Review: At Travail, work is fun

  • Article by: Rick Nelson , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 28, 2010 - 9:12 AM

In downtown Robbinsdale, molecular gastronomy -- with a side of bar basics -- is sold at blue-collar prices. It's a remarkable, spirited enterprise.

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jimdahlineOct. 28, 10 7:51 AM

I've been there a few times and they are great. Where else can you get a butter burger and fries one day, and oysters/scallops the next?

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foodiemplsOct. 28, 1012:06 PM

It is very unfortunate that the media continues to disregard the fact that these guys stole an idea from their previous employer and moved a mile down the road copying everything from the chalkboards, decoration, menu items, pricing, wine menu, etc. etc. etc. Are they producing decent food - yes - to a point. I've been there and wasn't any more impressed than I was at Victory 44 and will go back there before I ever go back to Travail. Travail's staff acts extremely pretentious and their environment is stale. As for the comment up above, you asked where you could get a burger and fries one day and scallops the next - a mile down the road where the chef as server idea was first launched. Victory 44's food is amazing, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and the staff is friendly.

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Artemis286Oct. 28, 1012:30 PM

I absolutely love Travail. My fiancee and I try to dine there at least once a week to enjoy the great drinks and great food at fabulous prices. I cannot say enough about this place and the owners plus the other hard workers that really put this icing on this "cake." We used to frequent Victory 44 as we live just down the street but after receiving terrible service time after time we gave up. The idea of a gastropub style restaurant is not new; there are many out there just as there are multiple Italian, Mexican, and sports bar type restaurants. There's enough room for competition! The key is the service and the atmosphere (and obviously the food and drink)and Victory 44 just can't compete anymore.

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peeteyOct. 28, 10 1:02 PM

The Travail guys stole nothing from Victory 44. That is a common misconception --- All these pictures make want to head back for another taster... mmmmm... "FENDER HERE!"

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Mools001Oct. 28, 10 2:49 PM

...Travail and Victory 44, but we live in Robbinsdale, and want to support local business. The two restaurants are very similar, and both offer a lovely dining experience. BUT, If I hear "Where's Robbinsdale?", one more time, I'm going to hurl. Travail, Nonna Rosa, and Hackenmueller's, ans Wuollet, may have FINALLY put us on the map as a fine place to live, raise a family, dine, and recreate. Robbinsdale has MUCH more to offer than North Memorial Hospital. Enough already!

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jimdahlineOct. 28, 10 6:02 PM

So, can noone sell a burger since McDonalds did it first? Come on. I haven't been to Victory 44 but will someday try it, but to complain about a restaurant idea because someone else did it, who really cares? Do you own Victory or something? I went to Travail and had a great experience, and it sounds like the author of this article did the same, is it not ok to comment on our experiences? Manny's does great steaks but they stole it from Harry's in Manhattan so don't go there. Lame comments. Travail was fun and had great food. I'm sure there are other restaurants that are fun and have great food, but you know what, they weren't the topic of this article. Don't vote for the democrat in the 8th district because he stole the ideas from the democrat in the 4th district. That sounds stupid right?

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cheferickOct. 28, 10 8:14 PM

As the chef and owner of Victory 44 and having the pleasure of working with James and Mike I just want to give them some props. James and Mike are absolutly two of the most passionate and talented cooks I have ever worked with. As far as the idea that they stole some ideas from Victory 44-whatever-the restaurants are pretty different yet have some simularities. Good business practice is good business practice. I am excited that more diners are coming over torwards North and I hope that the locals dont compare the two places and understand that we are both working torwards the same cause and thats to produce good food and service and nurture young cooks/ and dishwashers to experience some fo the same passion we have found in this career. I say "cheers" to the travail boys and lets keep bringing the foodies over this way!!!

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jimdahlineOct. 29, 10 7:47 AM

Classy. Unbelievably classy.

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maximumsmomOct. 29, 10 6:51 PM

This is STEALING! Imagine if everyone just picked what ever they wanted at whatever park they wanted. Good luck seeing any flowers, mushrooms etc. on your next park visit. SHAME ON THESE ADULTS THAT SHOULD KNOW BETTER!!!!

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mplsgirl1Oct. 31, 10 7:30 PM

Going to Travail last night for the first time was like starring in an episode of the Twilight Zone- and not because of the zombies enjoying the Halloween festivities outside. Although not identical, the menu, decor, and staff can definitely be categorized as more than "similar." I'm confused (and disappointed) as to why these two men had the opportunity to meet a myriad of unfulfilled dining needs in NOMI/Robbinsdale, and instead chose to "imitate" a concept that can be found just down the street. Additionally, I think the chefs rely too much on presentation and not enough on flavor- everything we got seemed to fall flat. We were interrupted no less than five times by a slew of chef/servers to ask how everything was- when we replied "good," our hosts seemed to be surprised that we weren't blown away by the amazing gastronomic experience they were providing us. It was pretty annoying to say the least. When I'm in the mood for bacon fritas (as they're called on the east side of the parkway), tableside fireworks, hipster beers, chalk menus, or multi-course desserts, I will continue to patronize Victory 44 for the privacy factor alone. Chef Harcey, I applaud you for taking the high road, but I ask you and Chefs Brown and Winberg- can this quadrant of the city really sustain two "gastropubs?"

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