• Lara Draxler

Date Night Review: Travail Kitchen and Amusements (Robbinsdale, MN)


Last Christmas, we received a fun gift certificate to a restaurant in the Minneapolis area called Travail Kitchen and Amusements. We were so excited to try it, but due to COVID, we weren't able to try it until this month. It was worth the wait!


We absolutely loved our experience. Travail is like no other dining experience I have ever had. We bought tickets to a dining "event" that we chose online. We booked it about a month out due to limited availability and seating in the dining room. It was prix fixe and also had the option to add on a wine flight that paired with each course which we chose to do because we love wine paired with the perfect foods. There were several options for culinary experiences available to book, but we went with the Travail du Jour, a "A French bistro coursed dinner series served by the chef owners of the restaurant."


The following description sold me:

"Dinner is 6-8 courses featuring items like charcuterie, endives with red wine poached pear and bleu cheese, ratatouille, duck a l’orange, steak frites with sauce au poivre, and desserts from our wonderfully talented pastry team."


So, we made our reservation and everything was paid for in advance (other than gratuity). I kind of liked that. I knew exactly what my bill was before going and knew exactly what that price was getting me. Again, this is not a cheap meal, but it is an OUTSTANDING meal with impeccable service. I would recommend the experience for a celebration or special occasion. We were so happy with our experience. I felt it was worth every penny.


We made the little over 60 minute drive to Robbinsdale, just outside of Minneapolis, and were pleased with how accessible and easy to find the restaurant was. Parking was also free and close by, a hot commodity in a suburb of a big city. We were warmly welcomed into the restaurant and seated by one of the chefs. We sat at the bar right by the kitchen. Chuck loves to watch the food being prepared so it was the perfect spot for us. I wish I had taken more pictures that night of everything, but I was enjoying our experience so much I just tried to be in the moment.


As we were seated, we had a beautiful charcuterie board and champagne awaiting us. I felt all night long that we got generous portions and wonderful service. We also appreciated the sommelier (wine expert) coming around with every course and telling us more about the wines in our flight.


Wine flight we pre-booked.

Menu courses-loved EVERYTHING

We nibbled on our charcuterie board and really enjoyed the salmon, pate, and smoked chicken salad the most.

Charcuterie Board

Courses were then coming out every ten minutes or so. Our reservation gave us two hours of time to get through all the courses and we savored each one.


The portions were plenty for two folks to share without being too stuffed. We loved the fries below because they weren't TOO full of that truffle taste, just enough.

Truffle fries

We enjoyed the next dish very much. It was a cantaloupe salad of sorts. You got that hit of fresh summer melon but it was spicy, a very interesting flavor combo.


melon bites, but make it spicy!

The next dish may have been my favorite of the experience...ratatouille! Yup, like the Disney Pixar mouse. :) But, this was fresh and zesty and SO summery. It was absolutely wonderful.

ratatouille

The next course may have been my favorite of the meats we tried. It had an amazing sauce but was also paired with a REALLY good red Spanish wine. (see above menu cards for exact name)

duck

We also loved the salmon and beef courses. The beef was served with a cute little serving of creamed spinach and the salmon with a delicious Hollandaise sauce and accompanying leek, a veggie I came to love in Wales but I feel gets so little attention here in the US.


salmon


beef with spinach underneath

And you can't forget dessert! I LOVED the pastry selections. We also sampled some yummy (and rich) dessert wines. The very pretty pink drink in the lovely glassware is a watermelon refresher that I loved. The other drink is a French cognac. The pastry puffs were filled with the most fluffy and delicious raspberry cream. Loved, loved, loved.


The dessert below was our last course and we loved it too. It was basically a wonderful homemade do nut with fresh cream and fruit.

All in all, we agreed we LOVED this dinner and we would definitely book another experience in the future at Travail. We also felt we got a lot of very special food and treatment for the price point. We loved all the attention to detail and the overall vibe of the place--great music, decor, and incredibly hospitable staff. We saw everyone working as a team to make this giant dinner party a success. We did tip around 20 % even though I am not sure how tipping works when you have multiple staff seeing to all the guest's needs throughout the night.


As I said before, this isn't probably an average Friday night date night for most folks, but it was PERFECT for a special celebration or event. If you are a foodie of any sort, you need to make the trip to Travail. It was so special, and we won't ever forget it.

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