One thing to check off the bucket list: finally making it to Next


Bear with me, or just scroll really fast, as I write my love letter to Next Restaurant. Back in 2008/2009 after first becoming aware of Ryan’s lord and savior Thomas Keller, I learned of Keller’s protégé, Grant Achatz and HIS restaurant that was quickly heating up the Chicago restaurant scene, Alinea. Dinner there would be a very pricy 3-hour affair but I was desperate to go and made it my birthday present to myself. Alinea was amazing! So 2 years later when Grant announced his newest restaurant concept, I was once again lusting after the chance to check it out for myself. But it would prove to be A LOT harder this time around. Instead of calling exactly 2 months in advance and taking whatever time slot I wanted, I needed to pre-buy a “ticket” because Grant had decided to revolutionize the restaurant scene. To get a ticket you would pick the day and time (or what was left by the time you went to the site) that you wanted to go and pre-pay for your meal (and drink options). Since the waiters and waitresses are salaried at Next, tip didn’t matter (or was factored into the price of the per person dinner). The big problem was knowing when more tickets would get released as it turned out I was not the only person lusting after a dinner at Next. There seemed to be (at least to me) no rhyme or reason as to when these tickets were released. The restaurant would announce on their facebook account that they had more tickets available and you would rush to their website and hope your internet connection was fast enough. Mine never seemed to be. Not during Grant’s Childhood food tribute, El Bulli, Kyoto, or any of the other themes that have come and gone since 2011. For there was one other difference to this restaurant, every quarter the entire restaurant would turn over. Not just a change in a dish here or there, but the entire menu, the theme, and the concept.

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