Tag Archives: music

Urban Olive & Vine – Hudson, WI


It’s Wine Wednesday!

So it’s time to do my first Restaurant Impression

of a Wine Bar!

Okay, so Urban Olive & Vine in Hudson, Wisconsin, is not just a wine bar. It is also part restaurant, bakery, tea room, music venue and specialty shop. They will even put together a picnic for you to take to go! It’s the perfect place to stop in historic downtown Hudson whether you are hungry, thirsty, in need of a pick-me-up or just poking around.

But I’m calling it a Wine Bar for now because that is the main reason why we made the trek across the state line over the St. Croix River to this joint. Yes, that’s right. We went to visit our friend Jared who started working at the Urban Olive & Vine as the Wine Specialist a few weeks prior.

While I have done in-home wine tastings in Hudson before, I’ve never stopped downtown. What a cute little street with shops and eateries galore. Signs directing where to park were very well-marked. Much easier than downtown Minneapolis.

We wandered into the quaint little shop and didn’t see the wine bar. Rob was about to grab the only little two-person table available when I motioned that I saw a room in the back. That had to be it. And sure enough, it was. In the back, we found a cluster of more tables and seats at the bar. Little did we know that this room, empty except for another couple at the bar and Jared at the ready, would be full before we left.

We intended to spend some time here sipping wine (or beer – they have a great bottled beer list, too), having dinner and just relaxing. Jared noted that there would be music that night, too; as they always have live music on Saturdays.

Both the wine menu and bottled beer menu (there are none on tap) are well-rounded. There’s a little something for just about every palate. In addition, you’ll probably find something new that you haven’t heard of or had before. A wine from Uruguay? I hadn’t had one yet.

Of course, I started with a bit of bubbly because they do offer splits {aka tiny bottles of tiny bubbles}! The bottle I received was different from what was on the menu. But I understood. Things change. And I was happy with flavor and the effervescence. Ahhh…

Look at those bubbles! {…and Jared pouring wine in the background!}

The beers are listed by style similarly to what they do at The Happy Gnome:

Bottled craft beers listed by style…

…with several Wisconsin breweries representing! {Oh how I love you, Rush River Bubble Jack!}

The food menu is what you’d expect from a coffee-and-sandwich-shop-type place. There are lots of sandwiches and salads; but there are also flatbread pizzas. One of the other things this place has going for it is that they really cater to the gluten-free crowd. All of their sandwiches and pizzas can be made with gluten-free bread and pizza dough. A friend of mine told me that it’s often difficult to find places that offer substitutions. And while it’s getting a lot better in the Twin Cities, I’m sure it is fairly hard to come by in smaller metropolises. {Did I just use that word?!}

Keep in mind that my husband and I do not follow a gluten-free diet and therefore, the pictures of what we ordered aren’t of gluten-free menu items. {And I actually have no idea if they would even look or taste different from what we ordered.}

To start, we stepped outside of the box and decided to order a grilled cheese sandwich to split as an appetizer.

Aren’t we so crazy?! 😉

Grown Up Grilled Cheese: Swiss, Havarti, Granny Smith Apple, Honey

Rob’s entrée:

Sicilian Flatbread Pizza: artisan sausage, red onion, roasted red pepper, chopped pepperoncini, mozzarella

I ordered a ciabatta sandwich and soup combo:

Tomato Basil Soup & The Richie Sandwich: ham, brie cheese, mango sauce, red onion

The Verdict? It’s pretty much what you’d expect from a little coffee shop. Very good, but not mind-blowing. Also, I like my hot sandwiches to be warm, not just toasted and crunchy. Still, you’ll find good comfort food served cleverly on cutting boards. Nice presentation and I liked the veggies and dip touch. {Note to self: Get the baked brie next time!}

As we dined and enjoyed a few glasses of wine and beer, we were captivated by some absolutely incredible voices emanating from the next room. Sure, we couldn’t see the faces of these muses, but we were swept away by their melodies. At one point, I could have sworn that it was Adele herself in the next room.

So I made my way in to get a closer look and listen:

Devine Collection with Russ King

From the Urban Olive & Vine website, here is the description of the group we heard:

“Award winning vocalists from the pop/soul group “Devine Collection” will be accompanied by keyboardist, Russ King, at Urban Olive &Vine. Devine Collection features three female vocalists joined together from some of the hottest Twin Cities bands, including The New Congress, Root City Band, 8 Switch Assembly and Copasetic. Each has gained national attention and recognition for their talents. Russ King has performed at major venues across the globe, including two tours in Iraq in 2010 with Keri Noble and The New Congress; opened for Prince at Paisley Park during the Musicology Tour; a performance in Lagos, Nigeria, with Alexander O’Neal and Wyclef Jean; and most recently was hired as musical director for Grammy nominated Eric Roberson at the Dakota Jazz Club. We have some fun and exciting music planned. There’s a little something for everybody with our style and song selection.”

Before we knew it, three hours had passed. I guess this is what happens when you have a filling meal, tasty beverages, top notch entertainment and the best service ever. 😉

But an hour before we left, I was sure to get a pot of tea. {I did have to drive home, you know!} And how could I not order tea here with an extensive five-page list of options? I wasn’t sure if they’d be able to serve all of them on the list or if they were only for sale in bulk. Nonetheless, I ordered this:

Pot o’ Tea: Blueberry Fields

Oh. And did I mention that they do tea parties?!

It was a great night out and we look forward to going back! If you want to check out something different just outside the Twin Cities where you can get great service, visit Jared at the wine bar in the back at Urban Olive & Vine on Saturday nights. Let him know I sent you. 😉

Question for you:

Wine, Beer, Cocktails, Coffee or Tea?

And why?



Amsterdam Bar & Hall – St. Paul


Last weekend my husband and I went on a Blind Date:

Okay, so it was really a play entitled Blind Date. I don’t want to spoil what it’s like, but I’m sure you can figure out what it’s about! It’s playing through April 1st at the Ordway in St. Paul and tickets are still available. So go check it out! They serve some fun, fancy cocktails {for purchase} pre-show, so be sure to get there early. The Sofia Sparkling wine was featured in a few and sold out before the show even started. The cocktails featured Kinky Liqueur which is a mango, blood orange, and passion fruit infused vodka. I ordered the Kinky Bubbles. Impression: Yum! I love a bubbly cocktail and could really taste the blood orange.

But on to the Restaurant Impression. The play was a lot shorter than we anticipated {no intermission}, so our originally planned dinner destination was not yet open. We were hungry due to a rather light lunch earlier. It was a beautiful day, so we decided to walk over to the Amsterdam Bar and Hall just a few blocks away.

I’m sure we didn’t get a true impression of the place during the daytime, because this place is meant to be a nighttime music venue. In fact, there’s live music, if not other activities, every night!

Music & Event Calendars sitting on tables

The interior was dark, yet spacious. I loved the high-top booths lined with art posters and tall candles on the tables:

There was a wide beer selection, with an emphasis on Belgians as well as various gins I’ve never heard of before. {Many were labeled genever, which our server told us was gin.} I didn’t even look at the wine list. Instead, I ordered a cocktail:

The Rotterdam: Gin, St. Germain (elderflower liqueur) & sparkling wine

Then, our food:

Broodjes: Little Dutch Sandwiches, Belgian Frites

Yes, I ate burgers and fries. These sandwiches were smaller than they look though. In fact, the Amsterdam Menu recommends ordering two or three of them for your meal. {Pictured here is the meal for the two of us.} The sandwiches we ordered were:

  • housemade sausage (added cheese, recommended by our server)
  • kroket (pot roast, deep fried)
  • prosciutto
  • xxx cheeseburger

Our favorite? The sausage! In fact, they are listed in order from most to least liked. I had a bite of every one and finished the kroket. The fries? Disappointing. I’ve had them in both Belgium and Amsterdam and recall them tasting better. However, the array of sauces is quite the novelty! Our server surprised us with a garlic mayo, curry ketchup, curry mayo and peanut sauce.

I thought back to when I was in Amsterdam 12 years ago. What did we eat there? But I couldn’t remember. I asked my friend Jen, with whom I traveled on that ten-week backpacking tour of Europe after college. She didn’t recall either. I think we were there for three or four days, too. All I remember were the fries in paper cones with mayo {like in Belgium} and the breakfasts of deli meat, cheeses and bread.

This place has only been open for about six months.

Our impression? Pretty damn cool.

I would love to come back and see a band, nosh on some Dutch pub grub, and toss back a couple of beers. But they also are one of the hosts a book club called “Books and Bars”. Have you heard of this? What do you think? It sparks my curiosity…