Shock o’ Zulu

Are you in there, Dr. Livingston?

Are you in there, Dr. Livingston?

Photo By Todd Upton

Supper Club Zulu

1537 S. Virginia St.
Reno, NV 89502

(775) 333-9858

The Supper Club Zulu is a weird place.

“We’ve never been here before,” I warn our waitress. “What can you tell us about it?”

“This whole place …” she pauses, as though unsure what to say next, “has an African theme.”

This is both totally obvious and completely incorrect. It feels more like a fictional hangout for elephant-shooting British colonialists, like Colonel Mustard of the board game Clue. There’s a huge dance floor/dining area, a couple of bars, a couple of lounges and a very mysterious “VIP room.”

There are African masks on the walls and trophy heads of big animals, but there are also Christmas lights and disco balls, celebrity photos of A-listers like Chuck Norris and Harry from Harry and The Hendersons. There are large bookcases that either contain real books or serve as secret passageways to the conservatory.

Pamphlets list the upcoming events: Hawaiian luaus, jazz nights, Celtic nights, disco nights, monthly appearances by Frank Stallone, knife-throwing shows and monthly Halloween parties ("Pirates Welcome!"). The pamphlet boasts, “We service the 23 and older crowd.” You can’t make this stuff up.

The regular hostess is Olivia Chan, a model who, apparently, has appeared in the Victoria’s Secret catalog.

The men’s room is lit with black lights. Did you know that pee glows in blacklight? Well, it does, and it’s just one of the many things I learned at Supper Club Zulu.

When Sara and I and our friends Paul and Kaleb visited, it was “Western Swing Night.” A few older couples were demonstrating Western swing dancing, set to some legitimate Western swing and country music as well as a little Michael Jackson and Simple Minds thrown in for some obscure reason.

The food is not the least bit African. Kaleb had the “Northwest Territory” chicken roulade for $18, and Paul ordered the “cold plate anti pasta” for $12. It came with meats and cheeses, olives and tomatoes and an order of black bean soup for an extra $5.

Sara had “King Jomo’s Caesar salad,” a $9 treat, plus an extra $4 for grilled chicken. It was a rather loose interpretation of the classic salad.

I went with “Emperor Kublai Khan’s Asian duck salad” for $16. The salad came with cabbage, green apple and wonton noodle salad topped with seasoned duck. It was good, though probably not 16 dollars-good, since it was basically glorified coleslaw adorned with meager strips of fowl.

For dessert, Sara and I split a tiramisu for $6 that was fairly impressive. Our waitress, the one who so keenly pointed out the African theme, was very awkward. She kept stumbling, and she spoke really slowly. She seemed even more confused by the place than we were. She filled three of our water glasses immediately, but poor Kaleb didn’t get any water for another 20 minutes. This is not a place to visit with any after-dinner plans because it might be a long time before you’ll get out of there. It took over an hour before we were served our appetizers, the deep-fried zucchini for $8. It arrived accompanied by the rest of our dinner. But other people I’ve talked to have had really great service here. The place is a total wild card. The food and the service, like the entertainment and decor, are quite eccentric. But in a town full of fast food chains, it’s nice to see a place this unique. The food is overpriced, the environment is strange and the service we got was horrendous, but I still recommend it just for sheer spectacle. Think of it as a great, unknown adventure. Like a safari.