I am no longer living in Chicago, but it has been difficult to ignore the city, especially when innovative, creative restaurants keep opening up there. Grant Achatz, the chef that opened Alinea, one of the top molecular gastronomy-driven restaurants in the country and the world, is taking on a new venture. Because apparently, being named one of the country’s top chefs, being a pioneer in a new style of cooking and beating tongue cancer didn’t keep him busy enough.
If you didn’t catch it in the video, Achatz’s new restaurant is going to be more like a dining experience. The restaurant will be called Next, and will sell tickets to four seasonal menus a year. Each menu will represent an important moment in culinary history or the future. France 1949. Japan 2410.
And the bonus goal of the restaurant? To serve four star meals at three star prices, so all multi-course meals (5-6 courses) will run between $40-$75 USD all inclusive of food, drinks and service. As someone who has dined at Alinea, where it is $175 a person for a 24 course, four hour degustation, I can attest–this is a deal to be experiencing Achatz’s genius.Much like tickets to the theater, the time of day and day of the week you wish you visit the restaurant will determine the price, the more expensive meals being on weekend evenings, but you can also buy a season ticket, which includes a dinner at one of each of the four yearly menus.
I love how this unique concept of featuring four different spots in time over each year essentially builds in a way for the restaurant to keep reinventing itself and what it is known for. Traditionally, seasonally-focused or regularly changing menus have been the main way for fine dining restaurants to reinvent themselves throughout the year and give diners a reason to come back. How cool would it be to go there for a birthday dinner, and have the chef make you food from a spot in the world the year you were born? Um, SUPER.Especially if it involved bacon.
I’m curious if this restaurant will be utilizing molecular gastronomy techniques to reimagine classic dishes from these different time periods (I assume so), and personally, I’m super stoked to see the first year’s set of menus.
Opening near Next restaurant will be Achatz’s first bar, Aviary. This will be a bar with no bartenders, no bar, just a kitchen where chefs craft creative and classic cocktails and pair delicious nibbles with it. No tickets needed to visit Aviary, just roll up, order a flight of drinks and enjoy.
Achatz has been making heads turn in Chicago since he walked into the doors of Trio and hasn’t stopped since. It is no surprise that this chef who focuses on a cuisine that is constantly reinventing itself and it’s own cooking methods is opening yet another incredibly creative and unique restaurant in the Windy City. I don’t miss Chicago’s bitter winters, but I am starting to find reasons already to return for it’s food scene.
But probably in the summer.