Travail Kitchen and Amusements
Pink Drink 3.0 – Vodka, St. Germain, Raspberry, Yuzu, Bubbles
Slushy – Vodka Aviation, Huckleberry
Croquette – Smoked Hamhock, Collard Greens / Speck Chip – Hazelnut, Balsamic / Gougere – Parmesan Cream, Tomato Jam
Panzanella – Tomato, Crouton
Hooks – Sweet Soy Glazed Bacon, Puffed Rice
Scallop – Green Onions, Scallop Cream, Tapioca, Tobiko, Lemon Foam
Pan Fried Branzino – Shrimp Sausage, Rutabaga, Olive, Orange, Parsley
Mezzo – Honeydew, Lemon Jello, Poppy Seed, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Soup – Mushroom, Pao de Querijo, Crema
Vegetables – Beet, Red Cabbage, Purple Potato, Radish, Blueberry, Red Onion Marmalade, Goat Cheese Cream
Rib & Honeydew You Want One? – Peach Glaze, BBQ Powder, German Potato Salad, Yuzu Cooler
Mezzo – Peach Dippin Dots
Tamale – Pork Carne Asada, Crema, Bean Soup, Poblano, Piquillo, Tomato, Cilantro, Crispy Rice, Chicharron
Pork – Tomato, Smoked Tomato Gravy, Parmesan Cheese, Oregano, Broccolini, Chicken Katsuobushi, Lemon, Chanterelle Mushroom
Mezzo – Orange, Huckleberry, Mint
Cup – Thai Tea Ice Cream, Soy Caramel, Lime, Orange Butter, Puffed Rice Noodle
Mousse – Rose, Raspberry, White Chocolate
Sandwich Cookie – Black Pepper, Lemon, Sweet Corn Mousse
Baba Au Rhum – Honey, Blue Cheese
Creme Brulee – Sweet Corn, Citrus, Mint
S’mores Bar – Graham, Chocolate, Marshmallow
In a year that has featured trips both further north and further south of the equator than any other the meal that will stick out as the year’s most fun took place at Travail Kitchen and Amusements on Saturday, but this isn’t just some gimmick as the food is also delicious while the price won’t break the bank like so many other “destination” tasting menus.
Self-dubbed a “Collective” and soon relocating to a new space it was Saturday night that a seat for one was booked at Travail Kitchen and Amusements, the Restaurant’s location in Robbinsdale making it something of a destination for in-the-know diners smart enough to pre-purchase a seat for a night that marries Food, Beverage and theater.
Led by Mike Brown, James Winberg and Bob Gerken with backing from at least a dozen crew-members, reservations confirmed at the door and guests soon seated throughout a vast space surrounding an open kitchen, it is immediately on arrival that five bites are found waiting, a quick description of each and suggestions to begin with the “Slushy” revealing a glimpse of what diners can expect over the next two hours and twenty-two courses.
Rooted in technique and local ingredients, dashes of modernism occasionally used to enhance flavors or create a “wow” moment, it was with palate readied by Pork, Cheese and Tomatoes that the fizzy “Pink Drink 3.0” was selected to carry across the rest of the evening, a taste of bright Citrus particularly pairing well to the first actual course featuring a caramelized Scallop resting in its pan Sauce fortified by Roe and Lemon.
Playing Sports on Television and an eclectic mix of Tunes ranging from 70s to 90s, the ceiling lined with over-sized stuffed Animals like one might win at the State Fair, it was from the hands of a large bearded man who seemed to be in charge that Sea Bass stuffed with Seafood Sausage arrived next, a bit of Orange again tying well into the Cocktail while a palate cleanser in follow-up came in the form of Gelatin mixed with Melon and Poppy Seeds.
Happily seated at the bar with a full vantage of the action, two septuagenarians on the right having a blast despite the Restaurant’s youthful vibe, it was “with no hands” that diners were next asked to bite crispy Bacon from a clothespin, memories of Alinea quickly surfacing but soon supplanted by a creamy Potage of Mushrooms intended to be spooned and subsequently mopped up with Brazilian Cheese Bread.
Taking inspiration from a color next, interestingly the same one featured as part of a rollicking meal at La Jolla’s TBL3, it was in shades of Purple that guests were invited to taste locally-grown Produce in various preparations before transitioning to Meat courses, the sticky Pork Rib and quenelle of herbed Potatoes a pleasant send-off to summer completed by a creamy Yuzu Cooler.
Gifted a small bowl of Dippin Dots next, the tableside liquid nitrogen show gathering eyes, it was in follow-up that thick Masa surrounding roast Pork was presented, a multitude of textures all brought together by silky refried Beans that started vegetal, finished smoky and thus offered an elegant transition to the nights final savory of grilled Pork in Tomato Gravy.
Perhaps the very definition of a “chef-driven” Restaurant, staff actually pausing for a minute and offering prizes to whoever shouts out the final answer on Wheel of Fortune, it was here that guests were asked to stand and visit a station where “Cups” made of Orange Butter were filled with Thai Tea Ice Cream before returning to seats for more surprises, a refreshing Bon-Bon followed by delicate White Chocolate Mousse perfumed by Roses and Raspberries.
Still not finished and thankfully not too full, Travail doing a better job than many in terms of pacing and portions, it was after an Alfajore topped in Sweet Corn Mousse and Black Pepper that Dessert’s showstoppers arrived, the “Crème Brulee” in reality like Chess Pie made from pureed Kernels while a spongy Baba came soaked in Rum and Honey alongside creamy Blue Cheese Mousse.
Having already pre-paid the tab by TOCK, only one cocktail left to be charged, it was with OSU vs. Penn State just starting that a “Take Home” gift was presented prior to departure, the thick S’mores Sandwich another highlight even though it never made it home and was instead enjoyed at Travail Collective’s “Pig Ate My Pizza” next door.