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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Next Restaurant - Chicago, IL - 6/22/11

Hype is a tricky thing....

Before Next even opened there was tons of hype. I signed up to their e-mail list almost a year before they opened. A year.

The five star reviews that followed (written by professional reviewers whose anonymity were compromised so they were served courses regular folks will never get to try - our cab driver had an elaborate conspiracy theory about this, I won't repeat it in case he's right) kept the hype snowballing.

The fact that the only way to secure a reservation in advance is log into their website in a magical ten second window where tickets have not been all bought up also adds to the allure. The restaurant would release something like fifty tables at once and they'd be gone in under thirty seconds. Insanity.

Is the Paris 1906 version of Next worth the hype? How could it?


We start with Hors d'Ouevres. This was paired with Vincent Carre Brut Champagne.


From here out, you get a picture of the wine first, then the food it's paired with....

An interesting French white that smelled like sherry and tasted like a super light white sherry...or maybe a glass of some miscellaneous white wine with a spike of sherry? It was interesting in an academic way.


This went with the Potage a la Tortue Claire....Before:



I'd like to make a brief digression from talking about Next to make a formal request to people who dine in restaurants, go to wine tastings, attend performing arts events, ride public transportation, or work in a small office. Go easy on the perfume.

The woman next to us had a lovely perfume, I actually really liked it - I just wish she didn't feel compelled to squirt herself 19 times before walking in the building. To put a positive spin on it, since my jacket is still infused with her scent I can bring it to Nordstrom and ask a shopgirl what it is - get the Christmas gift for the wife done early.

I digress.


Next course -

Paired with Filet de Sole Daumont


Paired with Supremes de Poussin.


Paired with Gratin de Pommes de Terre à la Dauphinoise

and Caneton Rouennais a la Presse


The palate cleanser was the Salade Irma (no wine with this) -


Served with the Bombe Ceylan:


Ending the meal with the Mignardises...a caramel, a pistachio marshmallow thing, and the most interesting one on top - beet flavored jellies.


I have little to say because a quick google search and you'll find countless reviews written by people more knowledgeable and eloquent than I'd ever crank out. The chicken was a bit of a miss (purely a "to my taste" situation rather than a poor execution).

Dinner *seemed* incredibly rushed and quick, but we were still there for close to three hours, so it was anything but. Service was outstanding in every regard - friendly with great introductions to the food and wine, a few jokes here and there, all relaxed yet professional.


We took in a few drinks at The Aviary next door as well....

An amuse bouche of watermelon infused with something or another.


The Blueberry -

You can see the spout there, you pour it in your small glass....tasty, dangerously smooth.


This is the after of the Ginger drink...

This guy got a "before" of the Ginger, so you can check that.--

The Dark and Stormy...classy! You drink this from a bottle in a paper bag, if memory serves it's dark rum and homemade ginger ale.


I also had an Old Fashioned encased in a ball of ice that was then smashed at the table...didn't get a photo, but this guy did. It was encased in a ball of ice that the serve smashes - the drink explodes, the liquid fills the glass, and the shards of "glass" are your ice. Pretty sweet.


The drinks are tasty, creative, and beautifully presented. They are also quite expensive - though really, it's not that unusual to see a $12 martini in any given Chicago restaurant - so it may be worth popping in and trying something genuinely unique if you're looking for a fancy night out.

Update 10/13/11 - Upon visiting The Aviary again last night, I've redacted my comments about poor service. Great, friendly staff all around.

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