Posted On: 12/01/2008
Iím definitely a fan of bar patios. Being on the fringe of the action in the open air, trading stories and cigarettes with complete strangers Ė itís the best place to be. Thus I found myself a few weeks ago, huddled around a blazing fire pit on a quaint patio behind the Amsterdam Tavern, the newest watering hole on Morganford Road, sharing a cigarette with one of the owners, who had no idea of my secret agenda as a reviewer. I couldnít help but eavesdrop on (er, overhear) his conversation concerning the recent opening. Long story short, this beer hall was a labor of love for a former St. Louis expat who returned to our fair city, a more affordable place than most to take a run at the American dream. From what Iíve seen at Amsterdam, heís off to a good start.
Formerly Ronís Mighty Pub, Amsterdam Tavern has been revamped and repackaged for area soccer-lovers. But for those who donít like high-kicking, low-scoring yawnfests disguised as sports (myself included), thereís still plenty to enjoy (beer, and lots of it).
The dťcor: Four flat-screen TVs dot the walls of the small, seemingly Tudor-inspired space, complete with sleek wood floor and ceiling. There are a few not-so-subtle nods to Holland (i.e. flags and picture postcards of Dutch windmills plastered on the bar top), but the Euro kitsch is thankfully kept to a minimum. A rotating series of works from local artists line the wall opposite the bar itself, which is boldly accented by an orange wall lined with glass shelves from which Amsterdamís barkeeps fetch the hard liquor (a less-than-impressive collection of call brands). The patio features half a dozen large picnic tables, a carpet of fresh woodchips, and the aforementioned fire pit for the cold season.
The music: A group of yahoos a few tables down kept pumping quarters into the jukebox on both my visits. I donít remember specifics, but it wasnít pretty.
The drinks: As a soccer bar, the main focus at Amsterdam is beer. The limited draft selection Ė Stella, Guinness, Blue Moon, Boulevard Wheat Ė is more than compensated for by a massive bottle menu, one of the best in the city: Duvel, Spaten, Fullerís, Carlsberg, Czechvar, Hoffbrau Ale, Peroni and Hollandia help round out an impressive cast. Cocktails are available, but with this selection of brew you shouldnít waste your time. Again, the hard stuff is somewhat lacking. On my first visit the drafts seemed a little flat and off flavor, but on return I found this was corrected. Service remained consistently strong.
The people: As a twentysomething-pushing-thirtysomething male, I was pleased with the crowd; this is the type of place where you feel at home immediately. Itís regularly populated by a congenial crew of neighborhood types generally in their 20s and 30s. Within only a few weeks of opening, Amsterdam had already built a strong crowd of regulars: a mix of beer enthusiasts, Tin Can overflow (itís just up the street), college buddies, soccer hooligans, their soccer hooligan girlfriends.
Without a doubt, if you live in the neighborhood, Amsterdam Tavern should be a mainstay in your social diet. Itís a fine, cozy place to open up a tab on a cold night, sample a few imports and, if so inclined, take in a soccer game. And if you happen to smoke, make sure to step out back. Stands a chance I might be running low.
STL AFTER DARK
Check it: Serious menu of bottled imports.
Hipster or Hoosier: Young, South City crowd, soccer enthusiasts, beer-lovers.
Suds or íTinis: Cocktails are available, but with this beer selection, why bother?
Where: The Amsterdam Tavern, 3175 Morganford Road, St. Louis, 314.772.8224
When: Mon. to Fri. Ė 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. (The bar opens earlier on days European soccer matches are scheduled to be televised.), Sat. Ė 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.
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