- Here's a gift for you
- Surprise: it's PB&J, but unlike any you've had before
- Carrots, onion and parsley?
- Actually, it's chicken "noodle" soup
- Good enough to tape to the fridge
- The beginning of something really tasty
- Mmm gooey mac cheese
- It's like a walk in the woods
- Masters of the Universe!
- What did your mom pack in your lunchbox?
- A Big Mac this is definitely not
- Would you like to lick the "foie"sting?
- Sitting around a campfire ...
- ... roasting marshmallows
- The menu presentation
Next restaurant's latest menu officially began Saturday night. Eater had chatted with chefs Grant Achatz and Dave Beran earlier in the week, but it wasn't until we got an invitation to a sneak peek of the menu did the true essence of the meal really come into focus.
Going into the planning, the chefs wanted to impart an adult interpretation of what childhood meant to them growing up in Michigan (and also partly in Upstate New York in Beran's case) in the 1970s and '80s and to evoke memories and spark conversation. Between scents, sounds and more, they quickly achieve their goal. The meal begins with everyone at the table receiving a gift—and who doesn't like to open a present? This is the start of multiple courses of fun, laughter and reminiscing, while themes from shows like the A-Team and movies like Star Wars sneak into the evening's playlist.
You find yourself telling stories with your tablemates as you taste the chicken "noodle" soup, a hearty oversized bowl of warm soup that in actuality has no noodles, but has plenty of memory built in. As you get to the bottom of the bowl, you want to pick up the large dish and slurp, but remember you're not at your childhood kitchen table. But then you do it anyway.
This is what the Next team hopes happens. They want a sense of playfulness to come out. In fact, Achatz tweeted on Sunday that people were dressing up for the dinner: one guy wore a Superman T-shirt beneath his blazer while a woman donned a Girl Scouts sash. Why wouldn't you want to fully enjoy a meal based on childhood if you can't remember what it was like to be a kid?
You're eating mac & cheese and a burger, but in a form like you've never had before. You take an autumn "walk in the woods" and enjoy the scents of burning leaves underneath a see-through fiberglass plate holding a surprise of polenta and maitake. You dive into your lunchbox, complete with an apple "fruit roll," beef jerky, truffle "oreo," a "funjun" and a thermos filled with a spiked mixed berry juice. They even trick you into liking Brussels sprouts.
You get to lick "foie"sting off a beater while devouring cider donuts with cinnamon. And then you get to amaze at the campfire being constructed before your eyes in the center of your table before finishing everything off with incredibly decadent hot chocolate.
Earlier in the day on Saturday, Achatz posted a video introducing the new concept, featuring both of his sons creating their versions of their dad's dishes, set to playful music. In the three minutes it takes to showcase the entire menu, you get a really strong idea of what will go on at Next for the coming three months. Won't you have a look?
NOTE: Next's video is temporarily disabled due to copyright issues with the music. They hope to have it back up soon.