from the streets

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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.)

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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!

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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.

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Two: They brought a box of hot coals to the table and we roasted skewers of chicken hearts, strawberries, and squid. Presentation a plus, the actual food part was sorta meh.

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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:
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Four: A deconstructed pad thai–rice noodles, tamarind, and peanuts.
Drink pairing: pear Blis+shrub.

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Five: hot and sour broth+pork belly+tomato+ginger. Rich and savory, the broth was divine.
Drink pairing: chrysanthemum+lemongrass+lychee.

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Six: a variety of Thai condiments with little baskets of sticky rice.
*chili+shallot+garlic
*salted duck egg+green mango+white radish
*banana pepper+cucumber+chili+dried anchovy
*tamarind+garlic+mint leaf
*pickles

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Seven: catfish+caramel sauce+celery+coriander root.
Drink pairing: carrot, ginger, orange.

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Eight: beef cheek+curry+peanut+nutmeg+kaffir lime.
Drink pairing: hibiscus+mangosteen+thai pepper.
This one was *rich* and by this point I was pretty darn close to being STUFFED.

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Nine: watermelon+lemongrass.
Ten: coconut+corn+egg+licorice.
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.

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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. 🙂

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Twelve: thai iced tea to go (rooibos+palm sugar+milk). A delicious juicebox of sorts to take with us. At this point I was admittedly too stuffed to fully appreciate it.

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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

3 responses to “from the streets

  1. Looks so delicious, but I can understand your comment about Thai street food, and still going back completely. I love the photo with the rose. You look so happy there. Glad to see you like that. Enjoy!

  2. Yay! I’m going to take at least partial credit for goading you into this post. Thank you. I know your job keeps you busy. Your photos are really great.

  3. Wow, great pix! Really making me miss Thailand… Thai street food is really that yummy, I remember being leery at first, but so glad we went for it. And this place’s got it right- the bamboo basket for sticky rice, plastic baggies for iced tea, the mortar and pestle for papaya salad (just like how my mother-in-law makes it)… thanks for sharing! p.s. their flooding there is still pretty horrifying, a lot of street vendors are forced out of business. Let this be a little boost of morale for them 🙂

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