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I first walked through the doors of Tommy's 3 years ago. Upon entering the "lounge" it instantly became one of my favorite spots in the city. The main reason for my love of this unique establishment is pure nostalgia. I grew up in Wisconsin and almost every Friday night was taken to a "Supper Club" for the "Friday Night Fish Fry". Tommy's decor is/was the definition of an old school "Supper Club". It reminds me of childhood and a time before the endless manufactured decor of chains like TGI McFunsters.
Tommy's is known for their Prime Rib, which I must say is quite good. However my favorite is their fried catfish. It has a flaky and buttery almost cracker like hand breaded crust that adds a smooth depth to the taste of the sweet meat. It's also my way of getting my "Friday Night Fish Fry" fix in an area where people look at me strangely when I talk about it.
I always felt like I had gone back in time when sitting in Tommy's lounge. So, "When in Rome" - I made sure my cocktail was an old school choice, one that is VERY popular in Wisconsin to this day - yet is considered a "classic" everywhere else. An "Old Fashioned." There are many ways of making this drink, by my prep of choice is Southern Comfort, Sprite, Grenadine and an orange slice, cherry and olive.
In recent months Tommy's has been taken over by new management. The standard greeting and goodbye by Tommy standing at the register is no more. It was a nice touch and made you feel welcome especially since Tommy knew everyone by name, even if you only dined with them once. It is still a great place to visit for a taste of nostalgia. However as with all things over time - change is under way. The dining room has just undergone an upgrade, and I must say - I think it looks great. Gone is the older wallpaper, and some other decor that gave it a dated feel. However, the main dining room is not the reason I go to Tommy's. Its the lounge.
The lounge is what defined a preserved era gone by. I would go as far as calling the decor "delightfully tacky". It had white Christmas lights lining the mirror and fake plants year round. A steady flow of "yacht rock" from artists like Seals and Croft, Christopher Cross, Hall and Oates and more played over the sound system. With dark mood lighting of a late 70's or early 80's supper club. Yet you didn't feel like anything was out of place. It just felt right. It was a unique experience that I hope they bring back after the renovations to the lounge are complete. The Christmas lights are gone, as well as the plants. The last time I was in, I had to endure a Ricky Martin tune as I sipped on my Old Fashioned. Many of the patrons who frequent Tommy's do so because of the retro atmosphere, and have probably been going here since what is now "retro" was current. Changes aside, I still love this place. I truly hope that the atmosphere that makes Tommy's so unique is not lost in the myriad of changes that are taking place.