Dinner Ticket

I made the reservation –or rather, bought the tickets–  a month or so ago, because I finally could make a reservation there.

Didn’t tell him where but nearly begged him to ask me

That day, advised him to eat a light lunch, as an experience involving at least 14 tasting courses would start at 5:45pm

We drove, drove then drove: through two cities and into a third

Parked, we walked by windows showcasing glimmering wine glasses lined up like a fragile, lethal army, beneath cured meat slices hanging by hooks on the ends of string. Then, past a bright blue industrial freezer door, you know, with a chrome handle as wide as the door? It opens and the bearded Helpful calls to us “guys! C’mon back here! You here for dinner?”


You’ll be sitting with these fine 6 people. That centerpiece that looks like it might have food in it, slide it away to help open up conversation with them. We went to college with one of them, anyway

Hopefully my response to “are you lawyers?” did not offend

Two bites came before our drinks did: a tasty toothpicked canape dipped in “porcini garlic dirt” and then several gems of vegetables and fish, arranged on personal granite trenchers

boubon drink

I already drank the smoke

My drink emitted smoke

Bourbon and smoke go together

The drink for one of the lawyers hissed, foamed and probably glowed in the dark, too. This was … unexpected. The server came back with a cleanup rag and more of the beverage, to top off the class

The evening moved forward, upward, outward with several courses that didn’t require a utensil, one that involved walking though kitchen to have the artistes assemble the course in a plate as we walked it through the line

Smoke (steam) came out everyone’s noses: a roomful of dragons, we were. Such trust in the guy with the bucket of pearls

My first taste, I think of fiddehead fern, raw scallop. And first and maybe final bites of morels, this year

Pork belly that ruined all bacon in the future, forever. Well, for a few days anyway. Bacon can’t be ruined, if it’s still available


This came with the drink bill

The bread in the meal came all in one course, just over halfway through, and we seasoned it with amaretto and bone marrow butters

Ever had a deconstructed beef wellington?

Ever had beef wellington and were able to comfortably move away from the table, when done? Why do that? Perfect portion, cutest little pastry. A plank of tidbits

So, part of the centerpiece was, in fact edible: I KNEW IT. Chocolate breadstick.

The macaron! It was unfair to all other macarons, to dip one end in chocolate, and help it stand up

And just like an rollicking evening spent by a campfire, with scary stories, unfamiliar and sometimes eerie views of familiar things, and much laughter: the last bite was of marshmallow.

20 courses of familiar flavors, unusual textures, exuberant specialists and thoughtful presentation.

Happy birthday to my sweetheart. I’m glad you enjoyed the meal at Travail.

Please pardon -or maybe you enjoyed? – my semi-poetic stream of descriptions. I wasn’t sure how else to describe this ride of a meal, and there was rarely a moment, much less an appropriate moment, to stop and take a picture of all the edibles that came our way, nor of the wide range of facial expressions all over the room, during our time there.


One thought on “Dinner Ticket

  1. MI says:

    Sounds like quite the experience! Happy bday Steve! I recently had a 8 course dinner that included 5 spice rubbed duck, while wood rubbed trout, and slat pork roast with crackling skin! The hand pulled noodles and lo mein fun were less of an adventure and i’d even include that the crushed cucumbers and pea vines felt familiar. The 5-spice ice cream and fortune cookie was a nice finish but I felt guilty watching the ducks the following day. And they seemed to know that I ate their cousin the day before ;(

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