While the Travail Collective builds a new home in downtown Robbinsdale, its chefs have kept busy at Travail in Residence, a series of weeks-long pop-ups staged at 1930 Hennepin Av. S. in Minneapolis, the former home of Bradstreet Craftshouse and, before that, Auriga.
First it was Umami, a foray into contemporary Asian flavors. That was followed by Homage, which focused on classic 1990s dining. Kua, and its emphasis on modern Mexican cooking, will end on Sept. 14. A fourth iteration wasn’t in the works for co-owners James Winberg, Bob Gerken and Mike Brown.
“But our construction is taking longer than expected,” said Brown.
That delay has created an opening for Solera from Travail, an affectionate reboot of chef Tim McKee’s influential Spanish tapas restaurant, which McKee and then-business partner Josh Thoma opened in 2003 in downtown Minneapolis; the duo parted ways in 2010, and the restaurant ran under different ownership until 2014.
“We were hanging out with Tim,” said Brown. “He’s opened so many restaurants, and I asked him, ‘Is there any concept that you wish you could do again?’ And he said, ‘Out of all of it, I’d say Solera.’”
McKee, chef/owner of Octo Fishbar in St. Paul, is sharing Solera recipes.
Here’s a barometer of Solera’s popularity: on Facebook, McKee asked for feedback regarding favorite Solera dishes. “I don’t know that I’ve ever put up anything that got more comments,” he said. “It’s really flattering that Solera still means something, and it’s cool that it resonated with Mike and James and Bob.”
Tasting menu items will include octopus ceviche, escargot with chorizo and paella with grilled Portugese sausages, and the bar’s a la carte menu will feature a kafta burger, harissa-braised rabbit and a smoked tomato salad.
“I love having the opportunity to see their take on all of this,” said McKee. “And I’m trying to figure out how to be on site a couple of days, at minimum. I love what they’re doing with their residency concept. It’s so ambitious, because scrapping a restaurant and then building another one in the course of a few weeks is pretty amazing.”
Solera at Travail will debut Sept. 20 and run through the end of the year. Tasting menu prices range from $85 to $110, with an additional $45 beverage pairing. Tickets go on sale at travailkitchen.com on Thursday, Aug. 22.
In other McKee news, Octo Fishbar will be hosting a five-course, sake-fueled dinner on Sept. 18. McKee will be joined by Shige Furukawa (Kaiseki Furukawa and Kado No Mise), Jim Christiansen (formerly of Heyday), Danny Del Prado (Martina and Colita), and Adrienne Odom (Salty Tart). Sake Story Imports of Seattle will be providing the artisanal sake pairings. Tickets are $125 (plus tax and gratuity) and are available here.