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April 12, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Fine dining is not something that people expect to find in the heart of the MU campus, surrounded by a noisy parking garage, a busy athletic field, a row of fraternity houses and the towering rotunda of Jesse Hall. But the second floor of the Donald W. Reynolds Alumni Center is home to the University Club, a private venue for social functions, banquet events or a quiet dinner.
Dining is limited to members only, but the club will allow nonmembers to make reservations for graduation weekend this May. It will offer a graduation dinner buffet on May 11 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for $24.95, and on May 12, there will be a graduation brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for $20.95. In total, the club has about 1,200 members who pay $275 annually. Four percent of members are students, whose membership costs $75 a year.
White tablecloths and fine silverware give the dining room a distinguished feel. The adjoining Tiger Bistro has a full bar with wines from Missouri and around the world, chairs with tiger-print upholstery and a picturesque view of Jesse Hall through three windows.
General Manager John LaRocca says the Filet Fairbanks, a grilled beef tenderloin topped with jumbo shrimp, king crab meat and béarnaise sauce, is one of the most popular catered dishes for the club, which has been in the Alumni Center for almost 20 years. The lunch buffet changes every day, and the dinner menu changes seasonally.
LaRocca says Executive Chef Daniel Pliska, who has been with the club since 1998, prepares a variety of dishes made from local beef, pork, trout and cheese. The Tiger Tail, a chocolate mousse with mango or passion fruit sauce, is a popular dessert item.
Every Thursday night has a theme. Mediterranean Night on April 19 will feature entrees such as roasted leg of lamb, baked cod, Moroccan couscous and tomato farcies.
And when fall arrives, University Club offers a special buffet for each home tailgate, which both members and nonmembers can attend.