
New owners, who took over in mid-2016, are building their own legacy by revamping décor (rustic, but classy) and introducing new from-scratch recipes for just about everything (including pickled gizzards and barbecue sauce).
Ding-A-Ling Supper Club – Hanover
It’s "ding-a-ling" whenever somebody arrives, thanks to a bell affixed to the inside of the front door, but the reason why this happens remains a little mystery because the bell ringing began decades ago, under other ownership.
Enjoy the scenic drive to get here and dine while surrounded by farmland (a second Ding-A-Ling, near Mercer, has a different owner). Try the French onion soup, topped with melted mozzarella, a popular meal starter that is homemade.
Talk about getting all your ducks in a row. During Prohibition, customers were advised to quietly "duck in" for an illegal drink or two, but now the name is all about cuisine because the supper club specializes in duck entrees.
Roasted duck arrives with wild rice and mushroom, cherry or orange sauce. The Duck Sampler adds a fourth choice: apple brandy sauce. And the Drunken Duck? The bird is marinated in beer, grilled and delivered with a kiss of teriyaki.
When the owner’s uncle shared a foxhole during World War II combat, his buddy vowed to order the biggest and coldest beer at Gobbler’s Knob, an Indiana bar, if they got out alive. They did, and this supper club near Lake Winnebago was named in honor of that harrowing front-line experience.
Recipes for popular soups – a sweet-sour German potato, chicken dumpling and more – date back to the 1970s. Signature cocktail? That would be the Duck Fart, a strategic mix of Bailey’s, Kahlua and whiskey.
Owners also liked the notion of packing in customers, but there is more. The former Cudahy Packing Company, one of the nation’s largest meat processors, was in the supper club’s neighborhood when it opened in the 1970s.
Still used today are the original fish fry, potato pancake and bacon-wrapped water chestnut (an appetizer) recipes. Most popular dessert is from-scratch banana cream pie, made the same way since its introduction around 1976.
Folks presumed The Roxy was named after the original owner, a guy with a multi-syllable name, until finding a 1940s article referring to him as “Rozy.” Just a typo? It makes for a good debate at the bar.
Sure things – since the beginning – include the open-faced tenderloin dinner, served on toast and topped with onion rings. The comfort food special on Sunday is a choice of ham, chicken, turkey or pork, served with soup, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.
Discover more supper club hot spots and unveil the meaning behind their names by dining with them.