It’s been impressed upon me that I’ve really let this space go, that I now have a ludicrous backlog of restaurant photos of meals going back many months. Alas, that pesky thing I have called a “job” is sorta getting in the way. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I’ve just returned from my *third* trip to Next (Childhood, at my current blog rate, expect post to follow in a few months) and it’s *that* visit that finally prompted me to post about my *second* trip nearly two months ago. And let’s not talk about the fact that I never told you about my second dinner at Alinea even though that was over a year ago. (Warning: this is a VERY photo heavy post.)
The second iteration of Next took us to Thailand and we sprang for the kitchen table (six people with a fabulous view straight into the kitchen). Ticket sales were, dare I say, INSANE so I can’t believe we even got a table. It was fun to see things unfolding both at the table and in the kitchen. We had the *best* view!
One: Like Paris 1906, we kicked off the meal with a fun selection of small bites: roasted banana, prawn cake, sweet shrimp, fermented sausage, and steamed bun. Most of us also opted for the non-alcoholic pairings and this course came with a blend of guava+mango+papaya.
Three: the main event, papaya salad made table side by the chef himself, Dave Beran. (Part of why one springs for the kitchen table.)
Drink pairing: green tea+jasmine flowers.
I confess that it was a bit nerve wracking to see the Chef casually tossing a papaya while hacking away at it with a large knife. He, however, seem unphased. Seriously. This guy is all business:
Four: A deconstructed pad thai–rice noodles, tamarind, and peanuts.
Drink pairing: pear Blis+shrub.
Six: a variety of Thai condiments with little baskets of sticky rice.
*salted duck egg+green mango+white radish
*banana pepper+cucumber+chili+dried anchovy
Drink pairing: corn+pineapple.
Why yes, there’s more. Fortunately, this dessert was light and refreshing and how can you beat the presentation? People smashing coconuts at the table? Good times.
Eleven: dragon fruit+rose.
Drink pairing: cucumber+vichy catalan.
Another refreshing course and my first experience with dragon fruit (it was something between a kiwi and a watermelon). They brought all the ladies roses. 🙂
We rounded out the night with a stop into the kitchen to see how service and plating works. By that point Grant Achatz had left the kitchen but earlier I managed to catch some glimpses of him checking things out at Next.
I’m a bit conflicted about this meal. Don’t get me wrong. It was a fabulously fun experience. The food was all around good but I couldn’t help but feel that I probably would’ve enjoyed eating real Thai street food (chowing down hunched over outside a stinky, cramped stall) at a fraction of the cost a lot more. Clearly that didn’t stop me from going back (ahem, third trip to Next tonight to check out the Childhood menu). I need to talk to Next about making a frequent diners card.
Next Restaurant: 953 West Fulton Market