Late Monday morning, JD Fratzke found his name—alongside that of Falls Landing, his restaurant located 45 minutes south of the Twin Cities—printed in the New York Times Style Magazine in a piece titled “The Chefs Reinventing the Midwestern Supper Club.”
He did not see it coming.
You see, thanks to Bushwick’s brand-new Turk’s Inn, a legendary Wisconsin supper club transported bit by bit from the Midwest and resurrected in Brooklyn this summer by Varun Kataria and Tyler Erickson (two childhood pals also from Minneapolis), the Times’ Ligaya Mishan shouted out Fratzke’s work at his similarly new-as-of-June stronghold in Cannon Falls.
Still, makes for a pretty solid Monday, right?
I called up Fratzke to chat about whether he thought The Gray Lady had fully appreciated “our” supper club culture from their vantage point over yonder—since they recognize he’s among those nailing it—and, if not, what he thought they’d missed.
“See, here’s the funny thing…. When we were first announcing the opening date [of Falls Landing] and everything, I went out of my way to tell people that I didn’t want Falls Landing to be perceived as a supper club,” Fratzke explained, delicately. “And it was so funny because the first, like, three pieces of press that came out, all of them referred to it as supper club, supper club, supper club.”
And now the Times has done it again, but he’s not upset about it. The root of Falls Landing finding itself in this category again and again—whether on a local or national stage—comes down to familiarity, and sometimes a lack of a touchstone with which to categorize it beyond the supper club genre. Though he respects establishments like Turk’s Inn (in its original and new incarnations), Fratzke’s aim is a little less outwardly… cool.
What inspired Fratzke was something older, more distanced from what he refers to as the “noise” of cooking and hospitality, nearer to the root of restaurants more than a hundred years ago.
In practical terms, this means the food on your plate was more of a subsistence meal. “Yes, there might be a cut of steak on the menu, but if it did, it came from the farm down the road. More likely than not, what you were eating in the dining room that night was walleye and muskies in the lake over what you were seeing.”
Then suddenly Fratzke offered up an image that conjured a feeling of a meal I won’t soon forget: ”I wanted it to feel like the place at the end of the gravel two-track where you start to see the silver of the lake through the trees, you know what I mean?… That, I guess, is what I wanted to get back to, and what I hope people discover and get that feeling from when they come to Falls Landing. I wanted it to feel like the great-granddaddy of a supper club, and I think we’re pulling that off.”
To be sure, there are commonalities between Falls Landing and those supper clubs certain East Coast journalists are talking about. It’s in this deep feeling, and underlying humanity. “To be able to come in, that egalitarian approach, that’s the thing they touched on that I really identified with.”
Just don’t expect a relish tray or Jell-O. You gotta go to Brooklyn for that. Or maybe Wisconsin.
1223 4th St S, Cannon Falls