Travail Kitchen and Amusements

Un.  Be.  Liev.  Ab.  Le.  That’s is how I would describe our meal at Travail Kitchen and Amusements.

I have heard about the wonders of Travail for over a year and I cannot figure out why it has taken me this long to experience them.  Travail is a small, quaint restaurant in Robbinsdale, MN (northwest of Minneapolis).

The ambiance is simple, utilitarian, nothing fancy.  Trust me, none of this matters.  You will not be dining here for the romantic atmosphere.  You will be there for the FOOD.

There is an open kitchen that takes center stage and if you are lucky, you might even get to sit up at the bar overlooking the kitchen and watch the masters at work.

The menu is very simple, like many things at the restaurant.  Simplicity is a beautiful thing, especially when it comes to food.

Each night, Travail features a 10 course tasting menu for 2 people that is an incredible value.  While everything on it sounded wonderful, we wanted to make our own tasting menu and sample all of the things that sounded too good to miss.  The servers are incredibly passionate about food and offer detailed descriptions of preparation, ingredients and accompaniments for each dish.

We started with the Figlets:  bacon-wrapped figs stuffed with goat cheese.  Enough said.

Along with the Figlets, we had this beautiful beet salad.  Red and yellow beets, sliced jalepeños, green apples, beet purée and beet powder.  Beet powder, you say?  Let the molecular gastronomy fun begin!

Blue cheese tater tots with truffle oil and homemade ketchup:  “fair” food at it’s best.

Course #4 (but who’s counting?):  housemade Agnolotti.  Agnolotti is stuffed pasta similar to ravioli.  Travail’s creation was filled with parsnips and goat cheese with an herb butter sauce, thinly sliced potatoes and parsnip foam.

Next up:  sea bass.  Served with crispy skin, minestrone broth, roasted summer vegetables and pancetta froth.

Now for surprisingly one of my favorite dishes of the evening:  homemade tofu covered in the most lovely curry coconut broth and served with thinly shaved carrots, zucchini and large pieces of broccoli.  The tofu had a beautiful texture almost similar to mozzarella cheese and the light curry flavor with the perfectly cooked vegetables was absolute perfection.

Possibly my favorite dish of the entire evening was the sweet potato soup.  Sounds simple enough, but the complex and warm flavors were amazing and the best part was the marshmallows on the bottom of the soup that slowly melted and oozed and gave the soup a lovely sweetness.  If I could swim in this soup all day and use the marshmallows as pillows at night, I would.

And for our final savory course, it was only fair to give the boy some meat.  Steak with fried polenta cake, brussel sprouts and mushrooms.  No complaints.

Enough savory already.  Time to Satisfy My Sweet Tooth!  Naturally, I insisted on the dessert tasting menu.  Don’t give me that look.  The previous eight courses were really quite small, and I told you to stop counting!

Dessert course #1:  lemon bars, cream puff with strawberries and very minty and refreshing mojito shots.

And then came a white chocolate tart with orange rhubarb coulis and elderflower ice cream.  At this point I was beginning to wonder if we were secretly part of a test audience for a new season of Top Chef.  Oh how I love food.

Second to last was the chocolate offering:  a chocolate mousse cake with chocolate wafers, mousse-stuffed cherries, cherry Dip N’ Dots and tarragon oil.  While I am a serious chocoholic, fruit with chocolate is not one of my favorite combinations, so this dessert was not my favorite (good thing we had 3 others so there was no need for disappointment during my favorite part of any meal).

Last, but certainly not least, came a light and refreshing melon soup with melon, grapefruit, blackberries, panna cotta and spec, all cooled by a fresh pour of liquid nitrogen.

(Insert “OOH’s” and “AAH’s” here)

In case you have not figured it out, Travail highly exceeded my expectations.  If you are a foodie who wants to geek out and be impressed by rare techniques and delightfully unique flavor combinations or you are just looking for a new restaurant to try, may I highly recommend Travail for your next dining experience?

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2 Responses to Travail Kitchen and Amusements

  1. Ummm….when do you want to go back?! (with us of course!)

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