During a recent trip to The Butterfly Club in Beloit, Nikki Bolka, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, ordered this lamb shank. Delivered on a serving of mashed potatoes, the shank’s meat was so tender, it fell off the bone, she said.


We headed south early on a Sunday evening to dine at a well-established venue, the Butterfly Club in Beloit.

There is so much history to this place, starting in 1924 when the Butterfly Tea Room was built and named after the butterflies in the nearby fields. The name later transitioned to the Butterfly Club, and though it has changed hands several times, it remains a favorite spot for fine dining.

I remember as a child in Illinois, my grandparents would drive up for special occasions, and they recommended it to their friends. Later as an adult, I heard it was “the” place to dance. Today, it is still going strong.

When we arrived, there was a large party in one corner, but we were surprised the dining room wasn’t more crowded. That’s when we found out everyone else was in the bar watching the Chicago Bears’ playoff game.

We settled into one of the back rooms looking out onto the patio, which was festively illuminated with holiday decorations, and a wooded area beyond.

Creamy, pale turquoise walls gave the space a tranquil feel. Cloth napkins and tablecloths adorned the tables, and soft candlelight along with recessed lighting added to the overall ambience. Our server immediately brought out a bread basket that included a variety of crackers and rolls, including cinnamon buns.

After a quick look at the menu, the lobster bisque ($2 as a side) jumped out at us. We are all fans of this phenomenal soup and don’t see it on menus often, so we thought we’d split a bowl and all take a taste. We loved this take on the savory treat because it wasn’t overly rich, and it was peppered with plentiful chunks of lobster tail.

We were on a seafood kick and chose the crab quesadilla ($9.50) to start the meal. The large quesadilla, cut into pie portions, arrived lightly browned and filled with a generous amount of shredded crab meat along with green onions and cheese. It was wonderful. Salsa and sour cream accompanied the dish.

When our server returned to take our entree orders, I asked some questions and finally decided on the king crab legs ($35.95). We all enjoy crab legs but usually avoid ordering them because digging the meat out is such a messy job. These came cut in half to make them easy to eat, and they were so good dipped in drawn butter. There was a full pound, so I had enough to share.

Jennifer decided to try the steak portabella ($20.95). When her meal came, it was beautifully presented. Slivers of portabella mushrooms and crumbles of melted blue cheese topped the steak.

However, she noticed the filet had been “butterflied,” which is not her favorite presentation. Jennifer had ordered her steak medium, but upon the first cut she noticed it was more well-done than she had requested. When our server came back to check on us, Jennifer explained the mishap and it was quickly remedied. Her new steak was tender with a nice pink center.

Nikki ordered the lamb shank ($26) off the daily special menu and picked salad with blue cheese as her side.

The shank was huge and looked like a giant turkey leg. It came resting on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and a thin brown gravy. The best part was that the meat was so tender it fell right off the bone. I’m hesitant to eat lamb, but when she offered bites around the table, I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious it was.

Helene chose one of the regular Sunday specials, chicken livers ($10.50), which came with a substantial amount of chicken livers, mushrooms and onions—all sautéed and mixed with nicely sized pieces of bacon.

Helene considers this a comfort food, and she thoroughly enjoyed the earthy flavors of the dish. We’ll have to take her word for it because the rest of us are liver-averse. She was only able to eat a portion of her meal, and she later remarked the leftovers were even better.

Even though the Butterfly Club does not make its desserts in-house, we felt a need to try the key lime pie ($7). Key limes are generally a bit more tart than regular limes but, even so, the pie’s silky sweetness was the perfect ending to a good meal.

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.