Going Stag

Kim Bartmann's latest venture updates the supper-club concept for the green era

Star Prairie Farms Trout ($20), gently fried and served with head and tail intact but bones removed, was light but satisfying, and the bitter, tangy turnip greens nicely complemented the sweeter pumpkin purée that accompanied the fish. A side order of skewered, roasted oyster mushrooms ($5) was barely seasoned, if at all, resulting in a strong, earthy flavor.

Whether a green-friendly, sustainable menu should include veal I'll leave for others to argue. I can tell you that here it's delicious. Three different preparations of the flavorful meat, along with some carrots and onions, form the veal "casserole" ($20). Breaded, deep-fried, super-moist chunks tasted like something that should be available at the state fair—but much too good to survive the large-scale transformation. Small, almost melt-in-your-mouth bits of braised veal floated in savory broth; and a steak-like cut of the meat was nicely charred on the outside, tender within.

Speaking of steaks, they're available in several portion sizes. A six-ounce flatiron ($19) was served with a mellow potato purée, roasted whole small white onions, and broccoli rabe: a perfect meat-and-potatoes meal, and probably the closest thing on the menu to what you'd have found in supper clubs of old (though there's also a fish fry every Friday). Bartmann has fond memories of such places, and while the concept here is so updated it comes close to being lost, touches like her old family photos on the walls help the down-home feel shine through the trendiness. Of course, most of the changes, especially on the menu, are welcome: No one misses iceberg-lettuce salads, dried-out baked potatoes, or overdone meat.

A brownie dessert one night was a warm, super-gooey concoction held together by phyllo, extra sweet and rich but with a slight hint of cayenne pepper. The accompanying homemade chocolate ice cream was a perfect foil; the ganache-like chocolate sauce over the whole thing was almost, but not quite, too much. Dessert selections change frequently; they weren't printed on a menu on any of the days I visited.

Specialty drinks run toward the old-fashioned—that's one that they have on the list, anyway, along with a Manhattan and a brandy Alexander, so your highball can accurately replicate the old supper-club experience. But, as expected, there is modernity at the bar, too: A delectable concoction called a Dark and Stormy was made with Meyer's rum, ginger beer, and lime. Fun cocktails can also be found at brunch; in addition to mimosas and bloody Marys, there's "Mom's chocolate milk"—with Bailey's and Kahlua. Brunch menu offerings include smoked trout, flaxseed waffles, a scramble with ever-changing ingredients, and perfectly cooked, very thinly cut hash browns. There's a scrumptious lobster- and egg-salad sandwich ($10), topped with sprouts and avocado (also found on the lunch menu, which is largely drawn from the dinner menu). Brioche French toast stuffed with peach preserves and soft cheese ($9), served with warm maple syrup, made a lovely brunch dessert.

The Red Stag really shines at night, though. This is still a supper club, after all, and the large yet cozy room is more alluring when it's dark outside. It may not be the supper club of bygone days, when multiple generations of families settled in at group tables for the night (though that's sure to happen once in a while), but the Red Stag is at least as inviting. The bar is open till 2:00 every night, and around 11:00 p.m. or so, past the primetime for dinner conversation, a DJ (Fridays and Saturdays) or a small combo (Tuesdays) might set up in front of the old-time piano and provide a reason for people to linger a little longer. Why go home when it's so comfy here?

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