Reviews and Such Restaurants

Amsterdam Tea Room – Exchange

The Amsterdam Tea Room, located in Winnipeg’s Exchange district, is one of those places that I’ve actually visited several times, without ever getting around to write a review. The cafe is located in a store front that for many years housed the Winnipeg Folk Festival’s record store.

display of teas
Samples of teas on the wall of the Amsterdam Tea Room.

Amsterdam tea room has been open for just shy of three years. Originally it was only selling tea, and as the link article explains, only bulk tea, not to drink. However, over the last three years they have gradually transformed the space into a cafe that serves small plates, tea, coffee, and a variety of beers, wines, spirits, and cocktails

Amsterdam Tea Room Hours

Monday                           Closed

Tuesday                           10am   –      11pm

Wednesday                    10am   –      11pm

Thursday                         10am   –      11pm

Friday                               10am   –     Midnight

Saturday                         10am   –   Midnight

Sunday                            Closed
When I count up the number of visits I’ve made, it’s probably around the half dozen number. However, a couple of those visits were just to grab a beverage. Occasionally they have offered cold tea beverages for sale just outside the door during the heat of summer, and I’ve taken advantage of the refreshment that offered. I also grabbed a beer and hung out a couple of years ago during St. Patrick’s day, when Derrick Cundy, who’s hosted several of the open mics that I’ve participated in did a couple of sets of Irish songs.

When you walk into the place, your eyes are drawn to the bar, which is along the back wall of the room. Then, to your right you see the tables. There is one large, raised, communal tables, several tables for four and also several tables for two. Other than the time I went for St. Patrick’s day, I’ve never had a problem finding a place to sit.

One of the things I find interesting about the Amsterdam Tea Room is the way the lighting seems to change from visit to visit. At night it is very dark, and the bar aspect of the room is emphasized. Daytime clouds can give it a bit of a gloomy look, sort of a different darkness than the night. Yesterday, though it was bright and sunny out and the restaurant space appeared quite cheerful.

There is also a decent sized patio out front of the Tea Room, but I have yet to visit at a time when the patio was particularly in operation.

Amsterdam Tea Room Lunch

My first and second lunches at Amsterdam Tea Room were pretty much the same. I ordered the Snert, which is a Dutch pea soup. I kind of disagree with the description as a soup. To me it has more of the consistency of a porridge. The flavour is good and rich, and there is plenty of bits of ham throughout. The bits of ham are quite small, so that means you get a bit of ham in almost every spoonful.
pea soup
The Amsterdam tea room serves a rich, thick, pea soup. The second time I tried the pea soup, that was all I had for my lunch, but that turned out to be plenty.

Amsterdam Tea Room in the Evening

I’ve also been to the Tea Room in the evening. I looked at their menu while writing this, and I don’t see it there, but my evening visit I was served a Charcuterie Board.

charcuterie board
Amsterdam Tea Room puts together a rather lovely charcuterie board.

Unlike a lot of charcuterie boards, this one was cheese absent. However, there was a really good selection of cold meats, some fine pickled vegetables, along with the cornichons, onion, and black olives. The board was served with a selection of sour dough bread,

Amsterdam Tea Room toast basket
A basket of toast to go with the charcuterie board.

For a beverage on this occasion I went with their standard lager called the Manitoba. I found this to be the most disappointing thing I tried on all of my visits to the Tea Room. I thought it was rather insipid.

Another Lunch

This being the week after Easter, I’m trying to take some time to rest up and recover from all the Holy Week services. So, yesterday, I was out and about downtown and trying to figure out where I wanted to go for lunch. I hadn’t intended to go to the Amsterdam Tea Room, but as I wandered out of 201 Portage and headed northward, I decided it was about time that I made one more visit to the Tea Room and then produce this post.

I arrived just at noon, and was surprised to find that there were a couple of the other tables in use. Mark, one of the partners in the Tea Room, was working as server, and invited me to take a table anywhere. I found a spot against the wall, that while bright, took me out of the sunlight that was flooding on. Mark left the menu and came back in a couple of minutes to ask if I wanted anything to drink to start with. The Magnes Pear Cider had caught my eye, and I decided to order one. By the end of my lunch I was really glad that I had.


Pear Cider for lunch
The Magners Pear Cider from Ireland.

Having tried the pea soup on a couple of previous occasions, I knew that was the one thing I wouldn’t be ordering this time around(although it is worth repeated tastings). Instead I went with a sandwich that was a little out of my usual range of choices.

I ordered the roasted Cauliflower sandwich. The cauliflower was just beyond crisp, and the hummus was good and rich. This is a messy sandwich, but full of flavour. Mark, noticed the mess and brought an extra napkin to make sure that I didn’t get the sandwich all over myself.
an unusual sandwich choice
I’m usually a meat person when it comes to sandwiches, but the Roast Cauliflower Sandwich is really good.Along with the salad, I also ordered the potato salad. The potato salad comes with a mixture of ham, pickled onions, cornichon, apple, with a soft cooked egg on top. When I broke the egg, the yolk poured out quite nicely.

The potatoes were soft without having reached the stage of being mushy, and the crispiness of the cornichon and the pickled onions served as a nice counter point to the softness of the potatoes. The flavours were all in good balance with each other, and the aioli dressing covered everything nicely without overwhelming the other ingredients.

potato salad
The potato salad is a good combination of the softness of the potatoes with the crunch of the cornichons and pearl onions.

Each of these dishes is around the $10.00 mark. However, either of them would have made a more than adequate lunch on their own. Despite not having had much to eat during the day, I found that the two together was everything I wanted and more.

That’s why I said earlier that the Pear Cider ended up being such a good choice. The cider is nice and crisp, and the pear comes through quite well. Pear juice is quite light as far as it’s flavour goes, so the beverage didn’t leave me feeling very full, which was good, given the amount of food in the meal.

I find once summer comes that I end up in the Exchange quite often, and will definitely be stopping in from time to time at Amsterdam Tea Room.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.