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Travail in Robbinsdale

  • b

Tried it last night for the first but not the last time.
Fantastic. we shared the beef tartre, tuna belly and the pressed pastrami sandwich. all were outstanding. Inexpensive, well prepared and well presented. It's great to have such a great restaurant so close to home. I can't wait to go back and try a foie gras dish that they are going to put on the menu. keep up the good work guys, everybody else try it and tell you friends about it.
Lets keep them in business. Great bunch of guys and great food.

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  1. Went for the first time on Thursday.

    The new space is cool. I love the open kitchen. They have a seating area at the front, kind of like a sushi bar. Great forum for these guys. You can watch them argue and improvise. My waiter/chef, pointed me to some chanterelle mushrooms that would be on the menu later that day.

    I ordered the kohlrabi soup and tofu ensemble. The soup was excellent. Pickled kohlrabi chips sank beneath a broth topped with a sous-vide egg. I loved the counterpoint there, and the broth was a substantive intermediary. If you are a soup person, this is your place.

    The tofu dish struck me as a sort of vegetarian hangover plate. Tofu cooked two ways (curd and crispy cube) and ditto rice (as paper and as crisp) accompanied by a soft cooked egg and some house made daikon.

    The daikon was simply out of place on the savory dish, which was otherwise good fun. That said, if I were a vegetarian, I might appreciate it more. It didn't strike me until afterward that I had ordered vegetarian plates, which has to be a good sign.

    The guys recognized me from the old place, and thusly comped a beer. A much appreciated bribe, but also a nice attention to detail. The place was half full during the lunch hour, which surprised me, given the surrounds.

    This was great. Not too much terribly new from Victory 44 (which remains great) but the innovation, value (everything clocks in under $10), and judicious editing remain intact.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kevin47

      When I had the Tofu, it was two pucks (see original thread, linked below), served in a broth. The dish you describe sounds better to me. I'd love some daikon and rice. I thought the tofu was quite good, it turns out to be house-made.

      I think there is a lot new / different than at V44. For one, about half of the menu is vegetarian friendly. I don't know if this is by design or coincidence, but you can't even get some fries at V44, they're cooked in bacon fat. There are just two simple salads for vegetarians there. There are things over $10 at Travail, Fish n' Chips, Charcuterie plate, but overall, I believe the portions and value are beating V44.

    2. Couldn't find a menu online, anyone else have better luck?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Enso

        It's on their Facebook page.

        Here is the original Travail thread, which has a review of mine from their Sneak Preview (as well as photo of original menu): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7221...

        They have since added:

        Summer Tomato Salad
        Zucchini Fazzoletti
        Steak and Sweet Corn
        Sea Scallop
        Kohlrabi Soup

        I visited them again since the update to the menu:

        Stopped in Saturday with my ND pal and my friends that are local to Travails area.

        For the amuse, we were given a cucumber mango chili oil shooter. Very nice. I believe different than the amuse from the Sneak Peek evening.

        I had the Agnolotti, ricotta filled pasta served in a butter sauce with peas and lima beans. Pasta was cooked nicely. The cheese in the pasta was colored green, I assume from peas, although there wasn't, to quote an unfortunate turn of phrase on "Iron Chef America", a really strong "peaness" to the dish.

        My meat eating pal had the Steak and Sweet Corn. Corn is one of the two vegetables he'll allow on the plate, the other being potato. Lucky for him, the dish also came with potato, a neat little stack of thin slices, somehow seared on all sides. The steak portion was literally 5 bite sized chunks, which while not a lot, were cooked perfectly to his medium request. He would later give the dish an 8 out of 10.

        His betrothed started with the Kohlrabi soup. It was served table side in a bowl that had thin slices of radish in it, house made tater tots, and apparently an egg at the bottom. For her entree, she had the Zucchini Fazzoletti, ribbons of pasta, thinly sliced zucchini (from giant zucchini, I didn't think this size squash was for eating), and yellow squash. She really enjoyed the soup, but when I tasted it, I found it coughingly salty.

        Her friend had the Butter Burger and enjoyed it.

        My ND friend had the Italian Sausage Pate Melt. It was a really nice sized sandwich, one of the better portions for any of the dishes. He really liked the sandwich, he gave it an 8 out of 10.

        We ordered dessert again. First we received an amuse of I believe watermelon and yuzu. Whatever, it was delicious. I later asked for my pint glass to be filled with it. The dessert platter was more voluminous and varied versus the platter we had during their "sneak peek". Caramel apple, chocolate mousse, "orea" cookie, cookie dough, brown butter biscuits, and yuzu cherry ice cream.

        I really like Travail. I like the fun they are having with their twists on dishes and their creative plating. The food I've had so far is delicious, and the portions are a bit better than their closest competitor (the cough syrup named place), and they've got more vegetarian options for the likes of me. They aren't taking themselves too seriously, there is a bean bag toss and shuffleboard game in the back. Unfortunately. I just cannot give them 5 stars. It is just too damn hot in the dining room. Saturday was 85 and sticky out, and it was the same conditions at my table. Yours arms stick to the table, your water glass sweats onto your lap (making trips to and from the bathroom look like you're having bladder control problems), and you're given huge plates that have just been in a salamander and throw off a lot of heat.

        The other minor quibble is on both visits, drinks that we didn't order were on our bill. In both cases they were quickly removed, but had they not been noticed, that's a good $20 difference.

        1. re: semanticantics

          I have been to travail several times since they opened - those guys are going to be rather detrimental to my cooking skills. Used to be it was quicker to just cook at decent meal myself than drive downtown but then they had to open just a few blocks from my house..........

          Sunday dinner - for my wife and myself

          Amuse bouche - tomato water with tomato dust, mozzarella and baby basil - clean refreshing yet nicely salty.
          Tuna belly - with pickled daikon - very nice
          Seared Tuna - roasted onions, semi-dried olives and something I forgot - nice Mediterranean flavors
          Agnelotti - outstanding as always
          Steak & Corn - baby and fresh corn with a perfectly cooked sirloin
          Fried chicken - sous vide breast and dark meat then battered and fried, with green beans and grilled watermelon - my wife was still raving about that dish hours later.

          We also received a piece of roasted tuna collar from the staff meal - it tasted exactly like some southern Italian fishermen would cook it. just great.

          I love the unpretentious atmosphere, the interaction with the guys actually cooking, the playful yet serious approach to their food. I have had a couple of dishes that weren't quite up my alley but that's all personal preferences rather than conceptual or execution errors.

          Overall I am very happy to have them in my neighborhood and hope they'll stick around for a long time.

          1. re: semanticantics

            The heat thing should be fixed this week according to their Facebook page.

            1. re: frittering_away

              They had a problem with their Air Conditioning that should be resolved.

              Also, starting this weekend, they are closed on Sundays, but will be open on Mondays.

        2. Travail's FB page mentions four new dishes:

          Chantrelle Agnolotti
          Pork Belly
          Steak (I believe with tater tots, there is a picture of this dish)

          And a new 10-course tasting menu, apparently intended for 2 diners, for $60.

          3 Replies
          1. re: semanticantics

            Three of us went last night. Food was incredible. We had the Chantrelle Agnolotti, Pork Belly,
            Steak (blue cheese tator tot), Fried Chicken, Figlets, Fries and Tomato Salad. And the dessert board. It was our second visit and we walked away so impressed with the food and the service. I also loved the fact that their windowbox had herbs and cabbage growing in it. I would consider moving to Robbinsdale just to eat here more frequently.

            1. re: semanticantics

              A follow up post indicates the Tasting Menu is chef's choice. I called around noon and spoke to a female that indicated they could do vegetarian for me.

              1. re: semanticantics

                They mentioned on Facebook that vegetarian won't be on the board but would be 4-6 courses for $30.

                We live in Robbinsdale, and are so glad to have them here. Be sure to pick up some bratwurst (or a yard sausage) at Hackenmueller's across the street. They're amazing.

            2. Visited again last night. I ordered the Chanterelle Agnollotti and the Tofu. The Tofu this time was a deconstructed Banh Mi with soft scrambled egg and house made kim chee. It was really, really good, and more substantial than it appears. The pasta was also good, but again, doesn't exactly scream the ingredient, but they are creamy pillows of yummy pasta.

              I also ended up eating the Zucchini Fazoletti, brought to our table due to "kitchen error". That was also a tasty dish. Unfortunately, I was left too full for dessert.

              This is now one of my favorite spots. I look for excuses to drive the 20 minutes just to see the weeks take on an ingredient / dish.

              1. I've recently made my 4th and 5th visits to Travail, last Thursday with mom for lunch and last night with my two friends that are local to Robbinsdale. Between the two trips there were several new items, last night the agnolotti changed from turnip to sweet corn, there was rabbit (4 ways), fig soup, and maybe a couple more. The "dessert buffet", as it's being called now, was completely different than last Thursday. Both times were it was awesome, and at $9, an incredible value (for an amuse shooter, house made ice cream, house made cookie platter, doughnuts, and funnel cake).

                This is my favorite spot right now. The food is constantly changing, the staff is super nice, and they are basically hanging out, showing off, and having fun, it hardly seems like work to them.

                4 Replies
                1. re: semanticantics

                  I think I'm going to make my first visit tonight. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the old V-44 gang.

                  1. re: BigE

                    Save room for dessert.

                    My friends liked their rabbit and pork belly. The Italian sausage pate melt is probably the most substantial thing on the menu (also been liked by friends). I've had the agnolotti three different ways (pea, chanterelle and corn) and liked it every time. The tomato and melon salad is really nice. OH, the Blue Cheese Tater Tots are awesome (had them last night), and they come with a honey sriracha sauce that is drinkable-good.

                    I can't recall a dud so far...love this place.

                    If you check their FB page, I uploaded a video of them doing a fancy presentation for dessert.

                    1. re: semanticantics

                      I finally made it last night. I took a seat at the lower bar right at the kitchen. The place was pretty rockin', but I was the only one at that spot for the length of my stay.

                      They were out of rabbit, but I did get a spoonful of rabbit rillette. That was outstanding.

                      I started out with the blue cheese tots. Good lord. To say they were the best tots I've ever had would be an understatement. Chef Mike explained them as a molten mass of blue cheese goodness. Nice, light, crisp exterior with a perfectly smooth blue cheese interior. I could eat those things by the bucketful...no joke.

                      Second course was pork belly. Two little seared pieces of belly served with sweet potato puree, sweet potato chips, sauteed apples and a roasted (?) shallot. The belly was pretty straight forward, nothing spectacular about it, to be fair. The sweet potato puree was divine. Combining it (or the apple) with the pork belly made the whole dish better.

                      To finish, I had the italian sausage pate melt. They make the sausage in a loaf pan, slice it and top with house made mozz, pickles and braised kohlrabi in an aioli. Served with their outstanding fries, this was another winner. Having already eaten two apps, I happily took home part of my sandwich.

                      The experience was as good as I could have hoped for. These guys are still doing some of the best and most creative work in town. The atmosphere is just like it was at V-44. This will become a regular stop for me.

                  2. re: semanticantics

                    We live walking distance, so we've also been a few times. You're absolutely right about them hanging out, showing off, and having fun. When they first announced they were doing this, Dara made a blog post where she described it as a "molecular gastronomy man-cave." She nailed it before they even opened.

                    The day they got the liquid Nitrogen, the crew was just giddy. James couldn't contain his excitement when he said, "Dude! We made f***ing Dippin' Dots!" A few minutes later, a singing telegram arrived to sing happy birthday to a surprise party, and EVERYTHING came to a stop while the entire place sang happy birthday.

                  3. Minneapolis / St. Paul and Minnesota Monthly magazines are both "Best New Restaurants" this month, and Travail is on the MSP cover and receive a score of 90, while MNMO says they are #3 amongst the new kids (behind the new Heartland and Piccolo).

                    Keep up the good work!

                    1. Does Travail have a website? Do they take reservations?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Love2Grub

                        They do not take reservations.

                        The listed website address www.travailkitchen.com re-directs immediately to their facebook page.

                        1. re: Love2Grub

                          No reservations, and if you're going on Friday or Saturday, expect a good hour+ wait if you show up after 6. They are also now closed Sunday and Monday.

                          1. re: Love2Grub

                            I normally go on Tuesday/Wednesday nights at ~7:30-8 and have never had a problem being seated. Granted, I go by myself, but there are usually a handful of spots open.

                            1. re: BigE

                              I went last night (Tuesday) with a group of 3 and we waited about 30 minutes but were able to grab a drink and seat at the bar.

                              Overall an incredible experience for an amazing price. Highlights for me were the charcutere plate, figlets (bacon wrapped blue cheese-stuffed figs), scallops accompanied by squash in many forms, and squash soup. The tofu preparation now involves it being served fairly plain with some baby bok choy and roasted red peppers - nothing exceptionally exciting. I'm not a big dessert person, so I could have skipped the dessert tasting which was I believe $9 for 4 over the top dessert plates.

                          2. Tried Travail for the second time. Went back to make sure I wasn't missing something.

                            After all the praise here and in the paper, i was thoroughly disappointed. There were a few good (not mind-blowing) dishes: the steak and potatoes and the octopus. There were plenty of misses. I've never had the delicious flavor of pork belly overpowered and dominated like the cranberry sauce and gingerbread did. No pork flavor, and it was overbooked to all hell. The scallops had good flavor, but had to be the world's 2 smallest scallops, and they were not properly cleaned. The chicken was probably the worst thing I've had to eat in 2010. There was such a complete lack of flavor I sent it pack. Food coming out at right temperature seemed to be a problem as well.

                            The dessert tasting was abysmal. The first three offerings were just plain foul. Thankfully the apricot tart with fig and goat cheese was very tasty.

                            I really wanted to like Travail after reading all the reviews. Between the 25min drive to Robbinsdale, the wait (no reservations), and really really poor service, I would not recommend Travail to anyone that enjoys fine dining.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: SpursDynasty

                              As it is with Piccolo, there's exciting stuff here that's probably a 6-12 months away from really hitting on all cylinders.

                              Went today for lunch, and if I hadn't been a solo diner, there would have been a wait. Wow.

                              I asked them to pick three courses for me, and got the tartare, the agnolotti and the tofu.

                              The tartare is a standout. The sweetened truffle oil was a perfect compliment to the meat. They did something interesting by offering a nibble of pickled veggies, but also fried capers. Added a nice bit of punch to a very rich dish.

                              Speaking of rich, I've had the "agnolotti of the day" before. As always, the consistency was perfect. This one was stuffed with cheddar, and accompanied by a soft scrambled egg. It was a bit one note, which is rare for this place. The cheddar didn't have any bite to it. A near-miss.

                              The tofu was largely improved from the last time I ordered it. Gone are the tofu curds, which were unsuccessful, as well as the egg, which was redundant. Pungent citrus fruits (some dried and/or candied, I think), eggplant, baby bok choy and mushrooms take their place.

                              After the salt-heavy agnolotti, the shift to mild tofu was a bit jarring, and I'm not sure how the fruit interracted with the dish. The peanuts and mushrooms were lovely, and this succeeds as an "entree" type plate.

                              I have never had the problems with service, and the place seems very well staffed. I'm not sure any restaurant could possibly deserve the buzz this place is getting, but that's not their fault. Let's face it, a go-to restaurant in the suburbs is pretty rare in this town.

                              1. re: kevin47

                                Totally agree with the Piccolo analogy (was there last week). Let's hope you're right about 6-12mo till consistent excellence.

                              2. re: SpursDynasty

                                @ Spurs:

                                If you were looking for a fine dining experience, I understand your disappointment, but Travail isn't a fine dining restaurant. To each their own, I've thoroughly enjoyed 9 out of my 10 visits. I think they might play with the recipes a bit too much, people like to have go-to dishes. I've had the agnolotti probably 6 different ways now, but I wish I could have the mushroom risotto every time I go, but alas, that's gone altogether.

                                Their popularity isn't their fault, per se. Cover of MSP magazine and an excellent Strib review within a couple weeks is going to pack the room.

                                1. re: semanticantics

                                  Pardon the interruptions, folks, but we've removed a number of posts discussing star rating systems and the definition of fine dining because those topics are considered off-topic for our regional forums. Please limit your discussion on the Minneapolis-St. Paul board to where the best chow can be found and to your dining experiences in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

                                  If you wish to discuss media reviews and star rating systems, please feel free to start a discussion on our Food Media & News board. If you wish to discuss the definition of fine dining, please start a discussion on our General Chowhounding Topics board.

                                  Thank you for your understanding.

                                2. re: SpursDynasty

                                  I'm not sure what you might be looking for and where did people say that Travail is "fine dining?"

                                  I would characterize it as creative cooking and anyone expecting "fine dining" at a restaurant that has the menu written on a chalk board is kidding themselves, plus all the dishes are <$15. Fine dining?

                                  I've eaten close to 15 of the Travail dishes and would place ~12 in the excellent category. Were there misses? Sure, but heck jfood just sent back a $52 steak that was lousy, so price and cloths do not a good eating experience make.

                                  My experiences have been similar to Kevin47 with one dish way too salty.

                                  It is unfortunate that you experience the exact opposite of so many that have enjoyed Travail.

                                  Where have you found in the MSP area that you like other than the CBH you mentioned on the other thread? Just curious and maybe we can give some other suggestions to enjoy the food in MSP.

                                  1. re: jfood

                                    Sorry for the over-broad use of "fine dining." I guess I was expecting it to be on par with Victory 44 and it was nothing close

                                    Victory 44
                                    2203 44th Ave N, Minneapolis, MN

                                    1. re: SpursDynasty

                                      Travail was a MEGA letdown. I agree with Spurs that V44 is WAY better. I went to Travail for lunch because I was in the neighborhood. That particular area is seriously void of anything worth eating, and I had read this board and seen mostly good things. WOW was I surprised. After sitting down at the table facing the kitchen, five minutes went buy before I was slid a mason jar of water. The jar had old red lipstick on it, and the water tasted horrible! Really bad water. I ordered the pressed pastrami. I got some soggy toast with some weird white crunchy stuff and gross cheese. The meat was actually mostly fat, and the little real meat that was there, was tasteless. So, fat on soggy toast that came with a side of what I am guessing is their fries. The fries were a bunch of tiny burnt bits of over salted yuck. I thought maybe the catsup would mask the ick, but NOPE, they must make that too, because it was just slightly thickened red vinegar. I kept trying to get the taste out of my mouth, but the water just added a soapy/effervescent splash of nasty. So, did I just happen to come on a bad day and order the worst thing on the menu? The hot turkey sandwich from Talula’s was a home run compared to Travail’s fare.

                                      1. re: princebaal

                                        Mason jars are hard to clean. Not sure they thought that one through.

                                        Did you send the sandwich back?

                                3. Went to Travail last night, and holy cow, what an experience. (sorry for the biblical length post, but there's a lot to talk about...)

                                  Yes, the space is great. I really like the openness of it. They actually could have packed more seating in if they wanted to, but for whatever reason didn't, which is nice. Great atmosphere - music playing, industrial/utilitarian/pub-like. Only potential complaint is the floor - concrete with that typical industrial gray paint. i certainly don't mind the look, but the floor was pretty greasy, and I'd imagine with winter coming around, there's going to be a lot of slop on that floor. I've taken enough spills on wet greasy floors with that gray paint with slush on my shoes.

                                  My girlfriend and I got there early, thinking we'd have a couple drinks for a happy hour, but they didn't open until 5, so we went to the Italian joint next door for a couple glasses of wine. We got back to Travail at 5:15, and there was already a waiting list. What?!?! Luckily, there were some seats at the bar facing the kitchen, which was awesome! Great opportunity to talk with the chefs, watch what they were doing.

                                  We had the 10 course for 2 people deal. And what a deal it is. $60. You've got to be kidding. This has got to be one of the best deals in town.

                                  First course: beet salad, with lemon cream. Excellent. Several different beet varieties, and all tasted slightly different. It was a great treatment of what is often a maligned vegetable. Even my girlfriend, who really doesn't like beets, said she really liked these.

                                  Second course: braised and seared octopus with pumpkin compote and puree, serrano ham, and orange foam. Excellent. Great octopus, nice flavor and texture. Personally, I like the "barbequed" octopus at Sea Change a bit more (mostly for the texture), but this was very good, with a really nice presentation.

                                  Third course: beef tartare, egg yolk, capers, caper gelee, croutons, potatoes. Now, I love beef tartare, so I was in heaven. The potatoes were among the tastiest I've had - it just tasted like an intense potato. Like what a potato should taste like. And the caper gelee was incredible. I think the tartare was a little overseasoned with garlic - I really like garlic, but even for me, it was a bit much. But, hey, maybe it's just a personal thing. The texture and feel of the tartare was excellent - silky, great mouthfeel of the beef and beef fat.

                                  Fourth course: black bean soup, sous vide egg white, pancetta, and leek oil. Dang, I wish I could make black bean soup like this. The soap was velvety smooth, the sous-vide egg was incredibly soft and supple, and the crispy pancetta bits at the bottom provided a great textural element, as well as a bit of a salt rush (more on salt later...).

                                  Fifth course: squash agnolotti, mandarin oranges, and macademia nut foam. Good god. This was exquisite. Granted, anything in brown butter is bound to taste good, but this was really excellent. The macadamia nut foam really added a lot to the dish (I tend to think foams look nice and provide the "ahhhh" factor, but usually add little in terms of flavor, but this was an exception). Home run.

                                  ....that we had had that quality of food already, and were only halfway through the service, was staggering...

                                  Sixth course: sweetbreads, farfalle, chestnut puree, radishes, carrots, truffle (?) puree. Another home run. The sweetbreads were perfectly crispy on the outside, velvety smooth on the inside. Several carrot varietals, a couple of which were roasted almost black, and tasted like a concentrated carrot that was infused with sugar. These folks know how to get the most out of an ingredient. (maybe it's not just an ingredient, but each element is a food in it's own right, that needs to be coaxed and prodded just the right way to give up its complete potential...?)

                                  Seventh course: scallops, apple-potato puff, pancetta, truffle-potato puree. Very good. Scallops were perfectly done, excellent flavor and texture. I really liked the apple-potato puff, but there was an off flavor in the top layer. Not sure what it was. Almost tasted propane-ish to me, but my girlfriend didn't get that at all. Might have just been me. The bottom layers were fantastic.

                                  Eighth course: chicken, sweet potato confit, swiss cheese donuts, cherry puree. I never order chicken in a restaurant, because it usually tastes like nothing. Typically, chicken is just a protein vehicle. This was different. The chicken tasted like chicken is supposed to taste like. That and swiss cheese. And the sweet potato confit was excellent. The cherry puree really added to the nuttiness of the swiss, and the incredible flavor of the chicken. Another home run.

                                  Ninth course: beef fat quiche, blue cheese foam, mushroom ragu, steak. Once again, good god. At this point, the deliciousness of the meal is verging on the inhumane, but no, they keep piling it on. I love steak, and this steak was very good. But to be honest, the steak played third fiddle to the mushrooms and the beef fat quiche. This quiche was exquisite. There are no words in the English language to describe the flavor of the quiche with the blue cheese foam. This might quite honestly have been one of the best single items I have ever had in my life. A grand slam.

                                  Ninth.five course: raw foie gras, grapefruit, and baguette. Yes - the 9.5 course. A couple of very nice ladies sitting next to us (who appear to go there every day because they knew all the chefs) were handed a small plate from one of the chefs (they hadn't ordered it), and when they asked what it was, the chef said "oh, just eat it". I asked one of the chefs what it was, and he said it was the foie gras, and I said it looked really good. Now, this wasn't part of the 10 course menu. A minute later, the chef hands us a plate of the raw foie gras from the kitchen. Wow. Now, something like foie gras, I like to eat it simply, with nothing else, because its flavor and texture are so divine. And this was - the flavor of it was excellent. But the combination of the little crostini and the little slice of grapefruit on top really brought it to another level. The acid of the citrus really complimented the fat of the foie gras. Another home run.

                                  Finally...Tenth course: fire and ice. Flambeed meringue with dry ice chocolate gelato, chocolate chip cookie, coconut brownie...Excellent. I'm not a huge desert fan, so it's hard for me to rave about it. It was very good. For serious desert fans, I'm guessing this would be top notch (though I really loved the coconut brownie).

                                  OK, bottom line, this meal was stupid good. Service was awesome. The first 3 plates came out in rapid succession, and we asked the chef serving us to slow things down a bit. Perfect - the rest of the meal was a perfect pacing for us. Presentation of the dishes was fantastic, and the great thing is, as we were watching the chefs assemble and deliver plates, the same dish looked different depending on who was preparing it, and we heard from some folks there that on any given night, the same dish might have different elements. I like that. Some folks love familiarity, I love the element of surprise. I like that approach.

                                  Salt - the only salt issues I had were with their charcuterie pieces. The pancetta and serrano ham were on the salty side. Yes, I realize that these meats are, by their nature, salty. But this was a bit more so than usual. Perhaps its because the meats are done in house (not sure about the serrano, but I think I heard it was a home cured serrano by them). From my own experience, my home cured meats have leaned on the salty side, but I'll completely forgive it because the overall flavor tends to be better - and in the case of their pancetta, it was excellent.

                                  I'd say everyone in Minnesota should eat there, at least once. If you tend to dine alone, grab a random person off the street and do the 10 course for 2 people. Maybe their sandwiches/burgers aren't as good. But this 10 course service was truly fantastic. And for $60, it is simply a ridiculous deal. I'm in South Minneapolis, which has tons of excellent neighborhood restaurants (we're blessed). I've never had cause to travel to Robbinsdale (with all due respect). But now, I'll be making the trip to Travail frequently.

                                  This restaurant - in concept and execution - is a success on all fronts.

                                  Sea Change
                                  806 Second Street S., Minneapolis, MN 55415

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: foreverhungry

                                    This talk of "truffle" has me curious. I love truffle and would love to have a pasta or something with truffle from Travail.

                                    1. re: semanticantics

                                      According to Dara from MNMO:

                                      They are now closing from 3 - 5 pm daily so that they can prep for dinner. They are getting so slammed as soon as they open the doors there is a wait list.

                                      They will be closed from Nov. 24th to Dec 1st and apparently the month of July.

                                  2. Tuesday night, I made my first Travail trip in a few weeks. Got there ~7:30 and they were slammed. I shouldn't have been too surprised I guess. There were a half dozen or so people waiting (all in pairs) and the boys had a waiting list going on a clipboard. I got a beer a mingled near the bar. 20 minutes or so later, I bellied up and got to work.

                                    Ordered blue cheese tots and tartare to start. Two old standbys. Tots arrived in a big bowl with swaths of ketchup here and there. I absolutely love these things and would eat them by the bucketful if I could. That said, this order contained ~8 tots. To me, that seems a little light. The portion size has gone down every time I've ordered the tots. Minor quibble, as they still tasted great.

                                    Tartare arrived as a slider type interpretation. Small patty of tartare served on a little house made english muffin, surrounded by pickled veg and some sort of mustardy foam. The foam was delicious, the meat was great as always, the pickled veg seemed a little lost, given the slider type construction. My complaints would be about the muffin first. It wasn't toasted and the texture didn't really work for trying to eat the tartare as a mini-sandwich. Secondly, the portion. If ordered by a group, it would have made enough for maybe a forkful a person. The old presentation was a traditional tartare more easily enjoyed by a group. Again, great flavors, just odd presentation, to me.

                                    For my main, I got the always reliable sausage pate melt. The sandwich was good, the fries were cold and greasy, unfortunately.

                                    All and all, a good meal, but not up to the standards I've been used to at V-44 and Travail. It will be interesting to see if the boys can keep up their quality given how busy they are.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: BigE

                                      I hadn't had the chance to get online to post my review...Went last week on Tuesday, arrived just before 6 which seems to be an ideal time if not looking to wait around for a table. Got seated at the table top looking at the cooks, which really worked out well to engage in conversation with the chefs and discuss meal options.

                                      Starters were the beef tartare and the beet salad. Texture wise on the tartare, the sous vide egg was an interesting approach (I think I still like the raw egg better), I liked the fried capers and the cornichons. Good, but I'm still favoring 112's version. The beet salad was solid.

                                      Two of us split the fish and chips, the agnolotti, and the steak presentation. The fish was perfectly battered/fried and needed no accompaniment, that dish while so overdone at every chili's or tgi mcfuntime, was so tasty.

                                      The agnolotti came out a little cool, I wanted a warmer dish but it certainly was tasty. And after a couple bites I was in no position to complain. The steak was also perfectly medium rare, and while a small size, was savory enough that I felt satiated.

                                      Then the best dish of the evening - the dessert tasting menu. It certainly is a "lets throw stuff around and see what works. The course of mousses that are doused in coffee and then liquid N2 chilled was amazing. The peanut butter version certainly sticks out. I also remember a dippin dot ice cream that had green apple flavoring amongst others. I think there were 3 or 4 courses of desserts, all tasty but over the course of the week I've forgotten the rest.

                                      I enjoy Victory 44, and have had great/personable service there, so trying Travail felt very similar, although the energy was higher, but the food quality was equivalent. I don't know if I'm willing to pick one or the other, and expect to find myself at both again in near future.

                                      Victory 44
                                      2203 44th Ave N, Minneapolis, MN