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Travail’s Final Minneapolis Pop-Up Combines Grandma Chic With Modern Fine Dining

Karyn Tomlinson partners with the chef collective for Uffda

The final, final Travail residency digs into Minnesota’s Scandinavian culture for inspiration
| Courtney Perry/Travail

It’s for real this time: the actually final Travail Residency is serving one more round of fun, food, and cocktails on Hennepin Avenue. Uffda is a colloraboration between the constantly evolving chef collective known as Travail and chef Karyn Tomlinson. Tomlinson was the closing chef at Minneapolis’ landmark farm-to-table restaurant Corner Table, known for her refined cuisine and expert ways with a Swedish meatball. Tomlinson drew on her Swedish grandma for inspiration for the tasting menu and accompanying bar snack lineup.

As with every other temporary restaurant that Restaurant of the Year 2019 winner Travail has hosted inside 1930 Hennepin Avenue, tickets are available for a full dining experience and there are seats and a bar menu available on a first come, first served basis.

A mounted deer head overlooks the amber-lit dining room, filled with people
The restaurant has again been given a makeover, this time the decor is built to reflect rural MN

Since early 2019 Travail, the landmark Minneapolis chef collective from Mike Brown, James Winberg, and Bob Gerken has been operating out of this restaurant with revolving concepts. Each time, the room is entirely redecorated, the menu built from the ground-up, and often notable chefs are brought in to collaborate with them. Previous incarnations have included Homage with Doug Flicker, notable because Flicker used to operate Auriga out of this address in the 90s. Gustavo Romero brought Mexico City flavors and energy with Kua. Tim McKee shared some classic Solera recipes for the roving paella pan party that was originally billed as the final pop-up here.

An orange disk of Jello contains an orange segment while a bloop of aerated sour cream is applied to the dish via an ISI canister
The finest Jello salad ever made

The continuous party has been a place holder as Travail has been constructing an entirely new restaurant in downtown Robbinsdale. When there were a few more touches required before opening to the public, the crew reached out to Tomlinson about a rather Minnesotan collaboration.

Karyn Tomlinson sits under a mounted deer head, looking into the distance
Karyn Tomlinson contemplates meatballs, egg coffee, and whether Jello actually counts as salad

In addition to her time at Corner Table, Tomlinson is also a Grand Cochon champion, a national pork culinary competition. Handily winning the local and national championship, she wowed everyone with her pork-based dishes built from her Scandinavian roots, which meat meatballs dressed with a creamy gravy and a tart bit of fruit. That dish is on the Uffda tasting menu, along with other comfort food classics given a little cheffing up, like a pot pie stuffed with duck confit and topped with crust and a pat of foie gras.

Fancy pot pie topped with foie gras and stuffed with duck confit

Like other Travail residency’s the tasting menu unfolds on each table, with multiple courses, only taking a break for a moment for a “field trip.”

An overhead shot of a Bingo card and a hand holding a dauber and a metal cup with a shot of liquid in it
Aquavit shots and Bingo

Diners walk to a back room, this time with an antler-adorned chandelier, dangling bits of cured salmon over a spread of snacks. Shots of aquavit are poured for all interest in imbibing a bit of that bracing Scandinavian spirit that’s infused with caraway seed and other clean spice notes.

Fried fish strips in a metal cup, served on a board with a side of white, creamy sauce
Snacks include some walleye fingers and tartare sauce

Bingo cards are then handed out, and the entire room competes, while stopping only for a few snacks.

A long, thin white plate holds little brown meatballs topped with ruby fruit dollop on toothpicks
Karyn Tomlinson’s famous Swedish Meatballs

Once Bingo is over, guests walk back through the dining room to their seats for the second half of the menu.

An entree is served on a doily trivet with sausage over mashed potatoes with wee baby parsnips

The multi-course tasting menu is available by ticket, with prices ranging from $80 to $120 with optional wine pairings.

Dessert is a multi-bite affair with bars, cookies, and strawberries and cream

Or, those wanted to check out a few bites of smorgasbord or a serious burger of note, can stop by the bar for a la carte ordering and open seats that don’t require a reservation. In the bar, Travail’s bar director Nathaniel Smith has created some astounding cocktails that pull dig deep into Minnesota’s Scandinavian culture and flavor profiles for simple bumps, homemade cinnamon liquor/fiery shots, flask-aged Manhattans, and an astounding smoky cedar cocktail.

Coffee cups lined up on a table in front of two menus for Uffda
Finish off the evening with a cup of egg coffee

There is also a lovely mix of nonalcholic drink options, not limited to, but including, egg coffee. For the uninitiated, egg coffee is made by mixing the egg into the grounds, resulting in a smooth and tasty cup.

A long rectangular dessert on a white plate containing dark brown, white, and bright red layers, garnished with a sugared raspberry
A gingersnappy crust holds a refreshing berry dessert. Tomlinson’s background also includes years spent as a pastry chef.

Uffda runs through February 7. After that, Travail really is packing up and leaving Minneapolis to return to Robbinsdale for another new adventure.

A hand reaches for a cut in half burger
Stop by the bar for a burger and a bump
Beer, cocktails, and a plate of cured salmon with capers
A selection of the cocktails alongside a cured salmon plate with all the accouterments

Travail Kitchen and Amusements

4134 Hubbard Avenue North, , MN 55422 (763) 535-1131 Visit Website
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