Review: Travail Kitchen and Amusements

August 2, 2017
Restaurants

Six-foot, seven-foot, eight-foot bunch

Six-foot, seven-foot, eight-foot bunch

Lil’ Wayne is blasting over the speakers as Ace Venture: Pet Detective is showing on a large TV screen.  We are seated to a cherry with foie palate cleanser and a prosecco beverage with Leche sorbet and Globe basil. This would kick off the 25-course tasting menu extravaganza at Travail Kitchen and Amusements. I knew I was truly in for a full sensory experience. 

Travail Kitchen Front Door
Unmarked Entrance to Travail

A recent travel survey from AAA found that an estimated 22 million Americans expect to take a culinary-focused vacation in the next 12 months. While my recent weekend getaway to Minneapolis wasn’t a full blown culinary vacation, I still have to say this destination was specifically a must on my list.

If you are familiar with The Catbird Seat, it’s a similar experience to that if you added yelling, beer drinking out of a glass boot, stuffed animals, fire, and a gong to the mix.

Roasted Suckling Pig
Guest of Honor

It’s pretty hard to describe what the experience is here outside of unique, stunning, and straight up spectacular. I wanted to read some reviews and prepare myself, but decided that I wanted to go in with a fresh perspective and an open mind.  I wasn’t even ready for what was in store for me in the next 2-hours. 

Don’t worry though with all those courses and the 2-hour meal.  They break it up nicely in stages with multiple palate cleansers and take you on field trips throughout the restaurant.

Seriously this 25-course tasting menu is like a 12 round prize fight.  The bites just keep coming and coming and keep getting better and better.  It was a fortunate thing they provided a full menu at the end of the night because, after a few courses, I threw in the note taking towel and just enjoyed myself (outside of taking gobs of pictures).

The menu breaks down like this:

Appetizers

Prosecco - Leche Sorbet / Globe Basil
Prosecco - Leche Sorbet / Globe Basil
Cherry - Foie
Cherry - Foie
Soup - Kohlrabi / Fennel / Bacon / Thyme / Potato
Soup - Kohlrabi / Fennel / Bacon / Thyme / Potato

Panna Cotta, Cornets & Crackling appetizer
Three Bite Appetizer

Panna Cotta - Goat Cheese / Heirloom Beets

Cornet - King Crab / Red Ball Mayo / Fruit Leather

Crackling - Black Garlic / Chinese Sausage / Gochujang

Meat Hooks - Tasso Ham
Meat Hooks - Tasso Ham
Mezzo - Currant Sorbet / Balsamic Reduction / Lemon Balm
‍Mezzo - Currant Sorbet / Balsamic Reduction / Lemon Balm

Vegetable

Fresh Summer Vegetables
Summer Vegetables - Heirloom Tomato / Beet / Orange / Speck Ham / Baby Cucumber / Zucchini / Garlic Dirt / Ricotta / Goat Cheese / Oxalis / Nasturtium / Garlic Scapes / Pesto / Breakfast Radish / Peas
Mezzo  - Granny Smith Apple Soda / Lemon Ice
‍Mezzo  - Granny Smith Apple Soda / Lemon Ice

Fish

Scallop Tartare - Scallop Mayo / Spring Onion / Radish / Silver Sorrel / Coriander / Pepperoni / Salsa Verde Broth
‍Scallop Tartare - Scallop Mayo / Spring Onion / Radish / Silver Sorrel / Coriander / Pepperoni / Salsa Verde Broth
Halibut - Speck / Oyster Lemon Risotto / Sea Beans / Crispy Garlic / Globe Basil
‍Halibut - Speck / Oyster Lemon Risotto / Sea Beans / Crispy Garlic / Globe Basil
Arctic Char - Sorrels / Almonds / Haricot Vert
Arctic Char - Sorrels / Almonds / Haricot Vert
Lobster Shrimp Corn Dog - Old Bay Mustard / Giardiniera
Lobster Shrimp Corn Dog - Old Bay Mustard / Giardiniera

Mezzo - Anti-griddle Lollipop / Lemon Curd / Raspberry Puree
Mezzo - Anti-griddle Lollipop / Lemon Curd / Raspberry Puree (before)
Mezzo - Anti-griddle Lollipop / Lemon Curd / Raspberry Puree
Mezzo - Anti-griddle Lollipop / Lemon Curd / Raspberry Puree (after)
Mezzo - Anti-griddle Lollipop / Lemon Curd / Raspberry Puree
Mezzo - Anti-griddle Lollipop / Lemon Curd / Raspberry Puree (completed presentation)

Foie - Finger Lime / Coconut / Jasmine / Seed Treat Cracker

Side note on this: This course was a field trip to the back of the restaurant. We put our hand into a hole and had the dish assembled on our hand. Didn't get a picture here.

Suckling Pig

Poole - Hominy / Tomato / Tortilla / Cilantro / Parsley / Lime
Poole - Hominy / Tomato / Tortilla / Cilantro / Parsley / Lime
Baby Green Salad - Crunchy Skin / Crispy Pork / Horseradish / Pickled Celery
Baby Green Salad - Crunchy Skin / Crispy Pork / Horseradish / Pickled Celery
Canadian Bacon - Corn Pudding / Chanterelle / Popcorn / Sunflower Seed / Garden Greens
Canadian Bacon - Corn Pudding / Chanterelle / Popcorn / Sunflower Seed / Garden Greens

Beef

Smoked Hanger Steak - Chermoula Sauce / Smoked Onion Sauce / Herbs / Heirloom Tomatoes
‍Smoked Hanger Steak - Chermoula Sauce / Smoked Onion Sauce / Herbs / Heirloom Tomatoes
Mezzo - Flash-frozen Passion Fruit Fluff
‍Mezzo - Flash-frozen Passion Fruit Fluff

Dessert

Four course dessert plate
Four Course Dessert Plate

Butterscotch Pot De Creme - Nectarine / Creme Fraiche 

Carmel - Coconut

Pate De Fruit - Prosecco

Profiterole - Chocolate / Raspberry Mousse

Flambe Cake - Sweet Lemon Soak / Pistachio Butter / Mint / Stone Fruit Flambe / Smashed Vanilla Ice Cream
‍Flambe Cake - Sweet Lemon Soak / Pistachio Butter / Mint / Stone Fruit Flambe / Smashed Vanilla Ice Cream

Take Home - Watermelon Slurpee

Phew!  That took about as long as it did to eat it all!

I didn’t know it at the time, but our group of six was seated in the bar area (in my opinion the best seat in the house) and one of the owners did prep next to my seat and we chatted a bit about dining, Nashville, etc.  He also came up after the dinner was over and talked again with me and my dining buddy for at least 15-20 minutes.  You can tell that the fun, crazy drive that fuels the place starts at the top and is ingrained in the staff and the building.

My dining buddy has since made reservations to go back and plans to make multiple visits in the future.  I expect that when I return later in the fall that I will be back as well.

There are a plethora of places that you can get a great meal, but the feeling, vibe, and pure enjoyment that you get at Travail Kitchen and Amusements cannot be matched.  If you are in the Minneapolis area, planning on visiting, or looking for a destination for your next culinary vacation, go book a reservation. Their food is no joke, even if they do joke around.

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