NEXT: A Theatrical Exhibition of Flavors
NEXT is the quirky, eccentric sibling in the Alinea Group family of restaurants. At the helm of this establishment, we have Grant Achatz, an American chef known for his genius molecular gastronomy. His background includes time at Thomas Keller's The French Laundry. Grant's partner, Nick Kokonas is the proprietor behind "Tock", a ticketing and reservation system used by some of the best restaurants in the world, including Eleven Madison Park. Together, they've achieved an insane number of 4-star reviews from the Chicago Tribune and even a James Beard Award (2012).
Every four months, the menu transforms completely. During our visit, the theme was... Hollywood! Each dish was dedicated to an iconic movie. The titles were diverse, ranging from The Breakfast Club to Ratatouille.
One of my favorite dishes was Blade Runner, especially since I had just watched the movie. But, it was a reference to that opening scene where Harrison Ford was eating Japanese noodles in that dark, rainy dystopia. After one bite, he's arrested, unable to finish his noodles. At NEXT, they recreated those noodles with duck and pickled ginger. But, you only get one bite just like Rick Deckard.
During our visit, Steph and I thought it was a "smart" idea to have the three cocktail tasting menu at The Aviary next door... on an empty stomach. Needless to say, we were wasted by the time we got to NEXT. For that reason, I'm sorry but I have no good explanations or commentary for the food at Aviary. All I can say is that the food was great and the theme was a lot of fun.
Hope I can go back soon! Eating here was a really fun experience.
Gone with the Caviar. On one of the film strips say, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a...". Then, the little snack says, "Damn" to complete the famous quote from Gone with the Wind.
Popcorn, Meyer Lemon, Fennel, Guanciale
The Breakfast Club: Bento Box, Sandwich, Soup
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Octopus and Scallop
Blade Runner: Noodles, Duck, Pickled Ginger
Jurassic Park: Madeira, Jamon, Pumpernickel
Honey, I Shrunk The Kids: Foie Gras, Chamomile, Sunflower
The Wizard of Oz: Fava Bean, Golden Raisin, Romanesco
Star Wars: Frog, Ethiopian Spices, Yellow Split Pea
Pulp Fiction: Bulgogi Big Kahuna Burger
Horror: Smoked Pork Neck, Beet, Garlic
The Godfather: Taro Root, Ricotta, Olive
"Life is like a box of...": Truffle Shuffle, Coffee and Cigarettes, Some Like It Hot, Nutty Professor
Marie Antoinette: Rhubarb, Raspberry, Black Tea
Mary Poppins: Honeydew, Menthol, Fernet