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The Old Fashioned: Superior's Hammond Steakhouse is the start of something good

Sports reporter Jamey Malcomb starts his summer tour of Wisconsin supper clubs at the foot of the Blatnik Bridge.

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The Hammond Steakhouse in Superior was sports reporter Jamey Malcomb's first stop on his planned summer tour of area supper clubs.
Lisa Malcomb / For the News Tribune
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SUPERIOR — The Hammond was not the place I envisioned my wife and I ending up last weekend.

A few weeks ago a work schedule change gave me Friday nights off work, and my wife, who is also off Fridays, suggested we spend some time this summer checking out supper clubs in Wisconsin. I remember her telling me about the Dalles House in St. Croix Falls and the popovers they served when she was a girl growing up in Chisago City, Minnesota, and I’ve always wanted to check out a few of these places, but I wanted to add a wrinkle.

“What if you wrote about it?” my wife asked.

She was OK with me sharing this little bit of our lives and with an enthusiastic response from my editor, I set about defining what a supper club is. From my research, it seems there are a few traits—surf and turf, old-fashioned cocktails on the menu and a good view—that are shared.

I also thought the relish tray was a menu staple but my editor, who I refer to as “my expert on all things Wisconsin,” said they are “fading out of style.” I would raise an eyebrow at this traditional dish leaving the menu, but I don’t like pickles and the likelihood of me ordering a relish tray anyway is very low.

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So much is my disdain for pickles that my pickle-loving dad once claimed that he and my mom had “done gone and picked up the wrong baby at the hospital.”

Before I get back to the Hammond, a couple more notes about this column. I’m not a food critic and I’m not reviewing these restaurants and I’m certainly not trying to make fun of them or anyone besides maybe myself.

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Sports reporter Jamey Malcomb's king cut prime rib from the Hammond in Superior. Initally, he thought the Hammond was an "unimaginative place" to start his tour of supper clubs, but it turned out to be the perfect beginning.
Jamey Malcomb / Duluth News Tribune

So, the Hammond. This was not where I wanted to start this little adventure. Though on my list of places to visit, it felt like an unimaginative place to start. You’re supposed to drive a ways and and search for some of these places, right?

After a big trip the weekend before—that ended in Waukesha, Wisconsin—we didn’t have it in us to go exploring.

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Lisa Malcomb, wife of sports reporter Jamey Malcomb, reports that she found her Caesar salad from the Hammond Steakhouse in Superior contained a "proper amount of croutons."
Lisa Malcomb / For the News Tribune

So we ended up at the Hammond and I’ve got to tell you, I enjoyed it. From the movie-theater carpets to the folks having a good time at the bar, I enjoyed myself immensely and it was what I was looking for in my first stop.

The prime rib was fantastic … though the waitress forgot to give me a steak knife. I only mention it to relate this little story.

I don’t drink a lot, but on this particular night I was two deep when I walked into the Hammond and two-thirds of the way through my old-fashioned when I got my dinner.

My wife and I both take our time preparing our baked potatoes. In fact, she said she “knew I was the one for her” when she realized I take more time working on my potato than she does.

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In all the prep work, I didn’t notice I didn’t have a steak knife and, being somewhere south of sober, I started sawing on this beautiful piece of meat with a butter knife.

I look up and my wife’s got this look—steak knife in hand—that says, “What on earth are you doing?”

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The old fashioned cocktail from the Hammond Steakhouse in Superior is the likely culprit of sports reporter Jamey Malcomb choosing to attack his prime rib with a butter knife.
Lisa Malcomb / For the News Tribune

So we started sharing her lone steak knife until our waitress came back and dutifully brought me a steak knife.

A couple more thoughts about the Hammond. This was not the Hammond’s fault, but I feel like it needs to be dark outside when you visit. We went at 6:30 p.m. in May—this was not in the cards. My 80s-raised brain also feels like there should be a nice thick cloud of smoke about 8 feet above the floor, but we live in healthier times.

What my wife and I did get were two beautiful pieces of prime rib and, I don’t want to call it a “cheap night out,” but we paid less than $65 — with tip — for our meal. That was a $100 dinner where we lived 10 years ago.

What I felt like I could have been a more creative choice, actually ended up being the correct one. I do want to search and be on the lookout for obscure and different types of supper clubs. The Hammond’s spot at the foot of the Blatnik Bridge, though likely a place familiar to most reading this column, seems symbolic.

Before I venture further down U.S. 2 or 53, I stopped at the one supper club that’s been staring me in the face for 10 years.

My wife and l certainly don’t regret the choice.

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This story originally contained a misspelling of the Dalles House's name. It was updated at 8:31 p.m. May 19 with the proper spelling. The News Tribune regrets the error.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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