Editor’s note: This restaurant review from The Four Dishes was composed in March before the Buckhorn Supper Club closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have found a supper club we really, really like: the Buckhorn.
The view of the lake gives the place an “up north” feel, like a special vacation spot. It was not fancy, and the owners truly seem to value the history of their location.
The story of the area is printed on Buckhorn’s menu, and it makes for interesting reading. In addition, the place is very popular, and the food is excellent.
The lounge features a vast space with a huge bar and several tables. On the night we visited, every seat was occupied. It reminded us of a neighborhood bar where patrons knew one another and celebrated the end of the work week together.
The dimly lit dining room is separated by a pony wall. Windows facing the lake provide a beautiful panoramic view. During warmer weather, an enormous patio offers outdoor seating and the chance to watch boaters leisurely drift by.
Looking over the cocktail selections, Jennifer, who had never sampled a brandy Old-Fashioned (and yes, she’s a Wisconsin native), thought now was as good a time as any to try one. Ordered sweet, it was a lovely combination of smooth brandy, bitters, cherry juice with a colorful garnish of a maraschino cherry and an orange slice.
Helene opted for the brandy Old-Fashioned sour ($7), which is a drier version of a BOF sweet without being tart. Generally with a “sour,” the garnish is an olive. But when our server noticed Helene’s hesitation, she offered up a mushroom instead. It was appreciated and enjoyed.
For starters, we sampled the shrimp and brie ($19.99) and were impressed. The large, meaty shrimp were served resting in butter and garlic, surrounding a soft wedge of brie. The brie was flavorful and creamy, making it perfect for spreading on the accompanying crackers. Not ones to leave anything delicious on our plates, we used bread from the bread basket to soak up the rest of the garlic butter sauce.
I ordered the half-rack of ribs ($28.99), which was a huge portion. The ribs weren’t messy. Instead, they had a baked-in sauce with a bit of crunch. The meat came right off the bone, and the sauce had just a hint of sweetness.
My side was an order of large broccoli florets that were still crunchy—done just right. The meal also came with my choice of soup or salad, so I tried the clam chowder. I think I noted a hint of bacon. I’m kind of a purist with clam chowder, but the bacon wasn’t overpowering, and I know bacon lovers would be happy with the addition.
When in Wisconsin on a Friday night, someone had better order the fish fry. That was Helene’s thinking when she requested the three-piece fried cod ($15.99) with coleslaw. She added broccoli as a side for an additional $2.
The cod was good with a “smooth” batter, not craggy and crispy like some batters can be. It also wasn’t highly seasoned but more on the delicate side.
But it was the coleslaw, which featured crisp cabbage with a mayonnaise dressing, that proved to be the stand-out of her meal. It had a good consistency—well-balanced with a perceptible taste of celery seeds. It brought a nice freshness to her meal.
Nikki ordered the prime rib ($33.99) with fries, salad and a side of creamy horseradish sauce. Nikki likes her beef medium-rare. When our server brought the dish to the table, she said she would stop back in a minute to make sure it was cooked to Nikki’s liking. It was perfect just as it was.
Jennifer went with the queen-cut filet mignon ($33.99). She decided on a tossed salad with excellent blue cheese dressing and a baked potato to accompany her dish. She also added mushrooms for an extra $3.25.
It’s worth mentioning the steaks at Buckhorn are seasoned, broiled and then buttered. The plump filet came with sauteed onion rings on top and plenty of whole mushrooms on the side. Jennifer’s preference would have been sliced mushrooms as some were so large they had to be cut.
The tender filet was nicely seasoned and had a charred crust. Although it seemed a bit too done around the edges, Jennifer was pleased to find a pink center. The char-broiled, buttery flavor was what stood out most.
We were craving a morsel of sweetness after our meal, so we opted for a slice of key lime pie ($7.50). It was a combination of sweet, tangy and creamy all rolled into one delectable dessert. The graham cracker crust also was super moist, making the dish a definite hit.
The Buckhorn Supper Club has been a popular spot for more than 80 years, and we can see why. We will definitely be going back.
The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.