Amsterdam Grand Opening this weekend: a first look

Rock and nosh in Saint Paul

Rock and nosh in Saint Paul

While they've quietly been open for a little over a week now, this weekend the new Amsterdam Bar and Hall in downtown St. Paul officially throws open the doors and cranks it up to 11.

It's owned by the Oulman family, the same ones that brought the 331 to life in Nordeast. They've transformed the former Pop!/Fhima space into a rugged cool, that feels like a proper home to the Minneapolis/St. Paul music scene.  A glass-backed bar, tons of taps, and a full menu welcome everyone from club kids to the downtown lunch crew. We were able to get in earlier this week and have a quick look around, sample some food, and knock back a couple of drinks.

[jump] The menu selection includes small plates, diminutive sandwiches, salads, and desserts, all Dutch influenced. The charcutiere plate featured sliced chorizo, salami, tomato jam, olives, and a fresh-from-the-kitchen terrine, porky lush, mildly flavored, and uninhibited with the fat--in a good way--for $7.95. Other dishes we sampled were the loempias, crispy fried Indonesian style spring rolls stuffed with sliced chicken and burgundy-colored, caramelized onions, $5.95.

The small sandwiches, the broodjes, are meant to be ordered in multiples. The little buns they're served on are shiny tan domes enveloping their toppings. We sampled the roasted tomato, which was a rich, ruby color and full of sweet, seasonal acidity, paired beautifully with a nutty brown ale.

The drinks are expertly crafted and plentiful. Our favorite drink selection was a drop shot, like a Boilermaker, but the beer was a rich, nutty brown ale and the shot in question was toasty, espresso-infused vodka. The pair works a bit of flavor magic, arriving like adult molasses on your molars. Other drink specialties included a shot of Boomsma, a Dutch distilled spirit served in a special glass. The idea is to fold your hands behind your back and sip the top layer of the liquor off the glass before shooting the entire thing and chasing it with an ale. If you're not looking for something Dutch or beer based, the shimmering bar holds bottle after bottle of familiar spirits, and an attentive staff will ensure you never run dry.

Before leaving, we had to try the pot brownie.  They have four varieties that are subject to availability and none are actually cannabis laden; rather, they come served in a small cast-iron skillet. Our selection was deeply chocolate flavored and topped with freshly whipped cream that was barely sweet at all, a nice balance to the sweet cocoa nuttiness, $4.


This weekend's grand opening festivities begin with the Friday September 23 EP release from Communist Daughter. Good food, great drinks, and seriously awesome music: The Amsterdam is set to be a real contender for our new, favorite St. Paul drink, dine, and groove destination.