Foodie February: A Wisconsin Supper Club

2/8/2018 - Nancy Davies

HobNob Supper Club and Cocktail Lounge Kenosha, WI
HobNob Supper Club and Cocktail Lounge Kenosha, WI
HobNob Supper Club and Cocktail Lounge Kenosha, WI
HobNob Supper Club and Cocktail Lounge Kenosha, WI

There was a time when going out to dinner was an event. People dressed up, they anticipated the evening, and they carefully chose the dining establishment they would visit. When I was little growing up in Ohio, this was an event my sister and I enjoyed on special occasions with our parents. I still recall the large, richly beautiful dining rooms filled with people enjoying a cocktail and looking over menus trying to decide on whether they would have steak, lobster, or chicken. People talked and took their time to savor the meal and experience.

Here in Wisconsin, we are lucky to be able to carry on this tradition in a way our state claims as its own: the supper club experience. This restaurant of the past remains very much in our present, specifically at HobNob Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge, a classic Wisconsin supper club right here in Kenosha.  Eating here is an event; the atmosphere is a throwback to the 1950s and 1960s, its fabulous décor probably having not changed (much) since the restaurant first opened on Lake Michigan in 1954.  

What exactly is a supper club? It isn’t a chain, its family owned and unique to itself. Supper clubs are a leisurely fine dining establishment – often boasting an atmosphere of dim lighting and vintage decorations. Menu items that will tip you off to a supper club include relish trays and brandy old-fashioned cocktails. That describes HobNob perfectly. Travel Wisconsin shares the story behind these iconic Wisconsin eateries and promotes them as a unique experience when visiting our great state. I read of one person answering the question, “How to you know when you find a supper club?” His response, “I know it when I see it.” My observation would add, “It has to have a neon sign.”

As for my husband and I made our reservation (recommended) at HobNob, anticipated the evening for several days, dressed up more than usual – even though casual dress is accepted - and headed out for our 8 p.m. dinner date. The parking lot was packed, and as we walked from our car we admired the large martini glass painted on the building’s exterior. The glow of the THREE neon signs the restaurant has lit up the area, too.  We headed inside, checked our coats, and found ourselves immersed in the fabulous atmosphere. It felt so “Mad Men.”

As we were escorted to our table, I immediately noticed the various rooms that housed diners. The Belmar Room, just off to the left as you walk down the main hallway, has sumptuous off-white half-circle booths and tables with its own bar. This room can be booked for special events! Also, on Friday and Saturday nights, live entertainment can be found here. There is the Moroccan Room, which seemed to fit up to 6 in cozy quarters, is a private dining room. The Cocktail Lounge, or the main bar area as some may think of it, is possibly the most impactful. WOW, what a bar it is! It runs nearly the length of the room, and here’s where the full vibe of the past comes to life. Circular leatherette booths, dim lighting, swanky music, and cocktail glasses as far as the eye can see!

We were seated in the Terrace Room, overlooking Lake Michigan. A crescent moon wasn’t enough to light up the dark waters, but it was nice to know it was close by. During the summer, this room offers incredible views of the lake.

So now, the food. At the top of the menu, a statement noting that a HobNob dining experience takes between 1.5 to 2 hours and they hope “you take the time to enjoy the atmosphere and the pleasure of your guests’ company.” For us it did take 2 hours, which was wonderful because what else did we have to do? An evening out for dinner is what we came for and what we fully experienced, from the moment we sat down through dessert.  The “stay-a-while” concept is a big part of the supper club experience.

For the appetizer course, we ordered mussels. Other classic supper club items on the menu include Oysters Rockafeller and Shrimp Cocktail. Next up was soup, and then salad – both come with each entree. And speaking of entrees, the menu offers everything from steaks and seafood to Liver and Prime Rib. My husband chose the Chicken Marengo and I enjoyed the Wiener Schnitzel. We couldn’t resist ordering dessert - the flourless chocolate truffle cake. Another popular dessert option here are their ice cream drinks! Rich and delicious. The dessert was the perfect cap to the delectable meal. As a Chicago Tribune writer once said about these Wisconsin restaurants, “If you leave hungry, you have not dined in a supper club.”

Even though my husband and I are well into decades of living, we felt like such adults dining at this supper club. For me, it was a nod to my parents and a lovely date night with my husband. This was not our first time here, we’ve taken in a meal there one other time a few years back, but this time we agreed we need to dine here much more often. That’s how much we enjoyed the good food, conversation, and atmosphere at HobNob. Plus, the full parking lot told us all we needed to know. As we drove home we talked about what an enjoyable evening we had, and even said it again the next morning.  

If you are visiting the Kenosha Area, especially if you are a first-time visitor to Wisconsin, HobNob is MUST stop. It’s unique to Kenosha, the supper club is unique to Wisconsin, and every dining experience at this gem is just a delight.

Nancy Davies

Community Blogger

A Kenosha County transplant 10+ yrs. ago, Nancy and her husband love the friendly, beautiful atmosphere of Kenosha. Enjoying finding the hidden gems of the area, she also enjoys being by the lake!