This weekend in Minneapolis, Tim and I had the pleasure of going to Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Robbinsdale for dinner. We discovered this restaurant when Tim came across a video on YouTube with the American Hipster series, and we knew that we had to go, and I am SO GLAD we did.
Travail served what was not only one of the most delicious meals I have ever had, but also, hands down the best experience I have ever had at a restaurant. Everyone at Travail, cooks and diners alike are having fun, the entire time. The atmosphere is loud but not overpoweringly so, the music is reminiscent of a middle/high school dance, and everyone is so nice and helpful.
Tim and I made a reservation ~1 month in advance, for the tasting menu. For $125/person, we got the tasting menu and all of the deliciousness you see below, a cocktail, and the wine pairing. A SERIOUS DEAL! The food and wine at any other fine dining establishment like this would cost easily 3x as much, and even so, I cannot imagine having a better experience elsewhere. The amusements were most of the fun!
When we got there, people were lined up around the corner to get in for the 5pm seating, so I was happy we had made the rezzy.
Once the restaurant opened for the evening, we were all let inside and Tim and I were seated at the bar, facing the kitchen with a great view of all of the delicious food being prepared. There were plenty of staff bustling about taking drink orders or bringing out bites, and everyone was so knowledgeable about all of the different ingredients and pieces to the meal. How they memorized all of that, I have no idea.
Caveat – I tried to remember all of the ingredients, but I am sure I messed some up, so forgive me!
The meal started off with the “First Bite” Savory Cream Puff, followed quickly by Pineapple Three Ways. It was a shot with some pureed pineapple, pineapple juice, and a pineapple cream on top with a cashew. I didn’t expect the liquid to have any texture, so this was one of the most surprising, and most delicious bits of the meal.
Next they brought out an Apple Freeze Pop with Crème Français. So tart, but tempered well by the crème.
For drinks, upon the recommendation of the host, I tried the Violette Pilot and Tim had the Ron Burgundy. Mine was a gin and crème de violette slushy with little bits of raspberry inside, making it look absolutely stunning. Tim’s was served in a corked glass flask filled with smoke, and when they poured it out, it smelled heavenly.
Next was a Hamachi Crudo with Daikon, White Mushrooms, and an Avocado Mousse. We watched the team preparing these, step by step on the tiles for the next seating, and it was incredible. Starting with the avocado mousse, the layered on each bit individually, and finally ended with the masterpiece. It was incredible.
The Chicken Liver Cake Pop was another really surprising bite. I have never really had liver, but this was delicious with its cherry glaze and center.
Next up was a twist on Cheese and Crackers – there were four different crackers (including a cheese-it), truffle cheese, and winter sausage, some olives, and mustard.
This was my absolute favorite. Braised Ox with Ravioli with Mascarpone and Lemon. It was so delicious!
Next was what was described to us as “Meat on a Plate” by one of the head chefs. His other explanation was Pork Belly with Powdered Pork, a Hot Vinaigrette and Confit of Garlic. The garlic confit was unbelievably delicious!
The following course was one of the coolest experiences. It was a Foie Gras Burger that was assembled by walking through the kitchen with your burger bun out and having a different chef put a different ingredient on your bun. The end result was delicious! The compilation of ingredients went – mini english muffin, prune mustard, pickled cabbage and onion, foie gras mousse, crème of leek, foie gras sausage, bun top, french fry, and topped with a caper berry.
This Sea Bass with a Sweet Potato, Pickled Raisin, Saffron Emulsion and Ham Chip was awesome! The skin was so crispy.
The next bite was a Brie and Ham Monte Cristo with a Pear Gastrique. Such a cute and tasty little bite.
As I said, this experience was tons of fun, and this next course was definitely part of the fun. Everyone was served the same piece of Waygu Beef, and told NOT to eat it. Then all of the staff assembled into the kitchen and looked like they were breaking into teams. All of a sudden, the rat race song came on and every scampered out of the kitchen. They were racing to see who could dress all of their beef first. Each person had a task, and as they came around, our piece of Waygu got adorned with Beef Fat Vinaigrette, Rye Croutons, Truffle, White Soy, and Chive. Everyone cheered at the end!
Next, they made us work for our food. They came around with a stick with strings with hooks on the end, and on the end of each hook was a piece of House Cured Speck. The server dangled the meat above us, and we had to bite it off. It wasn’t that easy but it was good speck!
Shortly following the speck was a delicious Mini Lobster Roll that was put on our hands to eat!
We saw this next course online, and it was just as fun as it looked, Raspberry Boom Rocks! You spoon them into your mouth and then move them around in your mouth and smoke comes out your nose! It is such an odd sensation, you cannot help but laugh! No good videos, but it was amazing!
Tim liked this Milk Poached Chicken with Rutabaga, Creamy Chicken Broth and Crispy Chicken Sausage the best!
For this next course, they put some excellent smelling “Aromatics” of charcoal and rosemary next to us. It smelled wonderful, and then we were looking at a gorgeous plating of Bok Choi, Sweet Breads, Cabbage and Spicy Cabbage Vinaigrette, when behind us we heard, “BEEF”. The Beef Short Rib was served tableside on the cart and was a perfect complement to all of these goodies!
After the Beef, we moved onto the sweets! The first sweet was a delicious Sweet Potato Bread with Brie Cheese and Honey Semifredo and Flash Frozen Brie, with Poached Pear and Dried Grapes. We watched these plates being put together in front of us, and it is such a production to put together such a delicious plate! And it was served with a little cup of Apple Cider and a Whipped Cream.
When everything was wrapping up, we had our “Last Bite” which was a Mini Eclaire with Maple Crème Fraiche and Blackberry Caviar! A delicious bite to end the evening!
And when we thought that was all, we were sent home with a little box with a chocolate each. Such a cute thought, that extended the experience beyond the restaurant
I cannot say enough about what a great experience this meal was! It was so much fun, so delicious and so exciting. I felt like I was in a movie or a play centered around food. If you are in Minneapolis anytime soon, this is a must do!