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DeRusha Eats: The Sample Room & Its Re-Boot

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
Jason DeRusha filed his first report for WCCO-TV on April Fool's D...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Long before small plates became a hot trend at restaurants around the country, a small restaurant in northeast Minneapolis was serving up delicious sharable bites.

The Sample Room’s been re-booting with a new chef.

Relative to the history of its late 1880s building, The Sample Room is a baby — celebrating just its 11th birthday.

“We’re long in the tooth as it applies to hospitality,” managing partner Darren Ennis said.

Ennis has watched as the Twin Cities restaurant world has grown, and how his own place continues to change.

When it opened in 2002, The Wall Street Journal took notice, writing “Old idea tapas. New name: Samples.”

” It’s fun, smaller stuff. It’s easy, it’s more intriguing, a little more artistic,” Chef Geoff Hausmann.

Hausmann just started last year and now the menu is truly his own.

He was part of the team that opened critically-acclaimed Travail in Robbinsdale.

He’s a charcuterie expert, manipulating and curing meats into magical flavors.

Pork and beef is pressed with herbs into a delicious loaf — the Italian beef sandwich re-imagined.

“I had one server say it changed his life,” Hausmann said.

The Midwestern Nicoise salad has smoked trout and pickled egg.

Hausmann convinced Darrin to get a fryer, as it is northeast Minneapolis after all. And the hand-cut fries are killer.

The head cheese is boiled in Grain Belt Nordeast beer.

“Eleven years later, I can truly say we’re better than we were when we opened up,” Hausmann said.

The Sample Room is open for lunch and dinner. On Saturday’s they open at 3 p.m. and serve until midnight.

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