“Next” is a new restaurant in Chicago that was started by the same chef as Alinea, which is considered the top restaurant in the country. Every three months, Next closes shop for a few weeks to come up with a new concept more fantastic than the last. This go around, we were so excited to hear their new theme: “Childhood”. After three months of trying to get tickets we got in the last week before they were to revamp for their next theme. We sat down to dinner and were immediately given fresh apple juice and a little gift box. Micheal Jackson’s, “Beat it” played in the background. We were told to open the box and eat the contents in one bite and expect something explosive. The pastry contained a warm liquified version of a pb&j.
The next dish we received was a whimsical take on fish’n'chips. I gave the fish to Dustin, but the rest of the course was still very good. Throughout the night I tried to think back to my childhood. My likes and dislikes and my crazy imagination, which I’m pleased still exists as an adult. When I got home, I started digging through some of my childhood drawings. I found this one, which I like for how bright, emotional and most importantly, how unrestrained it is. It was great to see Next linking drawing with childhood, and I’m pleased that I still draw as an adult.
Macaroni was one of my favorite foods growing up. This may sound gross, but I used to dip my macaroni in ketchup. This dish had a tiny bit of truffle mousse off to the side and that just kicked my ketchup’s butt.
This dish was designed to mimic an autumn walk through a Michigan forest. It was served on a hollow log filled with leaves and hot stones to create a woodsy aroma. As we bit into the greens, it sounded like leaves crackling as we walked over them and tasted very fresh and earthy.
As adults, we tend to make statements about who we are through our outer appearance or material possessions. Long before that, we made a statement with our lunch box. If you were a boy, it was most likely Star Wars, Transformers, or He-Man. For the girls it was most likely Jem, Strawberry shortcake or those creepy babies that were born in a cabbage. There is so much sentimental value to all of our belonging as a child. A while back while cleaning/snooping I found an old box of knickknacks from Dustin’s childhood. It held a tiny transformer that turned into a boat, a rubber ball, a bookmark and a couple more obscure objects. Of course, adorable.
Inside the lunch box was a nutella snack pack, an apple-brandy fruit rollup, truffled oreo, homemade funyuns and a note from mom.
Remember licking the beaters as a kid? Dustin got ‘Foie’sting (duck liver!) and donuts, while I got a sweet buttercream frosting. Dustin said his was awesome, but I can’t imagine duck liver being better than my buttercream.
The finale was sweet potato pie. We toasted marshmallows at the campfire, originally thought to be just for show, but revealed to be the final touch to our meal; the sweet potatoes. Everything was delicious and more than that, extremely creative. We didn’t want to leave the warm friendly setting of the restaurant for the blizzard like conditions outside, but I’m sure we will be back. I’m excited to see what other fantastic things they will come up with…next.
See ya’ later alligator.