The Suitcase Lady


February 26, 2008, 10:20 pm

Driving home from work, I recently heard a great piece on National Public Radio. Some comedians were discussing the old fashioned institutions known as supper clubs.

“Those are the places”, they said, “that take 14 heads of iceburg lettuce, cut them in half, toss them in a canoe and fill the canoe with ranch dressing. This is called ‘the salad bar’.”

I nearly drove off the road laughing. Many wonderful memories immediately surfaced. My husband and I were teenagers dating during the height of the supper club craze. The Black Angus was the classiest place in my hometown, The Blackjack in his.

In retrospect I can give a perfect description of that restaurant genre. A supper club was a place where the food was judged not on quality but weight; i.e., the 16 oz. prime rib, the 12 oz. porterhouse, the 14 oz. sirloin and the pound of crab legs. “Filet” always meant meat, and sour cream came in soup bowls. The omnipresent first course was onion soup hermetically sealed with a lid of cheese. Desserts veered toward schaum torte or a quarter of a cheesecake per person. Hot fudge sundaes were also popular endings.

Like many teenagers, we desperately wanted to be adults, so my future husband and I considered the intimate supper club meal to be the ultimate date. And, in a way, it truly was. The two of us were dressed up, dining alone for hours and conversing privately in an ambient setting.

Although surf and turf is no longer part of our lifestyle, the fundamental things still do apply.

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