Hello fellow gormandizers! I’ve returned to deliver another helping of everyone’s favorite, least updated food blog!
It’s been forever since I’ve done an entry for this thing so I wanted to review a really special restaurant, Minneapolis’ Travail.
I had the pleasure of eating at Travail recently and it was quite the dining experience. They incorporate so many different textures, flavors and sensations over the span of many courses so be prepared to devote several hours of your time there.
First of all get there early because there will be a wait.
I had to wait for an hour and a half since the place was so busy. However, I would implore you to stick it out at the bar because the food really is worth the wait, plus they have Surly Furious on tap.
Once we were finally seated I quickly realized what all the hype was about. Travail serves a ten-course tasting menu which is varied, well-executed and whimsical.
They also bring out several bite size snacks in between the official courses just because the chefs are trying out new things constantly.
Oysters escabeche was the first course to hit the table. It was deconstructed so that the acidic citrus element was served on the side as a little gelatin rectangle.
There were also tapioca “pearls” served in the same dish as the oysters and the whole dish was meant to be eaten with a baby spoon; definitely an interesting way to start and was a fun take on a classic dish.
Next up was a four-bite appetizer that included a hamachi “taco” with a sweet soy reduction wrapped up in a thin slice of lemon, parmesan panna cotta, compressed watermelon and finally a peeled grape tomato soaked in soy sauce and sesame oil.
Each bite was totally unique, the grape tomato to me though was the star of that dish.
After that, we were served a chicken tortellini course with radish, beets and string beans.
Instead of grating parmesan cheese over the pasta one of the chefs came over and grated frozen foies gras on top of the dish, very decadent but it totally worked for the course.
A piece of melt-in-your-mouth sous-vide arctic char was served next and was accompanied by Chinese sausage, orange segments, puffed rice, carrot and thinly sliced jalapeños. There was also a delicious Thai coconut curry sauce that brought the whole dish together.
The course that marked the halfway point of the meal was a total stunner.
First, a long plank of wood was placed across the table. Then, a series of about 7 chefs each came around with different sauce pans and literally assembled the dish in front of me.
First came a dusting of scallion powder, then avocado puree followed by sautéed spring onion.
Crunchy garlic chips were then added as well as shrimp scampi and a garlic confit ragu. The dish was finished with mac-and-cheese for good measure.
There was a lot happening on that piece of wood but everything worked great together and was definitely one of the most unique presentations I’ve ever seen.
Shortly after the chefs finished plating, someone in the kitchen started blasting “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan over the P.A. speakers — a triumphant mood was in the air.
There were still many more delicious and interesting courses to come but I think I’ll stop here for now. Stay tuned for Part 2 coming next week!
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