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What price, Next?

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You may have heard that Grant Achatz, the accolade-laden chef at Alinea, is opening a restaurant called Next and a bar next door called Aviary on West Fulton in April.

And you may have heard that Next will serve food drawn from different eras and places for three months at a time, essentially metamorphosizing into an entirely new restaurant four times a year. And that Next won't take reservations but rather will sell tickets to diners that will vary in price based on the day and time. And that Aviary will serve boundary-pushing cocktails like none you've ever tippled before. (The bar has entire rooms dedicated to ice-making and glass-washing, people; as of Thursday, there were 19 different shapes of ice created, and counting.)

But what does this mean for your wallet, you may wonder?

Here's what Achatz and partner Nick Kokonas said yesterday:

The ticket price for the debut, eight-course Escoffier menu at Next will range from $65 to $105. (Thai street food will be the second menu, Achatz says; price range not determined but based on how they've explained their concept, I'm guessing lower).

The price of cocktails (25 on the menu) at Aviary will range from $12 to $20, and food prices will be comparable to "a nice sushi place."

And a little more about the food at Aviary, which hasn't been talked or written about much:

Achatz described the menu of 12 savory and 3 sweet items as "really progressive finger food" that will come three on a plate. "Like cantaloupe with champagne and prosciutto," Achatz said -- that is, a cube of "beautifully ripe cantaloupe" saturated and compressed with champagne, then rolled in dehydrated prosciutto powder. And: "Clam chowder" croquettes, Achatz said, his fingers making quotation marks in the air.

As of Thursday, the restaurant had logged 18,400 e-mail addresses from people who want to know when the ticket reservation system for Next opens. That, Achatz figured, represents about 3 3/4 years' worth of diners already.

(If you're already thinking, 'How in the hell will I ever get to eat at Next?!' know that in the basement of Aviary will be a tiny bar called the Office, behind a door marked "Office," with yet its own food and drink menu, and to which "we either invite you, or you book it," Kokonas says. So those chances are even slimmer...).

Aviary will be first come, first served.

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.



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This page contains a single entry by Janet Rausa Fuller published on February 18, 2011 9:57 AM.

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