You may despise our neighbors to the north when it comes to game days, but let’s be honest: You have a serious soft spot for their indigenous cuisine. Thanks to Brian Reynolds, who owns German beer hall Prost! in Lincoln Park, it’s no longer necessary to cross state lines for your Wisconsin food fix: Millie’s Supper Club (2438 N. Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Park) opens today—and yes, there are fried cheese curds.
As a native Michigander who vacationed in Wisconsin’s Northwoods with his grandparents, Reynolds says Millie’s (named for his grandmother) honors a lifelong affinity for the state’s iconic supper club culture. “Grandma and Grandpa took us camping for a week each summer. One night of that week, we would go to a great supper club,” he says, recalling spreads including relish trays, breadbaskets, big slabs of prime rib, and Kiddie Cocktails. “I went to UW-Madison, where I continued my love affair with supper clubs,” he adds.
At Millie’s, Gilbert Langlois (Chalkboard, Rushmore) whips up renditions of all the classics, such as broasted chicken, wedge salad, shrimp cocktail, and a Friday fish fry. Reynolds expects to become best known for his seasoned, slow-cooked prime rib—offering a 14-ounce Queen cut (a.k.a. “Millie’s Cut”), a 20-ounce King Cut (a.k.a. “Roland Cut”—named in honor of Reynolds’ grandfather), and a hefty two-pound table cut.
“Supper clubs are known for their distinctive bar and dining areas,” Reynolds points out, and Millie’s follows suit. While the 60-seat dining room has a Country Kitchen vibe thanks to wooden accents and maroon tablecloths, the bar sports a vintage vibe with ruby-red, leather-tufted booths, rustic bar stools, and a taxidermied moose head.
Booze is as integral to the meal as food, so Millie’s bar features all the supper club staples. On the menu is the Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet (which gets its sweetness from 7-Up), which “may as well be the state cocktail of Wisconsin,” Reynolds says. Beers run the gamut from Hamm's, Schlitz, and Old Style to (the first sign that you are, in fact, still in present-day Chicago) local microbrews.
For dessert, in addition to pie, there are spiked ice cream drinks, including grasshoppers, pink squirrels, golden Cadillacs, and brandy Alexanders. “After a supper club meal, you head back to the bar for a grasshopper. That's just what you do,” Reynolds says.