Tim Doherty opened his first Syrup in Cherry Creek North in 2012. Six years and two additional Syrups later the restaurateur opened Shanty Supper Club, an homage to the spots that informed his palette growing up in Milwaukee. The venue opened in July, filling the empty space left by the fairly short-lived New Orleans eatery Gumbo’s.
The space is refurbished, complete with an ornate bar — the material all having been reclaimed from an old ship from the 1890s. Aged wood and stained glass give the place the full luxury of a sumptuous captain’s chambers, and the mural on the wall completes the nautical theme. Seevie — a fixture of Lake Michigan folklore — the fisherman turned bootlegger who brought liquor across the lake from Canada during prohibition is the centerpiece. His stern visage covers much of the wall and a good portion of each menu — the old sea dog an appropriate emblem of a joint that is both family oriented and a touch raucous.
It is fairly intimate — 50 seats inside, 11 more at the bar and 20 rounding out the patio. Doherty wanted the place cozy — supper club tradition is founded on leisure, people are expected to dine family style, relishing the large portions and many sides. The founder hopes the place becomes a community hub. Friday night fish fries, Saturday night prime rib and Packer’s games pull together locals for intimate celebrations.
All the menu items are massive portions served up at a surprisingly reasonable price. The fried chicken ($14.99) is three utterly enormous pieces of freshly breaded bird served with two sides. In a world where small plates have become commonplace, Shanty stands in heroic opposition to the trend. The mashed potatoes and brown gravy are delightful but the fried corn on the cob might be the most decadent choice from a list that largely eschews anything that could be considered health-conscious. The Wisconsin butter burger ($13.99) may be the outer edge that particular breed of depravity — a half-pound patty essentially dressed in butter then topped with a healthy helping of cheddar, tomatoes and onions with your choice of side. If the chicken doesn’t get you, this beast will surely put you to bed early.
The drinks, while not particularly adventurous, succeed in being solidly well put together classics. Seevie’s Stash ($10) is Jim Beam Select cask-aged at Doherty’s lake house for no less than three months served either Old Fashioned or Manhattan style. In From the Storm ($8) is Stolen Smoked rum, fresh ginger, ginger beer, bitters and lime. The fresh ginger gives the drink a notch up from a run of the mill dark and stormy and the stylish glassware gives it an additional elegance.
Low key luxury permeates the whole place. The bathroom walls are lined in velvet and the sheer size of the meals suggest that moderate inclinations should be left at the door. Nothing about the place indicates its relationship to Syrup right off the bat, aside from Doherty’s frequent presence. While Syrup has successfully made its mark on the Denver brunch scene, Shanty proves the restaurant group’s versatility particularly when it concerns a cuisine so close to Doherty’s heart.
Shanty Supper Club is located at 1033 East 17th Ave., Denver. It is open Monday – Thursday 4 – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4 – 11 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
All photography by Alden Bonecutter.