Al & Alma's Supper Club (Mound, MN)
By Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
Talented hands using fresh ingredients are the focus of today's restaurant menu. And the speed with which trends boomerang through the industry turns every new idea into everybody's new idea in a matter of weeks. Or so it seems.
Dining out has never been so good. Nevertheless, yesterday's typical restaurants can still be found; places that, with their very name, strike fear into the heart of the modern gourmand. There still exists the "Supper Club."
Our wondering whether there was any room in today's market for such a seeming anachronism, and curiosity over the state of dining on the Upper Lake, took us to Al & Alma's Supper Club on the shores of Lake Minnetonka in Mound.
A supper club must have, we think, excellent steak and good drinks. We were delighted by the wonderful, flavorsome filet mignon. Cooked perfectly, with a dollop of strong garlic butter melting on top, this was the ideal offering of a classic steak. The New York strip steak was just as nice.
The menu offers the house specialty "brown potatoes" as a side. These are actually red potatoes, boiled and peeled, and then fried to order. You get the slightly crisp outside that makes a good French fry, and the fluffy, steamy good inside of a baked potato.
The simple touch of homemade croutons on the salad gave us the notion that the kitchen cares very much about what it's serving, even if it's nothing more exciting than supper club fare.
As an appetizer, we recommend the coconut shrimp. The sweet mango salsa and the coconut-encrusted shrimp are a postmodern entrant into the supper club world, traditional and new at the same time. The dish comes with five huge pieces.
On the other hand, we found the onion rings to be merely acceptably ordinary, and wanted something more ... rustic. Onion rings hand-dipped in beer batter would have been a welcome arrival at our table.
Classic sandwiches include the walleye with homemade tartar sauce on a really good roll. And the French fries are just fine.
The wine list, unfortunately, is about as uninteresting as they come. There's no excuse for this; more interesting bottles are available at all prices. A better list would certainly make this a more attractive dinner option. But there is a full bar, if a cocktail is your preferred steak accompaniment.
The service is about par for summer help on Lake Minnetonka; that is to say, just OK. But the restaurant was remodeled 10 years ago, creating an inviting open dining room and loft area in place of the dated relic from the 1970s.
Al & Alma's main business has become their renowned cruises. Much of the supper club menu is available as buffets on one of their several yachts, and public tickets are available.
You also can book a charter cruise, which is a great option if you have a big group. The food isn't any different out on the water, but it's lovely to have dinner on the lake.
And they have a public dock for those whose boats don't include a dining room table.
Al & Alma's Supper Club
Location: 5201 Piper Road, Mound
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