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Jul 21, 2010 11:05 AM

Travail Kitchen & Amusements Update

Per their Facebook page:

We will be having a soft opening Thursday (22nd) and Friday (23rd) with a sneak preview menu!

No beer or wine will be available, but you are welcome to bring your own... within reason. Beer and wine only please.

The restaurant will be closed over the weekend, but we will be having a ribbon-cutting Grand Opening next Tuesday, the 27th.

Come one, come all!

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  1. VERY much looking forward to this, but I think I'll give them a few weeks before I invade.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BigE

      I've never been to a soft opening, preview, or grand opening. I know it might not be indicative of the future restaurant, but I kind of want to go to see that industry-y part of things. And my friend lives nearby and I can go putz on his lake.

    2. I've stuck my head in the window a few times, and the place looks great. Yesterday, after picking up some meat at Hackenmeuller's, the crew was hard at work inside.

      Can't wait to have them in my neighborhood. (If you're there, be sure to pick up some stuff at Hackenmueller's too... a great old school butcher shop)

      1. I plan to be there for lunch just after noon on Friday, with some quality beer. Anyone else planning on attending? I'll buy some extra if so...

        1. I'll post some thoughts in the morning, but for now, a few pictures.

          7 Replies
          1. re: semanticantics

            My wife and I went there for dinner around 6 PM last night and sat at the chef's bar. I have done my fair share of soft opening from both the restaurant and the customer side and this one was very nicely done.

            We had 7 dishes between us - we ended up ordering the scallops for desert.

            All of the dishes were well prepared, nicely seasoned and oh so tasty. They plan on staying open till midnight and serving a bar menu after 10 PM. Since I live close to their location this could be a new late night hangout with great food for me.

            The official opening is next Tuesday.

            1. re: semanticantics

              i'm gonna sound like a major a-hole here, and i'm sure it was very tasty, but that dessert plate is one of the most singularly unattractive food presentations i've ever seen in my life. looks like the result of some horrible sidewalk collision. dial it down a notch, "food artistes"-- when it's over the top, it just looks stoopid.

              so how'd it all taste? how was the overall execution?

              1. re: soupkitten

                Well soupkitten, I would agree with you. That dessert plate is too much. Beyond innovative to just sloppy. And pardon me for not knowing, but where is this Travail?

                1. re: daniellempls

                  4154 West Broadway
                  Robbinsdale, MN 55422

              2. re: semanticantics

                I've got two friends who live in Robbinsdale a stones throw from Victory 44. They turned me onto Vic's a couple months back, and we've gone together a few times. About that same time I read that some of the staff of Vic's was leaving to start their own restaurant nearby, "Travail Kitchen & Amusements". We've been waiting impatiently for news, and this week their status was updated to indicate they'd be having a soft open last night, and a "sneak preview" tonight. Sounded like a good reason to get a couple bites and check out the new kid in town.

                I hope a "sneak preview" is allowed for review, we weren't comped and there were plenty of other customers in the joint.

                I arrived about 6:30pm, found a spot right in front across the street (score!) and met my two cohorts. They were already a half beer into their visit (and more than a sheet to the wind after a wine buying spree earlier). I immediately started scoping the chalkboard menu (seems familiar...) for vegetarian options, and was happy to find about 6 out of the 14 items listed.

                I ordered the Tofu, one friend got the Butter Burger, and the other got the Beet Salad and Peruvian Scallops. I ordered light because Travails Facebook page hadn't mentioned specific dishes and I didn't want to end up getting snubbed, so I ate a bit before departing. Really wish I hadn't done that now.

                We received an amuse before the meal, a mango-something chili oil shooter with a crispy bit. I guess I should start taking notes. I am officially "that guy" now I guess.

                The tofu is house made, and was server in a broth with what I believe were dried shiitake, some chive, and a few chunks of green bean. Nice meaty texture and good flavor. Sure, I'm a vegetarian, and I eat tofu, but it's still nice when tofu is done well. Something gave the dish a spicy kick, but I couldn't pin point it. The burger came with what appeared to be a big square piece of bacon, like Canadian bacon sized, but still marbled like traditional bacon. It was served with fries (I stole a few, they were good), and I believe a house made ketchup. The beet salad had some thin slices of jalapeno and I believe a lime wedge. The scallops came with some kind of pepper puree, tempura'd squash blossom, chorizon, and of course, scallops.

                We were offered dessert and gave it a whirl. We were told it was a platter for-2 , but we all shared. Before the platter, we were presented with another amuse shooter, white chocolate liquid with caramel-y pistachios around the glass rim. I liked this quite a bit, I'm quite the fan of both ingredients. Our platter arrived with a deconstructed strawberry shortcake with mini-caramel apples, with swipes of meringue and yuzu, and an iced element, I forget the flavor / technique. Everything was quite tasty, I could've used a slightly larger portion.

                The space is cool with an open kitchen, a giant booth side running down the opposite wall to the kitchen, the menu is in two different spots, all above head-level so they can be seen from anywhere, and a bean bag game in the back. My one complaint would be that it was pretty warm in there, probably hotter inside than outside tonight, and it was 80+ and a bit stick out.

                The service was attentive but casual, friendly and willing to answer questions and put up with at least two people half sauced. I told our main server (3 or 4 came by throughout) "thank you" for the veggie options, said I really enjoyed the tofu, and asked if it was house made. He said "thank you", and that he was the one who had made the tofu!

                The Victory 44 influence is obvious and will be mentioned in everything you read. Chalkboards, vague descriptions, fancy plates, chef / sever, etc. That's not a bad thing in my book. The world can't have too many places with well executed, smart food in a casual atmosphere for a good price.

                Can't wait to go back, knock out a few more dishes (Micro Greens, Beet Salad, Fries, Agnolotti, and I believe Vichyssoise are all vegetarian), and see what they have in store. The staff better buy sunglasses on account of their future being so bright that they will require them.

                1. re: semanticantics

                  Thanks for the review. I've noticed V-44 moving away from baby food chic in their presentation. I like to play with my food, but I don't need to do so beforehand.

                  The similarity between the two restaurants will indeed by the subject of some discussion, especially if either or both do not succeed. That said, that team put together some fine work at V-44, so I anxiously await the "hard" opening.

                  1. re: kevin47

                    We ate at Travail last night. Fantastic. Space was very comfortable, food was excellent and service, while a bit slow, was very helpful. 4 of us split the following: charcuterie plate, sea scallops, steak and potatoes, chicken and egg, agnolotti and the dessert plate. The agnolotti was stuffed with ricotta and had a butter and herb and mushroom sauce - one of the best things I have eaten this year. The chicken and egg seemed similar to a dish at V44, and was good. I wasn't crazy about the scallop (served with polenta, squash blossoms and zuchini). The dessert was 4 different items (a chocolate cake and merengue, blueberries and cheesecake filling, a yuzu ice cream cake and chocolate biscuits with chocolate sauce).
                    We can't wait to go back and try other dishes.