Chicago – 5/13/17 – Next Hollywood 

Hollywood was absolutely the most fun Next menu.  The presentations were all fantastic and perhaps too much fun as I have never had so many missing photos.


Movie Quotes – Gone with the “Caviar”

Popcorn – meyer lemon, fennel, guanciale

The Breakfast Club – bento box, sandwich, soup, pixie stick


Cool Hand Luke – trout roe, kiwi, young coconut, turnip


The Wizard of Oz – fave bean, golden raisin, romanesco

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – octopus & scallop



Blade Runner – noodles, duck, pickled ginger

Jurassic Park – madeira, jambo, brioche

Star Wars – frog, Ethopian spices, yellow split pea


Ratatouille – byaldi

The Godfather – taro root, ricotta, olive

Horror – smoked pork neck, beet, garlic

Pulp Fiction – bulgogi big kahuna burger


Honey, I Shrunk the Kids – foie gras, chamomile, sunflower


Marie Antoinette – rhubarb, raspberry, black tea

Missing:  “Life is Like a Box of….” and Mary Poppins

Chicago – 2/18/17 – Next Ancient Rome

I admittedly was prepared to dislike this menu based on the report of a dear friend whose visit predated mine.  There have been a few Next menus that have been somewhat polarizing and this seems to be one of them.  My expectations were greatly exceeded and I found myself enjoying the theme much more than I thought I would.  With the Roman Cookery book it all made more sense.  And it did not hurt to be dining with the best man in my life, my dad, who is still up on his Latin.


vinum ex atro candidum facies (honey, cabbage, apple, grape)

herbal rusticae (melon, herbs, liquamen)

cuminatum in ostrea et conchylia (kamut pancake, oyster, pomegranate)
isicia ex sphondylis (mussels, saffron, lardo)
patinam de rosis (rose, white asparagus, rosemary)
aliter tubera elixas et asperso sale gusti de cucurbitis (beets, black truffle, chicken skin)


pisam coques (smoked mascarpone, beans, mackerel)

panem (beef fat, poppy & fennel seed)

isicia de sculls vel de cammeris amplis (shrimp, olives, walnut)

aliter porros (leek, cabbage, butternut squash)

pullus farsilis (quali, spelt, lovage)

embalm in cervinam assam (venison, chestnut, laurel)

sales conduits ad multa (oxtail, turnip, horseradish)

aliter car duos (artichoke, carob, citrus)

gaius octavos gustan de praecoquis (goat cheese, honey, fennel)

domum felix (mastic, taffy, lavender)

Chicago – 9/17/16 – mfk and Next French Laundry

mfk.
Yet another fantastic brunch at mfk.  I am always baffled as to why this place is not packed at this time of day.  Chicago friends you really need to put it in regular rotation!

ceviche, poblano guacamole, squid ink tostada

shrimp and cucumber aguachile, jicama, avocado

chioggia beets, basil, aged goat cheese, orange yogurt

roasted and chilled cauliflower, almond, red onion, xato

pqm bread service, caramelized shallot butter, radishes

seafood fideous, toasted vermicelli, piperade, saffron

albondigas pork & veal, grana padano polenta, tomato jam

Next: French Laundry
Having the Next French Laundry menu to look forward to helped me to get past the letdown of my French Laundry meal a week before being over.  Its amazing that the dishes on this menu are 20 years old.  They are delicious and still completely relevant.  The French Laundry influenced dozens of chefs since it opened and fine dining has evolved in many ways.  I love the evolution but at the same time I would eat these dishes everyday if I could.  This was absolutely lovely and one of reasons I love Next for allowing me to experience what was before my time.

cornet of atlantic salmon

carrot soup

black trumpet mushroom soup

gulf shrimp and avocado salsa

blinis with peppers and bottarga

barbecue eel with sesame and yuzu

salmon chop

black truffle custard

oysters and pearls – sabayon of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters and golden osetra caviar

tomato salad – yellow tomato sorbet, basil infused oil and brioche crouton

agnolotti – butternut squash, quince and madras curry

pompano “amandine” – orzo, pole beans and preserved meyer lemon

atlantic cod – clam chowder, celery and bacon

sweet butter poached lobster – pommes maxim, melted leeks and beet essence

five-spiced lobster – port poached figs and moulard duck foie gras

“roulade” of duck breast – creamed white corn, huckleberries and chanterelle mushrooms

rabbit “saddle” – applewood smoked bacon with pruneaux d’agen, caramelized fennel and fennel oil

“pot au feu” – beef short rib with root vegetables and sauteed bone marrow

lamb – thyme, tarragon and dried beans

chaource – red plums, chive oil and lolla rossa

roquefort – trifle with french butter pear relish

“verjus” sorbet – peach butter and mint infused oil

“coffee and donuts” – cappuccino semifreddo with cinnamon sugar donuts

mignardises

Chicago – 5/21/16 – mfk, Roister, Green River, Next and Aviary

mfk
Each time I have visited mfk I just can’t understand why it is not absolutely packed.  Somehow it has remained Chicago’s best kept secret.  Suffice it to say I love everything on this menu. Ok maybe not the sardine butter but the ceviche could just keep coming all day long.


braised oxtail & potato croquettes, charred tomato aioli

ceviche, poblano guacamole, squid ink tostada

bread, sardine butter, breakfast radishes

roasted & chilled cauliflower, xato, almond, pickled onion

poached shrimp, green papaya, cucumber, sugar snap peas

seafood fideous, toasted vermicelli, piperade, saffron

Roister
Unfortunately Roister was not yet open for lunch by this trip as I was hoping so we were forced into Plan B which was a Roister and Next doubleheader. Maybe it doesn’t quite count doing the a la carte menu vs. the Roister menu but there always has to be something to strive for the next time (no pun intended). We were not able to order the larger dishes that I wanted the most (actually willing and able but would regret it later on) but I still think that we did pretty well. As Roister seemed to be so long in the making there was a part of me that feared it would fall short of expectations. But of course I should know better. It was exceedingly difficult to not finish absolutely everything and think about anything other than when I could get back here again.

Yukon fries – soy dusted, bonito flakes, rice vinegar, tofu mayo

Baja hiramasa – black sesame, raspberry, tarragon
Grilled asparagus salad – macadamia nut dressing, fennel, rice

Gulf shrimp toast – red crab butter

Carolina gold rice – hoisin glazed carrots, mushrooms, thai basil

Foie gras – black walnuts, pretzel, marshmallow

Strawberries & milk – jam, gummies, shortbread crumb

Green River

We had to exit the West Loop for a bit of the evening to enjoy some fantastic cocktails from the lovely Julia Momose.


Next South America (Peru)
There is not too much I can say about each visit to Next that I haven’t already said before. But this was easily my second favorite of all of the Next menus and if I lived in Chicago I would certainly be back for the other country iterations. This was a completely seamless transition to Chef Tomaska and I can’t wait to see what he does with the next menu.

Raspadilla – chicha morada, cassia, leche

Pisco sour

Ceviche
banana & passionfruit
corn & chocolate
aji
lime & orange



Tiradito
mackerel, kombu, peanut, cactus fruit

Picanteria
casabe, canchita, solterito de queso
empanada, rocoto relleno, anticucho






Alpaca Wool
escabeche de camaron


Sudado
paiche, gooseberry, coconut, pork


Pachamanca
gallina, humita, pina, salsa criolla


Dulces
guava & picarones
chocolate, rhubarb, dulce de leche

Aviary
Because one is never too full for a black truffle explosion.

Chicago – 2/12/16 – Au Cheval, Cold Storage, CAA, Aviary, and Next Alps

Au Cheval
Where else to start a whirlwind one day tour of some of my favorite places in Chicago than at Au Cheval?   I know I have had burger blinders on for years and have largely ignored the rest of the menu venturing only as far as the raw vegetable salad.  A huge thank you to our server who told us that the beef cheek marmalade could be ordered as a side dish.  How I have lived without this I don’t know.  Next time I may thrown caution to the wind and add it to my burger.

pickles
beef cheek marmalade and toast
 ​cheeseburger with egg and bacon


Cold Storage

Some travel days call for a double lunch, and not only a double lunch but going big with the large seafood tower.  After visiting Swift & Sons a few weeks prior I was looking forward to checking out its more casual inner restaurant.  Fantastic hospitality.  How we ate this all I don’t know.


 ​

Chicago Athletic Association 
For years before the Chicago Athletic Association opened as a hotel, I looked at the amazing facade from across Michigan Avenue on many of the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s walking tours.  I just love everything they have done to maintain the original details and character and can’t help but walk through whenever I pass it.  Unfortunately the cocktails in the grand lobby were far from fantastic, but ambience almost made up for it.

Sidecar and Negroni 

Aviary

As anybody who reads this blog likely knows, Aviary is my favorite place in Chicago.  Not only have I met many people here who have become incredible friends, but I am always blown away by something new on the menu.  I am always nervous bringing somebody new here, afraid that they won’t like it as much as I do or I have talked it up too much.  But when the person gets it and is as excited about the experience as I always am, these are the best visits of all.  Many, many pictures missing somehow.

Loaded to the Gunwalls

Next Alps
This was an absolutely frigid day which made the Next Alps menu the perfect dinner.  A very fun menu separated into six sections – the French farmhouse, the German beer hall, the warming yurt, the top of the Swiss mountain, intro to Italy and Austrian sweets.  While there wasn’t necessarily one stand out dish for me as there has been on previous menus, anytime you can have raclette is special and this is definitely a menu that I would happily repeat.


   stone soup
 ​gratin of Beaufort and trumpet crozets

game pie
 tourton of salsify and apple

 gateau de St. Genix avec du beurre de chevre
 pork belly schnitzel with cherry and black walnut
 ​pretzel, sausages and pickles


 Raclette with potatoes, fermented mustard greens, chestnuts, and black truffles

 Augustiner Brau Edelstoff lager
 chocolate with black truffle and milk crisp
 preserved summer berries with cognac and honey
 smoked arctic char with cauliflower and juniper

 
goulash of beef and Barolo with sour cornbread

 bitter green salad with pomegranate and fennel ice

Salzburger nockerl
 pie spiced ice cream
 apple strudel with clove and cinnamon

And as if this wasn’t enough in one day, missing from the photos are cocktails at Grace as well as post dinner in the Office.

Chicago – 10/4/15 – Next Terroir

I tend to have the highest expectations for the final menu of the year, likely as they always have the highest price tag.  And while I try hard not to compare menus, this was overall one of my favorites. I don’t think that there was a stand out dish, but I genuinely really enjoyed every course which has not been the case on every menu. Unfortunately I didn’t get photos of all of the wine but I assume much has changed by now (and there was a lot of it!).  I’m always somewhat sad when a year ends after having these meals to look forward to for 10 months but on to 2016.
Char roe with rye and creme fraiche
brussels sprouts with beer and flax seed
caramelized onion with chicken skin and heart
prosciutto with honey and lemon
crostini with nasturtium and parmesan




 Sturgeon with scallions and iterations of peanut
 Consommé of barley with arugula and montasio
 Squab  with beets and fennel
 Pear with blue cheese and fresh moss
 Potato chips, caviar, popcorn


 Lion’s mane, bison, truffled soil
 Hamachi, ginger, fermented gooseberry
 Snail, artichoke, eucalyptus aroma
 Lamb, olive, valley wind
 Molasses cake, cottage cheese, bay
 Tea cookie, flan, caramelized white chocolate