The final Minneapolis residency for Travail has opened up and the last temporary restaurant to hold court on Hennepin Avenue is Solera. The restaurant was a fixture of downtown Minneapolis in the 2000’s, closing for the final time in 2014. The restaurant opened with a Spanish dominated menu, helmed by James Beard Award winning chef Tim McKee. Now fans are flocked to Hennepin Avenue once again for the boquerones, octopus, jamón, and of course, paella.
Like all of Travail’s other temporary restaurants inside the old Auriga/Rye/Bradstreet Craftshouse space Solera offers a bombastic tasting menu that involves eaters. Diners will march through the dining room, pluck Serrano ham from a crystal chandelier, and experience a custom-made rolling paella service that has to be seen to be appreciated.
There is also a separate a la carte menu in the bar that doesn’t require a reservation or ticket. Folks can wander in and taste a wide selection of fresh and modern cocktails created by Travail’s bar master Nathaniel Smith. Drinks include vermouth and other traditional Spanish flavors. Also, Solera’s classic sangria back in action.
The full tasting menu requires tickets that start in price at $85 with optional $45 beverage pairings. All taxes and gratuity are included. The tasting extravaganza begins with a cavalcade of nibbles: croquettes, cheese, stuffed piquillo peppers, chorizo and more. Then the entire table is led on a field trip to a back room where there’s a whole spread slowly revealed. Ham dangles from a chandelier. Skewers are surrounded by plumes of smoke.
There are four separate seatings offered per night, allowing for each meal to progress at a reasonable pace for the chefs. One chef/server per section is dedicated to stewarded the eaters through the whole process.
After the field trip, people are shepherded back to their tables, where the custom-made paella cart is wheeled over. The piece was custom built for the chefs, to be able to cook the traditional rice dish throughout the dining room.
Solera will operate inside this location until the first weekend in November. After that Travail will pack their paella cart and head back to Robbinsdale, where a new permanent home is currently under construction.