Next was one of those zany foodie destination you just have to visit in Chicago. It was also one of the toughest reservations to get in the country. Luckily I managed to score one…the things I do for this food blog.
Next was the other restaurant Grant Achatz opened in Chicago. Having already had a memorable meal at his other restaurant, the Three Michelin Star Alinea, only days before, we had high hopes for this visit.
Like Alinea, Next was also notorious for its difficulty to secure a reservation, it even made it to Eater.com’s list of Toughest Reservations in the World. Due to my many years of experience with video games, I quickly ninja bought tickets as soon as it was available on their website.
Unlike Alinea, Next generally features a more casual tasting menu. Its menu completely changes every few months and it generally follows a theme. Previous themes include Thailand, Kaiseki, Modern Chinese, and Chicago Steakhouse. On the day of my visit, the theme was Tapas, inspired by the chefs’ visit to Spain.
Anchoas y Aceitunas.
Hongos y Cebolla.
Coliflor Asada Con Chorizo y Coca Cardona.
Pulpo y Berenjena.
Cerdo y Romesco.
Cebollas a la Parrilla.
Yema de Huevo Frito.
Aceitunas de Albert Adria.
Pomelo Quemado y Pinones.
Datiles Con Jerez y Chocolate.
Esparragos y Sepia.
Un Plato de Jamon Iberico de Bellota.
Gambas Con Fresas y Habas, Caramelo de Aceite de Oliva.
Caramelo de Aceite de Oliva.
Gambas Con Fresas y Habas.
Chocolate Con Arandanos y Avellana.
Tarta de Queso.
I’ve had tasting menus after tasting menus in the last few days during this US trip, and Next leaned more on the casual side. Its techniques and ingredients were humble and simpler. I do find there were a few forgettable dishes and I question its place on the menu. Maybe I was too ambitious and expecting something out of El Bulli?
But for the dishes that worked, it flavors just shined and dishes such as the Mejillones Enlatados and the Cerdo y Romesco were just eye openers. Paired with the cheery and casual service, this was another foodie night to remember.