Would we go back:
4154 West Broadway
• 10 course tasting menu for two $70
◦ Gelee shot
◦ fois gras pop
◦ ham and cheese
◦ beef tartare
◦ apple salad
◦ potato soup
◦ shrimp taco
◦ sea bass
◦ pork plate
◦ curry mussels
◦ agnolotti pasta chedder cheese kumquat
◦ sweet breads, duck liver, fois gras
◦ passion fruit
◦ pumpkin raspberry dessert
◦ lemon pie
I can see why Travail is so popular and highly reviewed. We did the tasting menu which is 10+ courses for 2 for $70 which if you consider all the ingredients and complexity of the food is a steal, even without those considerations, it is a pretty good deal. We actually had about 15 course that I can remember. Ok, so I am not a great food reviewer since I did not take notes throughout so I could remember exactly. And most of the courses where really good to excellent. There were a couple where they had a lot of components, but they didn't all necessarily blend to become one dish like you might fine at some of the more amazing restaurants in the country. They have recently gotten good press from Bon Appetit magazine which named it 4th in a list of best new restaurants in America. I can see this, they are doing something different than many restaurants and it is interesting.
Ok, all that said, I may be too old to go to Travail. I am not that old, simply middle aged, but I no longer stay out late, eat late, etc. We got to the restaurant at 5:35 on Saturday we waited until 7:30 for at table, most of the time standing. Would we have done that normally no, mainly because we have a babysitter at home, but this night our son was spending the night at his cousins house so we had a free night which is amazing and I don't regret going to travail for the majority of it. So standing for two hours for a meal, is no longer my idea of good time. I will say the people watching was stellar which that and a big glass of wine made the time go by much faster. So then our names were finally called along with another couple who was seated the same time we were on a long communal table and they pretty much treated us as one party the entire night even though we did not know the couple at all and they were not a very talkative sort...they may have said 5 words to each other the entire evening so it was a bit awkward. Along with that the communal table which was about 30 seats made me feel like I was in high school and not necessarily at the cool table, which was clearly any other table in the restaurant. I think if you are going to make encourage someone to set through 10+ courses a better seating arrangement is required. Again the price makes it more palatable.
All that said, I will probably not return to Travail at least not until some of the buzz has died down and maybe with a larger group so we could get one of the better tables.
Travail is one of THE places to be in 2011 in the Twin Cities. It is getting rave reviews as one of the top restaurants in the nation, and I can understand why. There are many things to like about Travail - each course is crazy with ingredients, crazy complex, and crazy delicious. A foie gras pop? They are delivered by the dozen. A plate of sweet breads? Sure. Twin Cities diners have put their trust in Travail chefs, and the dozen or so course meal is outstanding. To top it off, the price is right.
The down sides: a wait of an hour and forty-five minutes, seating at a large table elbow to elbow with strangers, and a noisy, sometimes chaotic atmosphere. Hardly the place for a romantic evening out. I would recommend going to Travail on a weeknight when things are less hectic. Or maybe ease your way into the concept by going to the delightful Victory 44. Or just throw caution to the wind, put on a pair of comfortable shoes, and be prepared to wait for a dining experience that you will remember for a long time.
December 10, 2011