Pheasant's revenge and other twists on American classics at Tortoise Club

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Tortoise Club looks like a place your great-grandfather frequented—if he was a rich old white guy like onetime Sears chairman Robert E. Wood, whose portrait is ensconced there on a lipstick-red wall above a fireplace. Wood was great-grandpop to owner Keene Addington III, who transformed this quasi-subterranean space in Marina City (formerly a fitness center) into a mahogany and leather facsimile of a dining club from the last century. But it's not stuffy: the vibe is warm and informal, service is attentive without being intrusive, and Wednesdays through Saturday nights there's a mellow background of live jazz from the lounge up front.

The relatively limited menu offers "classic” American food with a muscular "twist." An order of a half-dozen oysters included a trio of "Pickle Points" too true to their name; beef barley soup with Guinness was a savory, peppery, near-goulash. The large, tender Berkshire pork chop, a house specialty, rested on a bed of spinach and pearl onions, the whole thing doused with a maple-bourbon sauce not enough removed from the stuff we usually pour over pancakes. Wild pheasant pie, another house specialty, could be gamy, but wasn’t: it had a buttery crust, a dash of delicious foie gras-cognac gravy, and a filling reminiscent of (I don't mean this in a bad way) Pepperidge Farm turkey stuffing, amplified with shredded bird and vegetables. It arrived with a flag of fried skin planted in its center—a decorative flourish that's supposed to be edible, but has a lingering revenge-of-the-pheasant flavor. Dessert choices include standards like pecan pie, warm brownie, and tiny scoops of good "homemade" ice cream.

Tortoise Club, 350 N. State, 312 -755-1700, tortoiseclub.com

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