Restaurant Review: The Sample Room in Northeast Minneapolis

J and I headed out for a quick dinner tonight, and couldn’t figure out where we wanted to eat over in Northeast Minneapolis.  The place that we had originally thought about going to, Anchor Fish & Chips, was packed out.  And so, on the fly, we decided to check out The Sample Room. It turned out to be a fortuitous accident on our part. Reasonably priced and good food in a cozy space made this an excellent place for our date.

I had always been a bit nervous to go since the menu has quite the charcuterie selection — none of which appeal to me, but my dad and J seem to be appreciative of these.  So, in my head, I had previously relegated this cozy dining space to a place that J and my dad could visit when I wasn’t around. This was a definite mistake on my part as I think of what delights we may have been missing out on for the past couple of years.

Everything we ordered was fantastic.  J got a burger with organic grass-fed beef, gooey cheddar, crispy onions, pork belly, and mustard aioli.  Best burger I’ve tasted outside of the Nook over in St Paul; being compared with the Nook is about the highest praise for a burger than I can bestow.

We also shared the daily vegetable and the fennel-potato chowder. Today’s daily vegetable was spaghetti squash, along with asparagus, and then underneath that was pureed cauliflower.  I never would have thought to put these flavors and textures together, but it turned out awesome.  Additionally, the soup was the best soup that I’ve gotten at a restaurant in a very long, long time — velvety, creamy, and with bites of perfectly cooked potato.

And on a surprising note for me who hates most pickled things, the pickled vegetables that came with my fish dish were also spectacular; I was assuming that I would hate them and they’d sit untouched.  But they were so good, I ate them all, and left my fries. I never do that.

Great blend of small plates, sandwiches, and pastas on the menu; there were so many things that I wanted to try that we didn’t get a chance to today.  So, we’ll definitely be going back.  And probably sooner rather than later. Though one note of caution: get there early because J and I aren’t the only ones who think this place is awesome.  It gets hoppin’ by 5:45 on a Friday night.

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