First Look

The Clover Club Has Uptown Buzzing

Hunter Sullivan and his band entertain dinner guests.
Hunter Sullivan and his band entertain dinner guests. Louis Rajsich
click to enlarge LOUIS RAJSICH
Louis Rajsich
The traditional Clover Club cocktail is gin, lemon juice, dry vermouth, raspberry syrup and egg white. It's considered one of the classics every bartender should know. It has a nice sweetness balanced by the botanical flavors of dry vermouth, and topped with egg white for show. We'd say it's about the same for Dallas' newest "throwback" supper club, The Clover Club — good foundation, a little extra something for intrigue, and a show and a view to top it off.

The Clover Club opened in the former Teddy's Room/Nikkei space a couple of months back, and we had, admittedly, a little trepidation. Call it superstitious because the other concepts in that space (no matter how great the design and offerings) never seemed to make it, or call us font snobs because their first invitation was sent in Comic Sans. Either way, we were eager to see how its debut fared in the Uptown scene.

With the promise of a cocktail program by the inimitable Eddie "Lucky" Campbell (Parliament, The Standard Pour) and food from Anthony Van Camp (formerly of Al Biernat's, SER), the supper club has talent coming through the kitchen, bar and stage. They brought in local singer and bandleader Hunter Sullivan to fill their stage almost nightly. Sullivan planned to bring in musical talent from nightclub crooners covering standards to big band orchestras, and he's packed the schedule.

click to enlarge Hunter Sullivan and his band entertain dinner guests. - LOUIS RAJSICH
Hunter Sullivan and his band entertain dinner guests.
Louis Rajsich
The idea was to create a respite for a slightly more mature crowd. Seeing as we've had neighbors at the bar in rhinestone jumpsuits and Chanel suits, we're still not sure if the "mature" part is ringing true, but they do seem to welcome everyone. (Well, almost everyone. The dining room requires the gents to wear pants. So shorts-clad guys won't be welcome.)

You're given three options when you arrive — get a table for the show (requires a minimum of one entree per person for "free" entry), sidle up to the bar and soak up the sounds of the show with a slightly impeded view, or visit their rooftop for a whole different view.

But, climb to the rooftop and take in the view with your cocktails, and it's a whole new world. They brought in misters and fans to keep guests cool, and we'll admit that it's not unbearable up there. Just steer clear of the bees that frequent the space for happy hour. (Yes, they're working on a humane way to relocate the hive.)

Their bar team offers a wide selection of well-made cocktails — look for plenty of classic offerings, a short list of their slants on a few classics and some in-house specialty cocktails. (We're not sure how many "mature" visitors will understand the meaning of the cocktail named Cardi Bee — tangerine and ginger-infused gin, honey, lemon, cardamom ($14) — and I guess calling it the Bee Arthur didn't have the same ring to it.) For those looking for something with a little lower ABV, the wine list is approachable with familiar marks available by the glass, but they only offer around 10 beer options on the menu.

On a recent visit, the bar menu seemed a bit too adventurous for the packed room. At one seating, drinks took 25, 30 then 35 minutes to reach the table after ordering — a delay causing real frustration, but it's something that's hopefully being addressed in the first few months of business.

click to enlarge The Clover Club's culinary program is headed up by Anthony Van Camp. - LOUIS RAJSICH
The Clover Club's culinary program is headed up by Anthony Van Camp.
Louis Rajsich
The food menu is fine: It offers a lobster bisque we haven't seen on menus since the 1990s. Unfortunately, it's not as good as we remember from those days; this version was thick, lacking in flavor and covering large lobster pieces. We don't mind the latter, but trying to cut those with the spoon through the thick mass that was allegedly soup proved nearly impossible.

The mushroom soup was better, involving tangy bites from a heap of goat cheese. But again, someone in the kitchen is over-thickening these soups (usually a rare issue).

The lobster pot stickers were fine, as was the foie gras: nothing to write home about, nothing offensive to the palate. What did fit that description was service on a recent visit when we got through the foie and soups in a matter of nearly two hours.

The two bowls of soup sat nearly full on the table for 35 minutes. Our server did take off the food we clearly didn't like, but the lack of "Sorry we're slow, we know you're really thirsty, but we're going to take enough time to make a drink to where you could watch more than a full episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, including commercials" was a bummer.

In general, The Clover Club is bringing us something new, yet old in feel. If they work out the issues that are hopefully just initial growing pains, this could be a Dallas spot we've been waiting for.

The Clover Club, 2404 Cedar Springs Road, Suite 400 (Uptown).
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.
Susie Oszustowicz