Excuse the bad (The Artist Formerly Known As) Prince reference. It couldn’t be helped. I was recently fortunate enough to snag a seat at Next, Grant Achatz’s much anticipated, much hyped new restaurant. Much has been written and said about this place. I won’t repeat it all here. Suffice to say, the concept is this–the restaurant revolves around a single destination/theme/time–specifically Paris, 1906, Escoffier at the Ritz. The recipes are inspired by the recipes of Auguste Escoffier, who along with Cesar Ritz, opened the Hôtel Ritz Paris. You buy a “ticket” in advance and this covers everything–the meal, drinks, tax, tip. The menu/destination is for a limited time only (about three months), after which, it will switch up to some other time and place. (It’s rumored that Thai street food is next.) The menu was nine courses, starting with a plate featuring five small plates and ending with a plate of plate of five mignardises.
Perhaps it’s best to let the pictures tell the story, but suffice to say, overall, a stellar meal.
Hors d’Oeuvres: truffled egg custard with salted cod served in an egg shell; quail egg with anchovy; pork rillette; foie gras torchon in brioche; rabbit boudin blanc; and mushroom duxcelle stuffed leek. Almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
The icing on the cake was a chance sighting of the man himself, Grant Achatz. Sure I’d seen him before. Hell, he’d made the dessert for us at my first trip to Alinea, but still exciting to see him again nonetheless. You feel like you’re in the presence of someone really, really great.
Not pictured anywhere above were the mixed drink (non-alcoholic) pairings we got. I would highly recommend that option as I think they were more interesting and unique than the wine pairings offered.
Many, many, many thanks to my friend Peter for getting us a table. I hope to dine here again some day, eating equally amazing food and in equally awesome company. This dinner came in the middle of a very crazy, very busy work week and it felt like such an amazing gift. It’s days like this that I feel so amazingly lucky and blessed to live in a city like Chicago. And one of these days, I’ll have to tell you about my second trip to Alinea.
Next Restaurant: 953 West Fulton Market