By John Garland
Photos by Daniel Murphy
Eleven years ago, The Sample Room began serving a “small plates” menu before it was trendy. Now, a former sous chef returns to make his mark on the ever-evolving Northeast barroom.
A century ago, the Gluek Brewery occupied three acres of riverfront land in Northeast Minneapolis. The north side of the complex, with its towering smokestack and stately masonry, loomed over the two-story building next door at 2124 Marshall Street NE. It was there that a former Gluek’s bartender operated a small hotel. Kegs would roll from the brewery to the ground floor saloon called The Sample Room where thirsty millers and loggers could try out the new beers.
The Glueks would likely appreciate The Sample Room’s modern incarnation, housed in the same building and still a gathering spot for tapping the neighborhood’s newest kegs. The restaurant was among the first to serve beer from Boom Island Brewing and 612Brew, and that’s why new head chef Matt Knudsen was excited to return to the Northeast tippling temple.
“Beer has been one of the driving forces for me wanting to work here,” he says. “I’m a beer guy. That’s how my palate works and this has always been a place that’s encouraged beer pairing. We were one of the first to have Fulton on tap.” He gestures across the room and we notice Fulton’s co-founder Brian Hoffman sitting down to lunch. “Brian was selling to us here back when they were still kegging out in their garage,” he recalls. “It’s a point of pride to have such a strong selection from the area.”