Travail Kitchen and Amusements
Hey kurligirl27/kurlikooking when you return to the Twin Cities area this fall it is absolutely REQUIRED that we go to Travail Kitchen and Amusements in Robbinsdale. I went for the first time this evening, and I can’t remember a time when my inner foodie has been so thoroughly satisfied! (though my birthday dinner at 112 Eatery is probably pretty close)
Travail is known for its cozy yet loud and fun atmosphere, boundless culinary creativity, and tasting menus that over-deliver while not overdrawing your bank account.
I tried my best to recall all of the details on the things I ate tonight, but all of the dishes had so many components and it was so noisy in there that I sometimes missed what the waiters were saying as they described a dish. I didn’t take photos (definitely regret that one) so the descriptions alone will have to do.
The 8 courses are mixed with descriptions of the “amuse” items that we were served - complimentary little bites meant to amuse the palate.
Shooter - orange/lime/mint shooter with cucumber and a juice-filled bubble
Hot rolls (tasted like challah!) - thrown around the dining room by a large man with a headband, waxed moustache and bright red suspenders
Devilled egg bite - deconstructed, with kalamata olive and green onion
“Fish and chips” - salmon and potato cake with pickled cauliflower, radish, potato chips, dill foam
Beef tartare - presented to look like a toadstool with a large chip perched on top of the cylindrical-molded tartare, with spots of egg yolk truffle, cornichons and butter poached wild mushroom
Soup - caraway croutons, some kind of cheese foam/mousse that “smells like sweaty gym socks but tastes delicious” (Taleggio, I’m pretty sure he said), vinegary mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sprouts/shoots, and luscious creamy mushroom soup
Foie gras bite - some type of foie powder with cashews and cheese powder? Not entirely sure what this one was haha
Agnolotti - asparagus, pea shoots, pickled onion, sous vide egg, pasta pillows stuffed with lemon ricotta
Scallop - roasted cauliflower, pear chip and diced pears, lime segments, creamy herb sauce, seared scallop
Chicken - 3 ways: breast, thigh, crispy skin, with cheese sauce to pour over, celery ribbon, served with a small bottle of house-made Yuzu and honey soda
Palate cleanser - some kind of lime pop rocks made with liquid nitrogen that popped and hopped all around the tabletop when a couple happened to land there
Inside-out mini ice cream sandwiches - made tableside on a stone frozen with liquid nitrogen! Frozen nickel-sized disks of vanilla creme anglaise with a dollop of lemon curd and small square of white cake sandwiched in between
Ribeye - ribeye, glazed short rib, roasted mini brussels sprouts, caramelized onion puree, popcorn puree, black salt, potato with bacon powder (both purees on this plate were among the best things I ate all night!)
Dessert - tiny bite-size portions of espresso creme brulee, banana cake, rum raisin bread pudding, cherry and pistachio layer cake with chocolate and cherry gelee, white chocolate with passion fruit filling, smores, coconut cream with gingerbread crust, house take on an Orange Julius with vanilla whipped cream
Uff da! SO GOOD.
“No frills here. Pluck your eating utensils from a jelly jar (another serves as water glass). Just suspend your disbelief and enjoy.”—Carla Waldemar recommends Travail Kitchen & Amusements
Will you Trevail?
This week, I had an adventure in dining. My good friend Beth and I went to try a new place near Minneapolis called Trevail Kitchen and Amusements. (See their FaceBook page, https://www.facebook.com/Travailkitchen.) The new and innovative cuisine reminded me of things I watch on The Food Network shows “Iron Chef” and “Chopped”. The team is so collaborative and looks like they are having a blast, working to produce some pretty neat things, using different techniques that you would expect to find in a Haute Cuisine-type restaurant — not in a tiny restaurant in sleepy Robbinsdale, MN.
We ordered their 10-course tasting menu, and while I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of all of our courses, I did capture quite a few. Can’t seem to post them here along with the text portion, so they will be in a separate Photo post. Sorry about that. But, here’s what we had to eat:
-3. The first item we were served was an aperitif to clear the palate. It was a lemon water flavored shot with this gel-ball filled with rosemary infused liquid. Very odd — I wasn’t expecting a “gel ball”, but the texture and flavor was surprisingly good as it burst in my mouth.
-2. Next, we were served a small, warm serving of a mildly spiced yellow curry, in a shot glass.
-1. The third thing we were served was a prosciutto-wrapped bite of pineapple with a sage puree perched upon the top. The “bite” was just that - imagine one small segment about the size of a 2x6 Lego brick. :)
1. Our first course (of the ten course tasting menu) was a salad of apples with candied cashews, smears of cashew butter, bits of fried prosciutto, and some sweet bread croutons.
Now, each of these courses are really less than single servings which you share with your dining companion. I would estimate that the salad and pasta courses we were served were 3 ounces (or less) — and right about this time, Beth and I were both wondering how we could possibly be full after this meal. But, add up 10+ 1.5-ounce portions, and eventually, you will start to feel full. This happened around course 6 for us.
2. Our second course was a ceviche of scallops with arugula and oven dried tomato. There was a hand-made ravioli as well, along with an arugula puree and bits of fried pancetta. The kicker on this plate was a pancetta foam! Have you ever eaten pancetta foam? Nope. Didn’t think so. It was odd but good — looked like a small pile of shaving cream, but it definitely tasted like pancetta! Innovative, to be sure.
3. Our third course was Steak Tartar with German potato salad, chive sour cream, freshly cracked pepper and tiny bits of lemon peel. The innovative thing about this course was that it came wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. The server (who patiently explained each course) explained that, just prior to serving, they piped in hickory smoke to infuse the dish with flavor! And sure enough, there was smoke under the plastic wrap. When we pulled back the wrap, little puffs of great smelling smoke came out. The dish not only tasted fantastic, but the presentation on this one got the highest score from me for the entire meal.
4. Our fourth course was a potato leek soup served with a few home-made potato chips and deep-fried, smoked ham hock. This one had a leek foam sitting on the side of the chips and piece of ham. The server poured the warm, creamy soup into the bowl tableside. It was delicious!
5. The next course was a pasta course. Beth and I agreed that this was one of the least favorite. We got cheddar cheese filled ravioli sitting in a bit of ham broth. There was puffed wild rice on the top of an orange foam, and piece of candied orange rind. While the orange foam did indeed taste of oranges, the flavor combination just didn’t work for us.
6. The sixth course was a shellfish course — Mussels in the half shell perched atop whipped potato with bits of crunch prosciutto. The server poured a savory curry sauce over the top of the mussels tableside. Delicious.
7. The fish course was pan-fried sea bass with a “potato crouton”, which is about 8 thinly sliced 1” squares of potato baked to perfection with a crispy crust on one side. (Beth and I remarked several times throughout our dinner about how you can’t serve a potato the wrong way. No matter which way they served potatoes, they were always excellent.) The fish and potato were served atop a minestrone-type mixture of white beans cooked in ham broth with bits of onion and carrot. Not soup, but not dry either. Very delicious!
8. The eighth course gets lots of points for creativity and presentation! It was the kitchen’s version of “School Hot Lunch”, and it was actually served on a small blue plastic cafeteria tray! It consisted of a 1.5” square of grilled cheese (cut diagonally), whipped potatoes piped artistically over the tray, beef short-ribs topped with a ketchup glaze, and a deep fried macaroni and cheese ball that was so phenomenal, I’d go back for more of just that! For veggies, we had a dilled carrot slaw, brocoli spears, and carrot bread covered in a white sauce — we are not sure what the flavor was in the sauce. Perched atop the food in the middle of the tray was a tasty treat — a 3” square of hand-made pear fruit roll up!
8.1 To clear the palate before our main course was served, we had passion fruit “Dippin Dots”. Fantastic flavor and fun presentation.
9. Our main course was a Christmas-inspired Hangar steak with potato risotto. There were tiny spears of green asparagus, and whole cranberries as well as a sweet cranberry puree. The most innovative things on this plate were the “croutons” of sweet and spicy gingerbread, which complimented the cranberries so well, and smears of cedar-infused oil. The dessert on the plate was a sort-of flan, flavored with eggnog.
10. Our dessert course consisted of three sets of things:
10.1 First, tiny blueberry jam filled macaroons and pumpkin spice bread with vanilla cream - fantastic little bites!
10.2 Second, we were served a drink of hot chocolate flavored with peppermint, with home-made marshmallow bites floating in the top, served in a shot glass.
10.3 Finally, we finished our meal with a delightful lemon bar served atop a sweet lemon curd, and a meringue (caramelized with a blowtorch while we watched), sprinkled with lavender.
All in all, we tasted 16 different creations from the restaurant. Our meal was marvelous (I’m running out of adjectives here!) and I would most definitely go back again! Highly recommended.
And the cost, you might ask? A mere $35 per person. Very affordable.