When you hear 3-hour 20-course tasting menu, my guess is you are not envisioning a restaurant with giant stuffed animals in the rafters of the dining room, or one with a raucous atmosphere where the chefs are also the waiters and food runners, and often microphone-wielding MCs who encourage group participation in Wheel of Fortune. There are no white tablecloths, no need to put on a tie. At Travail, chef/co-owners Mike Brown, Bob Gerken and James Winberg mix frat-like camaraderie with playful yet thoughtful menus—a combination of modernist technique, Midwest influence and endless creativity. And it works, because they take their food seriously. These are guys whose business model is predicated on ‘hacking’ fine dining, who refuse to dilute the independent renegade vibe they have carefully cultivated. They work hard and have a lot of fun. And we admire that.
These days there are four ways to have a Travail experience, each a unique concept. Beyond the tasting menu they built their reputation on, there’s also a Family Meal option, which features the chef’s favorite dishes in hearty sharable portions. On a recent visit, the four-course meal included chicken and pork pate, linguine with stuffed clams, duck confit with incredible duck fat potatoes, and a meringue-topped lemon tart.
Down the block, order a piggy pie—pepperoni three ways on a brioche crust—and a pitcher of local beer at Pig Ate My Pizza.
Or if you frequent the breweries in Northeast, you’re bound to run into chef Kale Thome and his Minnesota BBQ Co. pop ups, featuring smoked duck, ribs and brisket, slaw, amazing baked beans and housemade pickles.
Together, the Travail Collective has made an indelible mark on the Twin Cities dining scene and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Contact 4124 W Broadway Ave Robbinsdale, MN 55422 travailkitchen.com