When the team behind Travail Collective, the Robbinsdale-based restaurateurs, decided to open a barbecue takeout place in northeast Minneapolis, the barbecue landscape was a lot emptier.
But in the ensuing years of licensing and renovation delays, barbecue became something of a thing in this quadrant of the city. In the last few months, Beast Barbecue (825 E. Hennepin., Mpls., 612-584-3657, beastbarbecue.com) and Animales Barbeque Co. (1121 Quincy St. NE., 347-661-5608, animalesbarbeque.com) opened. Market Bar-B-Que (220 Lowry Av. NE., Mpls.,612-872-1111, marketbbq.com) relocated from Nicollet Avenue. And Bark and the Bite opened, closed due to fire, and moved on to St. Paul (2186 Marshall Av., St. Paul, 651-528-7928, barkandthebite.com).
Tonight, starting at 5 p.m., Travail’s Minnesota Barbecue Company joins the crowd (816 Lowry Av. NE., Mpls., 612-315-4967, minnesotabbqco.com)
Chef Kale Thome, a Kansas native and longtime Travail chef, is the smoked meat mastermind, who will be cooking up ribs, brisket and chicken in a custom vertical smoker, at this (mostly) takeout joint in a former dentist’s office.
To start, the menu skews traditional, but will expand in Travailian fashion with some off-the-wall specials going forward. Look for smoked hanger steak; duck breast from a Minnesota foie gras farm; and a goose burger served in the form of a “Goosey Lucy.”
“Kale is such a technician, that when it comes to creating food, making a consistent product, that’s what this is being bet on,” said Mike Brown, Travail co-owner. “People are going to eat this and say, ‘Wow.’ ”
In addition to the meats, there will be a variety of sides, including dirty rice, cheesy noodles, apple fennel slaw, cucumber salad, baked beans and fresh onion buns.
The space is too small for the sit-down tasting menu shenanigans Travail is known for. Instead, there is some outdoor grassy areas for hanging out, and they’ll be delivering to nearby breweries.
“Travail is an experience-driven restaurant,” Brown said. “This is totally different than anything we’ve ever done. But it’s all about making good food.”