Next is Chef Grant Achatz’ “next” restaurant. Achatz is the creator of Alinea, regarded by many as America’s greatest restaurant, and Chicago’s only 3-star Michelin restaurant.
I approached Next with some trepidation because I’m not a fan of Alinea. I found the atmosphere and service there stiff, and grew tired of the dictatorial way we were instructed to consume each course.
But Next is nothing like that. Service is professional but relaxed, and the servers are happy, informative and passionate about the food they’re serving.
I also like their ticketing system. It was refreshing to have no transaction at the end of the meal. The food, wine pairing and tip are all included, and are fairly priced for the experience you receive.
The unique thing about Next is that the restaurant evolves into something completely new and different every four months. New food, new wine, new decor. Since you’re unlikely to go twice during any given incarnation, you just need to put your trust in the culinary team and expect something special.
That’s certainly what we’ve received on both visits. A month ago Dani and I enjoyed the Modern Chinese menu.
This time Linda accompanied us to enjoy Next: Trio, which was an even more spectacular menu than Modern Chinese. This homage to Chef’s first restaurant ten years ago pulls out some vintage tricks, and reminds us of how cutting edge that restaurant was.
21 courses, many of them home runs. Very lavish ingredients, beginning with a generous serving of Osetra, and two courses using foie gras in completely different ways.
My favorite course was a surprise, the smoked figs was that perfect union of unexpected flavors that turns the whole into much more than the individual parts.
A few of Alinea’s serving tricks were used for some of the courses, but they’re more playful and less pretentious than at Alinea.
As always a convivial staff enthusiastically sharing information and their love of what they’re doing. A great dining experience.