Sunday, August 15, 2021

Travail Pour la Deuxième Fois

I don’t know what made me think we had been to Travail more than once, but that was a mental hallucination I guess. We’ve been there once before, before Covid, when they were renovating their spot in Robbinsdale and were located in Uptown.

Driving to Robbinsdale wasn’t very appealing but then Lee said let’s take an Uber, and suddenly it became a great idea. We bought tickets for a Wednesday night and their du jour French dining experience on their rooftop, plus their wine pairings. Yeah it cost $$$$$ but let’s just consider this a continuation of the 40th anniversary celebration that never happened because of Covid.

Our Lyft driver to the restaurant was very chatty. It was fun talking to him, but he got so excited talking about surfing that he missed our exit off the highway! He felt bad and it didn’t really delay us much at all. It actually was a little funny,

Their restaurant in Robbinsdale is beautiful. The rooftop actually has a roof, but is open on one side. It was a blue clear sky nice evening, very airy, no worries about needing a mask. 

As we entered the restaurant they handed us a glass of...something. It was non alcoholic, light and refreshing.

The was a band, a very good one with a pregnant female singer, a bass player, and an outstanding guitarist. I was worried about the band making it difficult to hear, but the acoustics were great and we were fine, although sometimes I wasn't quite sure what the server was saying. That's too bad, because the fun of Travail is the stories and details concerning the food.

The band asked for requests. I requested Brandy Carlyle, Lee requested Elvis Costello, we both requested Prince. Their guitarist was great, he came over and talked to us a little at one point.

When we first sat down at our table there was a charcuterie board with various appetizers laid out in front of us. There was a glass of what looked like champagne too, but the server said it was a bubbly Blanc from Burgundy. We waited to eat our appetizers until we had been given an explanation of what they were. It actually took them a little while to get us started. I'm not sure what was going on, but I think they might have had some confusion about who was supposed to serve us. I don't know, but the wine steward came over to tell us about our bubbly and realized we hadn't been given the lowdown on the charcuterie board yet and then everything was straightened out and went smoothly after that.

The charcuterie platter had a beef and salmon tartare, a chicken rillette on a slice of brioche bread, a little liver mousse puff, and a tartine of lobster and prawn. The chicken was great and so was the tartare. I wasn't crazy about the liver mousse or the tartine and I'm usually crazy about liver. 

Next there was a little round of cantaloupe with honey, pepper and lemon on it. It was just a little delicious bite.

The third course was a ratatouille with summer squash, eggplant, pepper, tomato and oregano. It tasted yummy but it was hard to decide if it should be eaten with a fork or a spoon. There was a lot of tomato sauce involved which made it a little like a summer soup. 

Then there was a piece of norwegian salmon with leek, pickled raisin and craisins, and a calamari sauce. This was fabulous. the  salmon was crusty and delicious and the dried fruit made for a nice contrast. This was one of my favorite courses.

Next came a little vinegar sorbet, light and refreshing and delicious.

Next came duck a l'orange. To tell the truth I have no memory of this course! After all by this point we were on our 5th glass of wine!

Then came beef with creamed spinach and a mushroom vinaigrette. This was memorable. The spinach was wonderful and the mushrooms were excellent. The beef was a little tough however.

Then came a watermelon refresher. I remember this mostly because I didn't really like it at all. Its the one thing I just ate one bite of and then put aside. 

For dessert there was a strawberry rhubarb cream puff and a baba savarin which is basically a fancy donut. I loved them both of course!

Let's see what I can remember about the wine. With the ratatouille we had a 2017 Gritole. I remember that it was light and was from Corsica. With the salmon we had a Chardonnay from Oregon. Yes it had that buttery taste that I'm not crazy about, but it wasn't overwhelming and really was pretty good for a west coast Chardonnay. With the duck and the beef we had a 2007 wine from Bandol. I don't remember much about it, just being impressed by the 2007 date! And with the desserts we had a sauternes from Bordeaux, which I loved.

I got sorta drunk; but hopefully not totally stupid. The food was wonderful but maybe not quite as memorable as the first time we came. 

We really love Travail, we’ll come back again, sometime. Our Lyft driver on the way home was totally silent. What a difference!

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