The night Cindy and I stayed at The Claytonian in Clayton, IA, we decided to take the short drive up to Prairie du Chien to have dinner. Cindy's family used to go to a place called The Black Angus, a supper club/steakhouse on the outskirts of Prairie du Chien when she was a little girl. She asked Eileen, the lady who ran The Claytonian, if The Black Angus was still there. She said, "You mean 'The Angus'? Yes! It's been under new ownership for awhile. The old owners were letting the place go to hell, but some new blood came in and took over. And it's just as good as you probably remember it to be."
When Cindy was growing up, the restaurant was known as "The Black Angus". The Jones family were the original owners of the place, but we'd heard the food and service had started to go downhill at some point. The Jeffers family came in and bought the place a few years, updated the decor and added a new menu. They restored the good name of the restaurant - now known simply as "The Angus" - back to its days of glory in the 70's and 80's.
It took us about 25 minutes to get to The Angus from The Claytonian. We pulled into the lot for the restaurant, located just across the street from the local airport (see map). We had a short wait before we were seated, so we decided to have a drink in the lounge. The restaurant has an old-style lounge with a raised oblong bar and a number of small tables off to the side. The decor is decidedly laid-back and the lighting subdued throughout the place. We went over and took a seat at the bar and I got a bottle of Old Style which used to be brewed just up the river in LaCrosse. Cindy got her usual UV vodka with lemonade. It wasn't long after we got our drinks before the hostess came over and let us know our table was ready.
She led us through the spacious dining area, past the salad bar and back into a cozy little corner to a two-seat table next to a mirrored-wall. Not long after that, our waitress for the evening, Bunny - a 60-ish lady who had a lot of sass to her - came over to great us. I said, "Bunny! That's an interesting name. Is that your real name?"
Bunny said, "Oh, heavens, no. I have such a horrible real name that I hardly ever use it. I've been Bunny ever since I was a little girl." I had to find out how horrible her real name was.
Since we already had drinks, she dropped off some cheese and crackers for the table. I asked her for the wine list and she came back with one right away.
Actually, the wine list at The Angus was rather surprising - both in the selection and the great prices. I shouldn't broadcast this, but they had a bottle of the 2004 Jordan Cabernet for $65 bucks. That's easily $20 cheaper than I've seen it before - and I thought $85 bucks was a cheap price THAT time. I couldn't resist. I ordered up a bottle for both of us to enjoy.
The menu at The Angus is your typical Midwestern steakhouse variety, heavy on steaks, chops, chicken, some pasta and some seafood. Steak and lobster is a big combination at The Angus and Cindy thought about getting that until Bunny told her it was $45 dollars. Bunny suggested to Cindy that she get the 8 oz. beef tenderloin filet with the shrimp scampi. Cindy said that would satisfy her need for both surf and turf. She ordered a baked potato with "the works" on top.
I was intrigued by a couple of things, one of which was a 10 oz. beef tenderloin filet topped with parmesan cheese and a garlic butter sauce. I ordered that - rare - and got a side of The Angus' famous hash browns with melted cheese and onion. After we ordered, Bunny invited us to partake in their salad bar.
I will say the salad bar was great. Not only for the items, but how fresh everything tasted. Cindy got a cup of their potato soup that they had that night along with a plate of mixed greens and some veggies. I got the mixed greens, veggies, then went back and got a plate of their marinated beets. The beets were good, but not as good as the beets at Bud's Skyline Inn in Moline. Topped with their homemade dressings, the salad bar at The Angus was top notch.
The Angus grills their steaks over a gas flame in an open area that is in full view from the dining room. I just happened to go back to the restroom as we were waiting for our main entrees to show up and I walked right by the grill area. I had to get a picture of this huge filet they were grilling up. It turned out this was my filet.
When Bunny brought our meals to the table, I was surprised - pleasantly surprised - by the size of the filet on my plate. I mean, it looked big on the grill, but on the plate next to the hash browns it looked huge! It was much more than a 10 oz. filet, that's for sure. The parmesan on the top was sort of crystallized and the garlic-butter sauce was a great compliment to the taste. The steak was cooked a perfect rare for me - big tenderloins are usually difficult to cook given their thickness - with a cool, red center but a nice charred taste on the outside. It was very tender and a steak knife went easily through the meat.
Cindy was also happy with her beef tenderloin filet - she got hers medium. (The grill chef at The Angus obviously knows what he's doing.) And she got five large and plump shrimp scampi. She offered me one and it was scrumptious.
I had a little bit of the hash browns with the grilled onions and cheese and they were good, as well. Coupled with the hefty salad I had earlier along with the beets, the large filet was more than enough for dinner. And, of course, the big treat was having the Jordan Cabernet with the meal.
Bunny came over and asked us if we wanted any dessert. I sort of winced and said, "I don't know. I'm pretty full."
Cindy, on the other hand, said, "Well, let's see what they have for dessert." Bunny went through the line-up and she came to a blueberry flan. I sort of groaned in sort of a half "Oh boy!" - half "Oh no!" response. Cindy said, "We'll take the blueberry flan with two forks."
I like flans, but I'm not certain that I ever had a blueberry flan. Just like any dessert that has lemon in it, I'm a sucker for anything that has blueberries in it. And it certainly was very good. And rich. We had trouble finishing it. When the last crumb was off the plate we sort of looked at one another in amazement - both with the taste of the flan and the fact that we actually ate the whole thing.
Bunny came over to give us our check and I said, "OK, Bunny. You're already going to get a nice tip from us, but I'll tack on another five bucks if you tell us your real name." I was thinking that it was something like Hortense, Gertrude or Bertha.
She said, "Well, my given name is Marjorie Catherine."
I sort of look at Cindy then gave Bunny a funny look. "Marjorie Catherine isn't that bad. I was thinking it would be a lot worse than that!"
Bunny said, "I was raised in a strict Catholic family and I just hated the name Marjorie Catherine. Someone in our family gave me the nickname of Bunny and that's what I started to answer to. I've been Bunny ever since."
And Bunny did get a good tip from us - 20% plus an extra fiver for revealing her real name to us. Her service was top-notch. And that mirrored the whole experience at The Angus. The food was great, the ambiance was wonderful and we had a great dining experience. I love the old type of supper clubs like The Angus and try to seek them out on our travels in the Midwest. I would have to rank The Angus as being one of the best - if not THE best - supper club we've encountered over the years. Cindy said, "I TOLD you it would be good!"