Parents who moved to Connecticut.
Sister and brother-in-law two hours away in Madison.
A legendary supper club tucked away on a quiet lake.
A Friday night when we’re all free and in the same state.
Those stars aligning equaled a four hour drive through a hail storm just to have dinner.
My mother happens to be quite the supper club connoisseur. If you’re not familiar with supper clubs think relish trays, prime rib and potatoes, a brandy old-fashioned, and ice cream drinks. Stepping into a supper club is a bit like stepping back into time but unfortunately Frank Sinatra isn’t serenading you while you glance over the menu.
A few years ago, we promised to take my mom to Ishnala in the Wisconsin Dells as a gift for Mother’s Day. The supper club is tucked away down a winding, wooded road and situated on a quiet lake. You really feel like you’re stepping into a remote forest when in reality you’re only 5 minutes from water parks and an outlet mall.
I’m not joking when I say that Friday night was the first time all six of us were in Wisconsin, without previous plans, and the restaurant was open since we gifted her a night out for dinner.
My husband and I left work early only to get stuck in rush hour traffic and the general exodus of cars that were making their way to the northwoods for the weekend. Oh, and that little hail storm around Madison that made July look like January complete with “snow” on the roofs and roads. In total, we spent four hours in the car with a two hour break in between for dinner. To put that into perspective, we could’ve driven to the upper peninsula of Michigan with about 40 minutes to spare in the same amount of time.
We finally made it to Ishanala and a brandy old fashioned has never tasted so good.
Celebrating my sister’s birthday and Mother’s Day (2 years in the making!), we went all out. Go big or go home.
I’m talking homemade cheese spread and crackers.
Jumbo fried shrimp.
Tenderloin medallions with mushrooms, brandy, and blue cheese.
And because that wasn’t enough food, desserts all around!
Key lime pie.
And a Golden Cadillac for good measure.
Food aside, the best thing about Ishnala is the nostalgic atmosphere and it wouldn’t be complete without dinner music from the lounge singer, Billy Anderson. We sat just across from his piano and couldn’t have been more entertained. Performing at Ishnala since 1966, Billy is as much of a fixture as the prime rib and timber walls.
When your family is scattered from the midwest to the east coast, 232 miles and four hours of driving was well worth it for family dinner on a Friday night in the Wisconsin woods.