March 12, 2011

Will Travail for Food

Okay, so last night I was at Bar La Grassa--the place that for the past year has been the "it" reservation to have. You couldn't get in on a weekend night unless you had planned in advance. Way in advance.

The tables have turned this year. I hear Heidi's is now the equally (or more) challenging "it" reservation to have.

And now Robbinsdale is also offering up its own challenge. Robbinsdale!

It's called Travail (pronounced to rhyme with hi, not rail). The French word for work.

I now know that the chefs there (all 9? of them) work extremely hard at what they put on the table. It's all delicious. I now also know that one has to work strategically to get a table. We showed up at 4:48 pm tonight--because I thought a 5:00 dinner on a Saturday night was a sure fire way to not have to wait. 4:48 vs 5:00 because we're always early.

We were numbers 25, 26, 27, and 28 in line. On 4:48 pm on a Saturday night! In Robbinsdale! When it was 19 degrees out! (Actually, 19 degrees out when we got there, 17 by the time we got in.)



And now I see why. In short, Travail is a compilation of some great Twin Cities chefs who all cook and serve what they cook. With some funk, with some attitude, but with sincerity.

Simple menu items are listed on the blackboards used to decorate the space.
Beet Salad
Blue Cheese Tots

But what I will be having next time is the $60 10-course tasting menu for 2. Each course consists of 1 plate for you and your date to share. It's clearly the popular choice there.

But we newcomers ordered a la carte, and also ate well.

Blue Cheese Tots were lightly fried, actually tasted like potatoes, had a subtle hint of blue cheese, and came in a bowl smeared with homemade ketchup.

The Broadway Butter Burger (yes, lame, but what I was hungry for) was very tasty, with 2 kinds of cheese, onions, mustard, and pickles. But maybe a tad too salty (I've had 2 glasses of water already since getting home). Accompanying fries: amazing.

The Steak was perfectly cooked. More exciting though were the accompaniments! Not baby--but premie bokchoy, sauteed mushrooms, roasted garlic cloves, and silky creamy scalloped potatoes.

The Agnolotti was buttery for sure. Extremely buttery, says John-Paul. And rich. But somehow delicate all at the same time. With a smart piece of grilled bread to sop up the remaining butteriness when finished.

The dessert sampler was loved by all in this crazy Yates / Cohen group. De-constructed pineapple upside down cake prepared on a frozen marble slab, an orange and chocolate collage of sorts, and a rendition of a s'more under a glass cloche that smelled like campfire when lifted off. For reals.

And my personal fave of the night, the thing that I will be anxiously awaiting next time I go back: the lemon bar with sour cream dippin' dot ice cream and lemon thyme vinaigrette. Perfection.

Will go back to this place. Soon. And often. But god, between this and Lola, 5:00 is going to become the norm vs the exception.

Travail Kitchen & Amusements on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. So you were 25th in long of a wait did that translate into??