When Mike Brown opened Travail Kitchen & Amusements (along with fellow chefs and co-owners James Winberg and Bob Gerken) in 2011, he was only 25. That year, in addition to widespread local acclaim, Travail was also named one of Bon Appétit's Best New Restaurants in America. The restaurant was known for many things: the ambitious food, primarily, but also the innovative approach to service (no one was hired as a server, instead the chefs themselves took orders and brought the food to the table), unbelievable pricing (a 10-course tasting menu for two, for $60), and bold choice of suburban location in Robbinsdale, MN, a 15-minute drive from Minneapolis (to keep those prices down).
Earlier this year, Brown and company temporarily shuttered Travail—flying in the face of convention, given the restaurant's rampant following and always packed tables—to expand. Just a little more than a month after the shutter, they opened Pig Ate My Pizza in the old Travail space (which they mostly remodeled themselves), serving housemade pizza and charcuterie, but Travail-style. That means brioche or cracker crust, liquid nitrogen desserts, and, of course, a pizza tasting menu. They will re-open Travail in the fall, along with yet another restaurant/bar concept called The Rookery, a cocktail/small plates spot that will share the same space as Travail's second incarnation.