Archive for the ‘Iron Mountain’ tag
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I think that “supper clubs” are generally a Wisconsin/northern Michigan type of thing. A supper club is a restaurant that is only open for supper, usually beginning around 4 PM and closing up at midnight or later. Fontana’s in Iron Mountain is our supper club of choice when we are visiting Luke’s mother and her partner. They introduced us to Fontana’s on our first trip up, and since then it’s become a tradition to eat there at least once during our stay.
Fontana’s, like many (if not all) supper clubs, is a casual-dining atmosphere. If you walk in wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, no one will bat an eye. If you are more dressed up, it won’t matter. Everyone is welcome. The restaurant itself is nothing fancy - there are booths covered in vinyl and tables with scarred wooden tops. The lighting is dim, and there is a small oil lamp or candle on every table.
Fontana’s has a full bar with several beers on tap. Their mixed drinks are usually stronger than you would expect, so they aren’t skimpy with the liquor. As a matter of fact, if you were to skimp on the liquor in the UP, the locals might riot. Fontana’s also has a wine list, and you can get most selections by the bottle or by the glass. I was told one time that they wouldn’t serve me a single glass of Piesporter because they didn’t want to open another bottle so close to closing, so it appears that the selection wanes toward the end of the night. I don’t know what would happen if you were to make a fuss over something like being denied a glass of wine, but I imagine they might send you to the mine and have you bring up a few loads of iron as a punishment.
The service is - I have to say - spotty. Most of the time when we come to Fontana’s, we go to the bar ourselves to get refills or to have another drink mixed. If you wait for your server to offer, you might be waiting for awhile. Generally, we see our server only a few times: drink orders, drink delivery and food orders, food delivery, and check, and they are not too worried about being swift even in those few appearances. We are mostly left to our own devices, which suits us fine. But for people who need more coddling with their dining, this could be frustrating.
However, it is all forgiven for the sake of the food. The food is quite simply, the best food I’ve ever had. The no-frills attitude carries over to presentation, and you are not going to find delicate sprays of greens gently arranged around small, artistically arranged cuts of meat. There is no room for such foolishness. The food is the star at Fontana’s and it speaks for itself.
Fontana’s specializes in Italian cuisine, but I can’t speak about that. No one gets Italian when we dine there, with the exception of Luke’s brother, who sometimes gets gnocchi as a side dish. However, I can tell you that the pasta is made fresh and daily on the premises.
Almost everyone in our party gets the porterhouse, which must be around 40 oz. Sometimes they tell us that it will be a bit longer because they have to cut more steaks for us, so you know the meats are locally provided and fresh. I never get the steak, opting for the split crab legs, served with drawn butter and a heaping mound of fries or mashed potatoes. For all the that service is slow, our food has never been delivered in any condition other than fresh and hot, and just the way we ordered it. The steaks are always cooked properly, and the crab legs are never rubbery or fishy tasting. The side dishes are plentiful. We always have leftovers - there is usually enough food to make two meals out of one order.
The prices at Fontana’s are pretty reasonable for the amount and quality of food you’re getting. The porterhouse meal goes for around $24.00, but like I said, two people could comfortably share it and not feel as though they were missing out. The beer and liquor is likewise nicely priced, so it’s a good place to have a few cocktails.
Come hungry, and willing to put up with indifferent service. Leave full, and with the makings of a midnight snack in a take-out box. Designate a driver, and get yourself a nice drink from the bar. But don’t expect frills and furbelows - this is a casual place that just happens to serve a great meal.
Fontana’s Supper Club
115 S Stephenson Ave
Iron Mountain, MI 49801
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 4:30 PM (cocktails), 5 PM (dinner) - about 9:00 PM, depending. Please note that Iron Mountain is in the Central Time Zone, unlike most of Michigan which is in Eastern. Plan accordingly.
Seasonal: No - open year round.
Kid Friendly: Yes
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Additional Notes: Parking and entrance in the back. Reservations available only if your party numbers 6 or more.