Little Jack City

It didn't bother me in the least that the whipped potatoes came bearing their own lagoon of melted butter, or that the au gratin potatoes were a saturated orange of a particularly glowing shade. I--and, I'd venture, most people under 40--eat Minnesota Supper Club far less often than Thai, Caribbean, Vietnamese, or just about any other cuisine, and the idiosyncrasies of the genre strike me as exotic, and adventurous in a way that would probably make some Little Jack's veterans scratch their heads.

Then again, co-owner Jason Reshetar says he's been serving more patrons from the post-Sesame Street generations lately: "A lot of them come in looking for that classic supper-club atmosphere," he notes, "more formality, big martinis, straight-up Manhattans, a bartender who's been here for more than 20 years. That's the classic dining experience: You're recognized when you come in. We butcher all the beef and steaks here. All the soups, stocks, dressings, everything's made from scratch."

From scratch, and from recipes that are 60 years old and pure Americana. In fact, Reshetar points out that some of the keepers of those recipes have been there since before I was born: Kitchen manager Annie Petroske, for one, has been in charge of sandwiches and sauces for more than 30 years. Executive manager Terri Rock is a comparative youngster, having signed up during the Carter years, and chef Ed Mahon only came on board in the last decade. But it's not like he's dragging in newfangled stuff like endive or coconut milk--he has more than enough to deal with maintaining the oldfangled stuff.

Tony Nelson

Location Info

Map

Little Jack's Steak House

201 NE Lowry Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55418-3420

Category: Restaurant >

Region: Northeast Minneapolis

And nothing's more oldfangled than the Little Jack's Special Hors D'Oeuvres Tray ($7.50 per person, minimum of two people) or, as I prefer to call it, The Tray of Bottomless Plenty. The Tray is available only at dinner, and it should only be ordered by triathletes, grizzly bears, and other hungry souls, for the Tray for two is actually two trays, each a foot long and six inches wide, one brimming with hot food and the other cold. To wit: Four pork ribs, two delicious, full-size fillets of fried fish, a handful of chicken wings, egg rolls, fried mushrooms, and a pile of garlic toast; plus a bunch of deviled eggs, a bowl of pickled herring fillets, potato salad, radishes, olives, cherry tomatoes, celery, two dipping bowls of dressing, and four giant shrimp in a cocktail bowl filled with an unusual, addictive blend of chopped tomatoes and various secret ingredients. (If you really must know what's in the cocktail sauce, try to find the issue of the Saturday Evening Post that Jason Reshetar says profiled his grandmother as one of the top female chefs in the nation, sometime in the Forties. And if you do, send me a copy.)

If you can possibly eat anything after getting through the Tray of Plenty (I did, but I had auxiliary stomachs implanted especially for this assignment), you may get one of the steaks: I tried the most expensive one (natch), the $25.95 porterhouse, and it was cooked perfectly to temperature, sweet, and supple. I was even more impressed with one of the nightly specials, an enormous fillet of fried walleye ($11.95) that was as light as any I've ever had--and with the Little Jack's dinner standard of potato and vegetable choices, I counted it quite a bargain.

I particularly counted it so because I know that when I next return to the concrete canyons on the Hudson, there's no way my friends could hope to match the splendor and gluttony of the Viscount Room. And if you're anything like me, you rejoice in the squirming of your closest friends.

(Oh, you say you're not anything like me? Well goody, goody for you, buddy, shave your head and call you the governor, ain't you lucky. But I wouldn't count my chickens quite so fast--like squirrels in the attic, termites on the porch, celebrities in the election, those city-that-never-sleepers can strike at any time. At least now you're armed and ready.)

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