Local lore has it that the 5 O’Clock Club used to be a hangout for mafia types.
Whether that’s true or not is up for debate, but with its retro-chic mirrored walls and dim lighting, it’s not far fetched to imagine “the boys” as Frank Sinatra referred to them, stopping in for a drink at this legendary Milwaukee steakhouse.
Over the years, the 5 O’Clock (2416 W. State Street) has developed a loyal following, and for good reason. The steaks are some of the best in the city. We made our first foray into the gated parking lot looked over by a seriously “don’t mess with me” attendant on Tuesday and walked through the oversized door sporting “Reservations Required.”
While we did have the prerequisite 7:30 reservation, the hostess didn’t really seem concerned, telling us in what sounded like a cross between a Wisconsin and a New Jersey accent, if that’s possible, to have a seat at the bar and we’d be taken care of soon.
We cozied up to the long, dark bar and ordered a couple of glasses of reasonably priced Merlot. Meanwhile, our waitress stopped by and took our order, assuring us she’d have our table set up within moments. True to her word, she returned a few moments later to escort us through the packed dining room to a small table laden with a silver relish dish full of green olives, pickled peppers, carrots, radishes, and onions. We also found bread sticks, salad, three kinds of dressing, a loaf of warm bread, some honey, butter, and a bread knife so large it could’ve been used as a prop on the Pirates of the Caribbean set.
We polished off the salad and bread just as our steaks arrived, along with some steak frites for me and a baked potato for Scott.
Scott’s filet mignon and my New York strip were both dark and glistening on the outside, cooked to medium perfection on the inside and accompanied by some button mushrooms on the side. My steak –actually it was more like a massive slab of meat - was so big I felt like some kind of lioness! But man was it good! I couldn’t even eat half of it.
And not because the couple next to us were getting so, uh… affectionate, that I thought I would have to brandish the bread knife and tell them to get a room.
Anyway, while we were finishing up, the place started to clear out. We were a little surprised because it was only 8:30, but then again, Milwaukee is an early-dining kind of town. Naturally, the leave-takers did not include the PDA people. They ordered dessert.
We, on the other hand, had absolutely no room for dessert. Deciding to call it a night, we paid our check and headed home, wondering quietly to ourselves if the gangster-related legends were true.