On the Mount Rushmore of Minnesota cooking, without question you’d find Tim McKee. The genius behind what was once our greatest restaurant, La Belle Vie, he created Octo Fish Bar, Solera, Barrio, Smalley’s, Sea Change, and others. Now he’s popping up in the basement bar of Travail in Robbinsdale with a journey through Spain’s Basque region with Txikiteo (chee-kee-tay-o).
Tim told me this summer residency came about after a conversation with one of Travail’s founders, Mike Brown. “Mike and I were just chatting about the state of the industry, he asked me if there were any concepts I’d be interested in revisiting.” Immediately Solera came to mind.
“To me, they’re all favorites, but I really thought Solera was extra-special,” McKee said. Solera was primarily influenced by the tapas you’d find in Barcelona, in the Basque region, as well as San Sebastian. Think snacks like chroizo with padron pepper, or artichoke with saffron aioli, octopus with salsa verde, and grilled meats over charcoal called pintxos.
Txikiteo is “the basque pub crawl, you go from pub to pub and have a little snack, maybe a drink,” he said. The Travail experience will be a ticketed reservation and you’ll pay between $115 and $140 per person for 12 to 18 small bites. You select one of a bunch of different cocktail flights too where you can select your spirit from gin, agave, whiskey, and others. There is a spirit-free non-alcoholic option as well.
“I don’t feel like it has enough mass appeal to make a restaurant out of it, right now and in this climate. So this is a perfect thing. We can do this as a temporary, ‘lets play around with it,'” he said. He’ll be on site too every day (except one, he has a wedding to attend), because this is a real residency.
“I’m really looking forward it. I’ve been pretty much concentrating on consulting and product development. That’s fine but it’s not the same. It’s not as energizing,” he explained. Find tickets on Tock (there are some available for tonight’s first night).
Travail Kitchen, 4134 N. Hubbard Ave., Robbinsdale.
Txikiteo with Tim McKee Residecncy will be on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.