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 – 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.

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 


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

Chicago – 8/1/15 – XOCO, Next Patio, Boeufhaus, and Aviary

Still my favorite lunch in Chicago. Only a few hours prior to this I was in my hotel throwing up from a migraine. Somehow I drug myself out of bed and credit the healing powers of guacamole for getting me through the rest of the day.

Fully dressed guacamole & XOCO salad

Next Patio
Unfortunately it did not work out for me to repeat the Tapas menu but I did manage to return on one of the few beautiful evenings Chicago has had this summer for pintxos on the patio. As I said the last time, the bocadillo is one of the best things in Chicago right now. It would be brilliant if this made it on to the Aviary or Office menu. Pretty please??

cold octopus and celery salad
porkbelly and manchego sandwich

I can’t believe that I went to Boeufhaus and didn’t have a steak. But it just seemed too hot, not to mention I had just finished the bocadillo. I’m looking forward to one the next time, however the vegetables and seafood dishes at Boeufhaus are not to be overlooked. I could have easily eaten two plates of the citrus salmon. My only tiny quibble was that the green goddess was just taken out of the fridge and was quite solid when it arrived at our table so by the time it softened enough to use as a dip, the crudite was almost gone.

Crudité – green goddess

Citrus Salmon – ginger oil, pickled honjimeji, fresno chili, crisp skin, herb salad

Salade Du Marche – early spring vegetables, house greens, root vinaigrette
 Scallops (unfortunately a special and I did not write down all of the components)
 Cauliflower gratin – leek, gruyere, bechamel, herbed bread crumb

Since the Aviary opened there have been a multitude of very cool ice preparations as one would expect from a ‘bar’ that has an ice room. But this one is my favorite of all. I don’t have an ‘after’ picture but the ice chips are dropped into the glass before the cocktail is added. I can’t wait to see what you do next Micah!

Up the Ice Ante

Loaded to the Gunwalls
Espelette you Finish

Chicago – 5/31/15 – Au Cheval and Next Tapas

Au Cheval 
This will officially be my last blog posting that includes Au Cheval. Why? Because I love it too much, visit too often, and while I can look at this burger all day every day, I’m guessing some of my readers may become a bit bored with it. Chances are it will remain my favorite burger anywhere and I will be eating them just as often though!

Next Tapas
After the outdoor preview two nights prior I was very much looking forward to this menu. While I have liked and appreciated every Next menu for different reasons, I can admit that there are only a few that I have loved enough that I immediately wanted to repeat.  This is definitely one of them.  The contrast of the more simple dishes, like the absolutely perfect tortilla, with the very complex, such as the patatas bravas, was fantastic. I never cease to be impressed!

anchoas y aceitunas
coliflor asada con chorizo y coca cardona
hongos y cebolla

mejillones enlatados
pulpo y berenjena

cerdo y romesco
cebollas a la parrilla

yema de huevo frito

aceitunas de albert adria
brandada crujiente

datiles con jerez y chocolate

pomelo quemado y pinones

un plato de jamon iberico de bellota

esparragos y sepia

patatas bravas


gambas con fresas y habas

caramelo de aceite de oliva

chocolate con arandanos y avellana


tarta de queso

Chicago – 5/29/15 – Next outdoors and Parachute

I’m so happy I managed to make it to Next on one of the very few beautiful June evenings there have been in Chicago. Such a great idea to have the separate outdoor tables and menu to go along with the Tapas menu. Exceptional as always! I could drink these G&Ts all day. And while it doesn’t look like much in photos, the bocadillo is definitely one of the best things I have had this year. If you haven’t been yet, get there before the Tapas menu ends!
Gin & Tonic 
cold octopus and celery salad 
iberian ham with tomato 
porkbelly and manchego sandwich 

I loved my first visit to Parachute and was looking forward to a return visit. The bing bread was just as good as I remembered and if not for the earlier trip to Next I would have eaten a full order on my own. Unfortunately I have no recollection of what our last two courses were and the photos are useless. I really hope this Estela plating trend stops. I just don’t get it and I have no idea why so many chefs are copying it.

c&k immature brandy, yujacha, lemon, egg white 
baked potato bing bread, bacon, scallion, sour cream butter 
house pickles, kimchi, chili chayote, watermelon radish zuke 
pork belly and mung bean pancake, kimchi, black garlic, hen egg, pineapple