What's poppin' at Travail Kitchen?

Travail is cooking up the ultimate pop-up restaurant.

RICK NELSON
Updated 5/7/2015

Because they didn’t already have enough going on in their three-ring, four-star circus of a restaurant, the creative-energy-to-burn ownership behind Travail Kitchen & Amusements is taking on another project, and it’s a doozy.

Following their passion for pop-up projects (remember their dynamite Umami in north Minneapolis?) chefs/co-owners Mike Brown, James Winberg and Bob Gerken are crafting a kind of restaurant-within-a-restaurant inside their one-of-a-kind culinary showplace.

“It’s going to be all about precision dining,” said Brown. “Maybe that’s not the right word. But it’s the idea of cooking a certain type of food, one that’s built around a product or idea, and changes every month or so.”

For example?

“Maybe it’s all about lamb,” he said. “Or when fall rolls around, we’ll explore foie gras. Or maybe it’ll be about hot pot. Or spring vegetables. It’s a really good way for us to take something we already have an interest in, and really develop it and explore it, and push it as far as we can. It’s doing the things you can only do if you have a 12-seat restaurant.”

The plan is to prepare a single-seating (starting at 6:30 p.m.), three-hour, multicourse dinner.

Ever the innovator, Travail adopted a ticket system earlier this year, asking diners to go online and purchase prepaid reservations; the new venture will follow that same format.

“We do not anticipate offering walk-ins for this project,” said Travail’s Megan Leafblad.

The price is possibly the Twin Cities’ most expensive regularly scheduled dining experience. Each dinner will initially run $200 per person, plus tax, tip and a minor (roughly $2) ticket service fee. The tax, ticket service fee and predetermined 18 percent tip will be charged at the time of the purchase. Total tab: Roughly $250 per person.

Diners can also purchase (in advance, or at the door) a beverage pairing, consisting of a varying selection of wines, beers, cocktails and juices. Cost is $75, plus tax, tip and ticket service fee.

“We’re figuring out how to connect with people in another way,” said Brown. “I have the feeling that this is going to bring out some fun shenanigans. Think about it this way: Say we’re exploring shellfish. You’re going to get the best shellfish dinner you’ve ever had in your life.”

Brown said that one customer category they’re targeting is the regular Travail diner. “They’ve been consistently checking out what we’ve been doing for the last five years, so they’re pretty keen to see what we’re up to next,” he said. “Maybe they’ll want to follow us a little further down the rabbit hole.”

The still-unnamed project (“naming something is really, really hard,” said Brown) will begin mid-month. Ticket sales start May 12. Buy them at www.tempotickets.com/travail.

Project Unnamed is being carved out of real estate from the 60-seat Rookery, otherwise known as Travail’s drop-in side. The space is undergoing a quick remodeling, designed and built by the power-tool-loving Travail crew, of course.

But the Rookery isn’t disappearing. The ultra-imaginative cocktails will continue to flow under the direction of Travailian Kale Thome, who will also reformat the lengthy small-plates menu into what Leafblad describes as “progressive bar food.” During the changeup period, the Rookery’s popular Saturday brunch will go on hiatus.

Travail Kitchen & Amusements

Where: 4124 W. Broadway, Robbins­dale.

Info: www.travail­kitchen.com.

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