A couple years ago, I took my dealer in Fargo out to dinner at Rescan, a wonderful Italian restaurant in the hip downtown area. Before we went out to dinner, we met his wife for drinks at a place called the Silver Moon Supper Club - an upscale supper club that had opened just a couple weeks before. I told him that at some point I wanted to take him out for dinner at the Silver Moon. On my annual trip to Fargo this past summer, I did just that.
Monte Jones was a North Dakota farm boy who was obviously out of place in the upper plains. After graduating from high school, he took off for New York City and became a dancer and choreographer. After living in New York City for nearly 30 years, Monte moved back to Fargo, sensing a change in the attitudes of the city. With Fargo being a small, yet somewhat cosmopolitan city in the middle of nowhere, Jones opened up a fine dining establishment called Monte's Downtown. It was a big hit with the well-to-do locals and the people who came into town to do business.
Let's go back to the 1940's. That's when a supper club by the name of the Silver Moon opened in Moorhead, MN, just across the Red River of the North from Fargo. From the early 40's until 1969, the Silver Moon was a grand old-style supper club - the kind of place where people would go for special dinners. Monte Jones' mother used to work in the Silver Moon when he was growing up. Jones and his partner, Jerry Erbstoesser, decided to open an extravagant supper club in downtown Fargo based in part on the old Silver Moon in Moorhead.
The building that houses the Silver Moon was originally built in 1917 for a company that used the four floors and the basement as a warehouse for dry goods including clothing, linens, sheets, blankets and bedspreads. The building was a warehouse for nearly 70 years before the space was no longer useful. The building languished for about 20 years used for various things before a group of investors bought the space in 2007 turning the upper floors into loft residencies and allowing Jones and Erbstoesser to put the Silver Moon Supper Club on the main floor.
Jones and Erbstoesser envisioned a retro-styled restaurant, full of art deco and art moderne touches including clam shell booths, a water wall and a private eating area called Salon Privé. They enlisted the help of Chef Josh Smith to come up with an interesting and varied menu - one that changes seasonally based upon locally grown foods found in the area. Because of that concept, the Silver Moon's menu changes constantly and there's always bound to be something different to eat each time you go to the place.
It was late in the afternoon when I arrived into Fargo. My dealer and his people were out working on a job site and were running late. I ended up at a place for a couple three beers before he joined me after getting cleaned up. We sat and talked business for a little while before we decided to head over to the Silver Moon on Roberts Street (see map). My dealer's wife had been planning on joining us for dinner as were his two workers, but none of them were there when we showed up at 8 p.m.
My dealer and I had a drink at the bar - a nice little modern style U-shaped bar with the bartender in a vest and black tie. The owner, Monte Jones, whom I'd met on my previous visit to the place, came over to greet my dealer, whose wife and he are regular visitors to both the Silver Moon and to Monte's. My dealer reintroduced me to Monte and I told him that I was looking forward to dinner that evening.
One of my dealer's workers showed up about 8:30 and his wife finally showed about 10 minutes later. The third worker had called and begged off saying that he was too tired to come out to dinner. I told my dealer, "Man, you must have worked him pretty hard!"
My dealer said, "Oh, we were running wire in attic and crawl spaces today. It was brutally hot in some of those spaces."
The four of us sat at one of the Silver Moon's signature clam shell booths. Personally, I don't care for booths like that - it's like you're on display for the rest of the restaurant, watching you eat and carry on in conversation. But it was late in the evening and only a handful of people were in the restaurant.
The Silver Moon also usually has someone in playing the baby grand piano that's up on a little riser in the main dining area. But that night it sat silent. When my dealer's wife inquired about that with Monte, he said that during the summer months he's been only having someone come in during the weekends. "When the schools get back in session this fall (North Dakota State University and Minnesota State - Moorhead), we'll get our regular group of players to come back in."
Our waitress came out and gave us menus. I also ordered up a bottle of wine - and I have to admit that things get very fuzzy from here on out. I'd had a few beers before we showed up to the restaurant, then a couple more while we were waiting. I usually go back to the room and make notes of what we had to eat or drink at the restaurant, but I didn't get back to my hotel until 11:30 p.m. and I had a 5 a.m. wake-up call for a 7 a.m. flight out of Fargo that morning. I immediately went to bed.
So, I can't remember what kind of wine we got, but I do know it was red. But I was the only one going to have beef that night - everyone else went with a seafood entree. The night before in Dickinson, I broke up my two night streak of having steaks, going with some chicken dish at an Applebee's when I took my dealer and his crew out for dinner. (My Dickinson dealer closes his doors at 9 p.m. and anything close to a fine dining restaurant in Dickinson closes at 9 p.m. - that's why we ate at Applebee's.)
Three courses came with the dinner - salad, main entree and a dessert. I ended up getting the Silver Moon's New York strip - rare - with a side of garlic mashed potatoes. As I said, my guests all got seafood. I do remember that my dealer got the shrimp and risotto entree, but I can't for the life remember what the other two got.
The presentation at the Silver Moon is very good. My steak was resting on a bed of asparagus spears with a small grilled onion slice on top. From what I remember about the meal, it was very good. Our waitress was also very good, she had a great sense of humor and took care of us very well.
After dinner, our waitress came around and showed us the dessert menu. Something caught my eye on the dessert menu - the after dinner drinks. And for $15 bucks they had a three-Scotch flight of drinks - the Macallan 12 year; the Macallan 15 year aged in fine oak barrels; and the 18 year Highland Park. Now, I really have to tell you that at that point in the evening - close to 11 p.m. - I certainly didn't need that. But for $15 bucks to have all three fine Scotch whiskeys I really couldn't pass it up. I ended up passing on getting dessert and got the Scotch instead. Let me tell you, I was feeling no pain at that point, but lingered a little longer in the shower the next morning after my 5 a.m. wake up call at the hotel.
So, from what I remember about the Silver Moon Supper Club - my steak was very good, the service was wonderful, whatever wine we had was very good, Monte Jones was a great host and the Scotch at the end of the night - which I didn't need, but had anyway - was a nice closer to the evening. I wish I could get up to Fargo more often, but being that it's a nine hour drive - minimum - and a 3.5 hour plane trip (with a stop at Minneapolis-St. Paul to change planes), I just can't get up there as much. But the way the economy in North Dakota is going, there's business to be had and I may be getting up there more often than once a year. That way I can go back to places like The Silver Moon Supper Club and hopefully remember more about my meal.
(Update - It wasn't long after my entry about the Silver Moon that Monte Jones shut the place down. I know a lot of people were unhappy about his decision. It was actually a cool place and one that would have worked well in a much larger metro area, but maybe not so much in Fargo.)