Michael Corvino’s new dining destination doubles as a social club, complete with a nightly floor show
If you look up the definition of ‘supper club,’ you’ll find a couple of different descriptions. The most current applies to underground restaurants or pop-up dining experiences, which is a bit ironic considering that the most recent address of chef Michael Corvino’s pedigree was The American. While that venerable institution has transformed into a pop-up shop, Corvino himself decided to dive into the original meaning of the term—a dining destination that doubles as a social club, complete with a nightly floor show.
Well, floor show might be overstating it a bit, but live music figures prominently into the Corvino Supper Club and Tasting Room concept. In reality, the food takes center stage and during dinner hours, solo instrumentalists offer soothing background music. When the late-night menu kicks in, so do the trios and quartets, and the vibe becomes more festive as well.
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The Supper Club has been described as two restaurants under one roof, but in fact, it seems to almost be three. The supper club side of the concept is where the à la carte menu shines—with shareable appetizers all the way up to a hefty 22-ounce bone-in rib eye. With a separate late-night menu that features a few dishes that are elegant takes on diner favorites, the Supper Club pulls a double whammy.
Through the not-so-secret door lies the Tasting Room where diners can watch chef Corvino work along side his talented staff as they prepare a ten-course tasting menu, wine pairings optional.Michael Corvino in the kitchen.
The restaurant is clearly a labor of love for Corvino and his wife and co-owner, Christina Corvino. Upon entering, diners slip into a sleek palette of grayscale: matte black tables fill an expansive dining room.
Plush banquettes line the walls. And over it all, flies the raven—Corvino’s Italian namesake.
There’s a lot to take in when looking at the dinner menu and for once, this menu is inclusive of all dietary restrictions, or can be made to be. Although the portions are not extravagant, they are easily shareable and enough to sate most appetites. Servers advise patrons to order two to four dishes per diner depending on hunger level. Christina Corvino is a vegetarian, so there are options on the menu that appeal to the non-carnivores—and they aren’t just a crudité plate.
As an example, the carrot and avocado salad was one of the simplest, yet most thoroughly satisfying dishes. It was a cold plate of roasted and raw carrots—the roasted carrots were whole, sweetened only by their natural sugars and a bit of black lime. They were interspersed with paper-thin slices of raw carrots and mint leaves, with pine nuts for crunch. Avocado chunks make an appearance as a textural contrast. Any dish where carrots can outshine the millennials’ favorite fruit is a good one indeed.
But one cannot live on vegetables alone. Corvino’s whipped chicken livers are served smeared on a freshly baked Parmesan cracker, the rich chicken-liver mousse punctuated with crispy honey bits and anchovies. Fresh radishes, thinly sliced on top, cut the richness with a peppery bite.
While there are many Asian influences on the menu, the crab fried rice is the most markedly so. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, it’s simply perfected. The rice is a perfect proportion of crispy bits and soft, luscious crab. Serrano peppers lend a subtle heat and Asian pear pops up as a surprise hit of sweet crunch. A little wilted shiso and basil finishes it off.When one orders the Chinese broccoli, the most basic of vegetables gets star treatment.
For something completely different, try the pork pozole. For this, Corvino looked to his chef de cuisine, Dina Butterfield. Originally from Mexico, she knows what pozole—a hominy stew—should taste like. She nails the flavors of tomatillo, rich pork broth and chewy hominy but does it in a way that can actually be shared. While not as brothy as the traditional presentation, this version gives patrons more to dig into with thick slices of roasted pork, fresh cilantro and a tortilla loaded with fresh cheese. The brightness of the dish comes from chopping fresh tomatillos with fresh Serrano peppers and hanging them so that the juices seep out. The juice is then added to a rich broth of pork necks and trotters while the remaining vegetables are sprinkled as a relish on top.Pork Pozole with a twist: a deconstructed pork and hominy stew.
Dishes like these are only available during dinner hours though. What about those that need sustenance after 9 p.m.? Well, they grab a burger, of course. Corvino does bar fare with as much love and care as he does his dinner menu. The late-night menu features a handful of items ranging from delectable salt-cod croquettes that would feel right at home at a bar in Galicia to a pork-belly sandwich on a freshly baked English muffin. There’s also a whimsical selection of desserts, including an ice cream sandwich.From the late-night menu, the pork belly sandwich is the perfect end to an evening.
But the burger is the thing here, both for carnivores and herbivores. Two versions—one made of freshly ground chuck and topped with muenster cheese, charred onions and sour pickles and the other using a roasted maitake mushroom topped with muenster cheese—will please almost everyone. They share a texture that will seem familiar—the patties and mushrooms are cooked on a plancha, which reaches a higher heat than a standard griddle so they have the crispy edges that one expects from Town Topic at 3 a.m. but won’t make you feel like you ate at Town Topic at 3 a.m. due to freshly made buns, top-notch ingredients and handmade condiments.
Amanda Schroader, most recently the assistant pastry chef at The American, is whipping up desserts, such as the stout cake sundae, which combines dense stout cake with a whiskey sauce, salty pretzel bits and rich Irish cream ice cream.
Of course, no supper club would be complete without a cocktail or two. Ryan Miller, formerly of The Rieger Hotel, has created a small but creative cocktail menu based on the classics. The Old Fashioned tops the list, but you can pick your poison, either Basil Hayden bourbon, Knob Creek rye, Appleton 12 year Jamaican rum, or Camus VSOP cognac.
If you’re looking for something more unusual, try the Toki Time. Although this is a whiskey-based cocktail, it uses the up-and-coming Japanese whiskey, Suntory Whisky Toki, and blends it with bright, fresh, green flavors like cucumber, ginger and honey. The resulting libation is much lighter than most whisky haters might expect—a perfect summer cocktail.
The menu is still firming up, but chef Corvino says that the late-night diner favorites will stick around. Rather than chasing the most in-season ingredients, he’s refining each dish into its best form, while still allowing for improvisation.
The establishment that he and his wife have created is ambitious—the food, drinks, and music make for a trendy ambience. They pull it off with a consummate staff that seems to wholeheartedly believe in the mission. From the first hello to the complimentary ginger cookies delivered with the check, there’s a warmth to the place that supersedes the sleek interior and undeniable cool of the room.
Make no mistake; this is where the cool kids will hang out, listen to music, and drink. But after the new wears off, the Corvinos are creating a restaurant that can stand the test of time.