Confession: I’ve recently had the urge to go to bed at 10 pm almost every night. Maybe it’s because I’ve been working long hours, maybe it’s because the days are beginning to get shorter, or maybe because I’m lazy. Regardless, I was surprised to find myself up at 9:30 last week and still wide awake. I think this calls for a celebration. Late Night Happy Hour!!!!!!
I called up fellow Minneapolite, Sam, and talked her into joining me for a late night drink. I think the cheap prices helped my cause because she gave in way too easily. The Sample Room it is.
The Sample Room is located right off the Mississippi along Marshall Street. Its lot has quite the history of Minneapolis big-wig owners including Pierre Bottineau and Gottlieb Gluek (founder of Gluek brewery). The two story brick building started out as a hotel and popular saloon in the late 19th century and it continues to be a draw in the neighborhood today. I first visited The Sample Room in college with a friend for their wine flights and have been frequenting ever since. I may have subconsciously stayed awake tonight just so we could stop by — it had been too long.
We promptly found a parking spot in their private lot — a little different from the Psycho Suzi’s parking experience down the road. After walking past the small and intimate patio, already full, we grabbed a seat inside. Though we were a bit disappointed to be stuck inside on a cool fall night, the intimacy and cozy environment on the patio extends indoors as well.
The vibe is neighborly and welcoming. We found a high top next to the bar and settled in. Sam ordered a whiskey ginger ($3) and I order a whiskey sour ($3). Neither drink was anything fancy, but with a whiskey drink I tend to look for strength, not aesthetic.
At this hour we really didn’t need food, but the options were just too tempting and affordable to pass up. The Sample Room doesn’t skimp on their bites: Lamb Crostata ($5), Pate with flatbread crackers ($3, a favorite of my husband’s), and a Roasted Veggie Tort ($5) with goat cheese, parmesan, and roasted red pepper sour cream were some of the enticing options. But, we absolutely could not resist the Warm Smoked Rainbow Trout Spread served with their crumbly flatbread crackers ($5).
Unfortunately my phone’s antiquated camera did not do this dish justice. If you only could see – or smell! – how alluring it was you would understand.
I dove in with my sturdy flatbread cracker, scooped up some spread, and mmmmm, I fell into a creamy, cheesy coma. The Trout melted away in my mouth without hiding its flavor and the cracker added just enough grainy texture to break up the smooth bites. I think I would have downed the spread in three bites if I had used spoon instead of the crackers. We asked for a second round of crackers (no charge) to finish off every last ounce of the spread and then grabbed our tab.
The nice thing about a happy hour this inexpensive… you can spring for the check! Grab your girlfriend, boss or the friend you owe for watching your dog, and hit up the Sample Room’s afternoon (3-6 pm, Monday-Friday) or late-night (10 pm-midnight, Sunday-Thursday) happy hour. Your guest will love the food and ambiance; you’ll love treating them to such a fun and affordable night!
Laid back and quiet. The kind of place I would bring a book to or join in a stimulating conversation with a friend. Not for a bar hopping, crazy kind of night.
Again, laid back and quiet. Our server was timely, wandering over when we were drooling over the menu, but didn’t sit and chat about food options too long or jump into small talk.
Classic beauty. They don’t dress up the drinks or dishes too much, but they let the natural beauty of the piece speak for itself.
I could have eaten three more servings off the trout spread. Not because it was light or unfilling–that definitely was not the case–but because it tasted that good. I’ve also had their veggie tort and homemade hummus in the past. Rich, delicious food all around.
Value for Dollars
The happy hour menu is meant to please. $2 Grain Belts, $3 rails, taps and wines, and great food options for cheap. Make sure to bring your special someone here when it’s your turn to foot the bill.
But don’t take my word for it: