If you’re a fan of old black and white film, you probably enjoyed watching women dressed in long gowns, men in tuxedos sipping champagne and smoking cigarettes at tables with white tablecloths while the orchestra played in the background.
These establishments were known as supper clubs. Supper clubs have been around since the 1930s and ’40s. They were mainly in the Midwest in rural areas and referred to as prohibition roadhouses. Usually family-owned, great service and large portions of food are several characteristics of a supper club.
The fare generally is steaks, chops, and fish — basically a juicy steak and a stiff drink. The timeless supper club always offers guests bread and a relish tray even before the drink orders are taken. The ambiance is dark and usually has the leather chairs.
Supper clubs are a dying genre, but if you search a bit, you can locate several of them in Chicago, Milwaukee or Racine, Wis.
One doesn’t have to travel that far to find a supper club with all of the characteristics and charm of the old days. There is one near us — The Princess Café in Beecher.
Prior to becoming the Princess Café, the restaurant had a rich history. According to its web page, it was known as the Old Stage Tavern, and it was one of the first places of business in Washington Center, now the town of Beecher.
Since 1977, it has been known as Princess Café Restaurant. I haven’t been to the Princess in several years. To complete our month of September celebration, we made reservations for dinner. It wasn’t the restaurant I remembered from years past, but one that reminded me of the sheer elegance of Gene and Georgetti’s in Chicago.
Dark wood with beautiful stained glass windows and flickering candles on white tablecloths add to the elegant ambiance. The water glasses were quickly filled, and warm bread was brought to our table along with a relish tray and a bowl of their homemade meatballs. The meatballs are made from an old-fashioned family recipe and are very good.
We began with one of their most popular appetizers — saganaki, flaming Greek cheese. Our server, Jim, recommended one of their homemade soups. I ordered the baked French onion soup, one of their specialties; Dave had the cream of mushroom. The baked soup was amazing, loaded with melted cheese.
Most French onion soups are a bit too salty, which indicates using canned broth. Their soup was not salty nor did it taste from a can. Jim said all of their soups are made fresh that day.
Since it was our anniversary, we treated ourselves to steak and lobster. The petite filet was mouth-watering and tender. The rock lobster was fabulous; tender, sweet and with melted butter to-die-for. I already was getting full before dinner, so I opted to enjoy the lobster and save the steak for home.
Dave ordered the 24-ounce, bone-in ribeye steak. I sat in amazement as this steak was delivered to our table — large, juicy and hanging over the edges of the platter. Really, it was enough to feed a family of four. Honestly, the man never said a word for the rest of the meal; he ate that steak in total silence. When Dave is silent, the food is extremely good.
Besides steak and lobster, some of the other favorites are steak Diane, Chateaubriand for two and beef tournedos — beef tenderloin topped with artichoke hearts and Bearnaise sauce.
There is a variety of seafood items on the menu, such as pan-fried perch, frog legs, and scallops de Jonghe. Barbeque ribs are very popular, and if you like roast duck, they have it on the menu.
Our server, Jim, was incredible — always checking to see if we were satisfied or needed anything. He also recommended several drinks for us to try; they make a mean old-fashioned. I am a bourbon fan, so he did recommend the Bob Dylan smoked bourbon. His tip got a little larger because that was some smooth bourbon.
Save room for one of their homemade desserts. Mind you, even after ordering that huge steak, Dave had to try their famous chocolate Swiss chalet layer cake. I don’t know where he puts it, but he never gains weight.
The Princess Café is on my list of all-time favorite restaurants. I highly recommend you to go whether it’s for a special occasion or just for some fine dining. It’s incredible. All the servers were wonderful and took great care of their guests, but I’m asking for Jim when I go back. You can’t beat his customer service.
The Princess Café is at 502 Dixie Highway, Beecher. For reservations, call 708-946-3141.