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Bite Of Minnesota: Travail Experience

By now you've likely heard of Travail, the popular chef driven restaurant in Robbinsdale. You've probably read stories both about the long lines and the amazing dining experience. Perhaps you even read about their new ticketing system, where tickets are purchased well in advance, something I'm a huge fan of.

You see, until recently, I had never officially eaten at Travail. Sure, I've eaten their food as I was a frequent diner at Umami, their pop-up dim sum restaurant in North Minneapolis where food was wheeled out on carts for diners to pick and choose from. Of course I took full advantage of all 19 courses each time. I have also done The Rookery's brunch, 10 courses of breakfast perfection and oddities (the chefs are a tad quieter in the morning hours but still as creative). I even tried to dine at Travail once, showing up at 9:30pm on a weeknight but was faced with a two-hour wait.

So, when I heard Travail was offering ticketed reservations, I knew my time had come to finally experience a Travail dinner and what better time to do it than my husband's birthday celebration! The ticketing situation is a bit too complex to explain here so check out their website for the most up to date information.

In a nutshell, ticket prices vary based on the day and time you chose with prime dining days/hours being the most expensive. Once you have your ticket, get ready for an amazing dining experience.

We dined on a Wednesday night at a table of 6. This isn't a typical restaurant experience and there is no menu to order from (just a quick check for any allergies or food intolerances), so sit back and let the chefs bring the food to you. Did I mention that the chefs are also the servers? Who better to tell you about each intricate dish, right?

2015-03-04 (Travail Seafood Course - Crystal Grobe)
(credit: Crystal Grobe)

Our first course was wowing: a long tube filled with a shot of lobster bisque and panna cotta, looking like something out of a science class, topped with a cone of seafood salad. We were instructed to take a bite of the cone, a sip of lobster bisque, then to swirl the tube to combine both the bisque and panna cotta while finishing our cone. So many flavors right off the bat.

That led into the next course: the infamous ham hook (as seen on Food Network), which generated a lot of laughs as we watched our fellow diners try to eat a dangling piece of ham without using their hands. It is definitely something to experience with a group.

As much as I want to detail all 19 courses, I also don't want to spoil the adventure. Throughout the evening expect to enjoy familiar flavors like BBQ pork, and unfamiliar flavors like salt encrusted celery root, all beautifully presented, usually with the use of tweezers for perfect placement. Even the pickiest eaters in our group loved the experience and ate every course with a smile. The chefs were entertaining, goofy, and oh-so-creative with each dish that two hours passed by almost too quickly. Before we knew it, we were sipping Mexican hot chocolate and heading out the door, already planning our next visit.

Have you been to Travail? Are you considering a future visit? Tickets are on sale now for March and April. While you're there, grab some tickets for The Rookery's brunch. If you're lucky, you can try the egg dog.

2014-09-14 Birthday Brunch at The Rookery - Egg Dog
(credit: Crystal Grobe)
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