menu. Despite the odds, describing each course and exposing every surprise would be a great disservice to anyone potentially going. That said, I’ll be careful how I proceed.Seated for dinner, with the Star Wars theme playing in the background, I didn’t know what to expect other than an emotional, evocative eating experience. Having once dined at his famed, three-Michelin-starred Alinea, I knew I’d be in for impeccable service, several surprises, and perfectly plated food.The meal began with an amuse – served in a box covered in wrapping paper. What better way to start things off than tearing up a present? Inside: a take on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
From there, Achatz found a way to redo all our childhood food favorites: hamburgers, macaroni and cheese, and bubblegum just name a few.
A lickable dish served on the stick of an electric mixer was, for me, the standout presentation, with the course served in an old-school plastic lunchbox – complete with “a note from mom” and a take on an Oreo cookie, among other things.
As an off-the-menu course, the kitchen brought each of us five brussels sprouts…every kid’s favorite, right? Each were hollowed out and filled with something different: bacon riallette, black truffle pudding, and béarnaise-just name a few.
As we were enjoying our chicken noodle soup course (slurping encouraged), it dawned on me that everyone in the dining room was dressed nicely and appeared affluent. How ironic that we were all acting like total children for the evening?
Two of the other diners I was with enjoyed pairings with their meals – one alcoholic, one not. Non-alcoholic pairings included beverages like house-made apple cider, lemonade, and root beer. The table was almost moved to tears at one point when we were all drinking juice out of Flash Gordon thermoses.
Service at NExt is not as refined or reserved as at Alinea, but considering the theme of the menu, it was nice to interact and have a little fun, especially with our servers. Regardless, the front-of-house team is still among the best in the industry.
Twelve courses and three-and-a-half hours later; the meal capped with a mug of hot chocolate and we were stuffed. I found the entire evening equal parts entertaining, humorous, emotional, delicious, and well worth the hype and cost. After all, can you really put a price on feeling like you’re 8 years old again?
Well done, Achatz. Well done.