Even if you’re missing the neon Pabst sign and vat of frying oil, you can channel a Wisconsin fish fry at home with the essential starter: a traditional relish tray.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
February 25, 2015
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Not hungry enough to want a relish tray with the Friday-night fish fry at Madison, Wisconsin's, Avenue Bar? No problem: Come back any other night and have the deluxe version off the appetizer menu. "It's a nod to the '20s and '30s, when supper clubs were a big thing," says head chef Christian Behr. "They always served a relish tray. And it's still this great dish that people love to gather around." Here's how he builds one.

The club vibe Sliced cheese and crackers aren't the small-town Wisconsin way. Go for thin, crunchy breadsticks and a cheese spread.

A pack of pickles Consider pickles another of the classic must-haves. Christian likes cornichon and dill pickle spears, but adds other pickled produce, like beets or asparagus.

Classic additions Tray tradition calls for black ripe olives or green pimiento-stuffed olives. Rebels might opt for a mix of marinated olives from the supermarket olive bar.

Vintage charm Thrift stores are treasure troves of vintage glass bowls and trays at super-affordable prices. "Any pretty tray works. It just needs to look nice," says Christian. No need to be matchy-matchy.

Fun pick-ups Cocktail forks are a little uptight for this scene. Colorful party toothpicks or plastic cocktail swords feel more festive and supper-clubby.