After eating a minispoonful of creamy truffled custard and brandade at Next, Chicago Reader food critic Mike Sula began hallucinating. "For just a minute I was a gouty, monocled Gallic bloater with a wine-stained cravat, greedily slurping it up and impatiently awaiting my turtle soup." Clearly, he liked what he was having.
Sula, like Julia Kramer, thoroughly enjoyed his experience at Grant Achatz's hot spot. He did question whether, having seen so much written about Next, he would still be surprised by the eight-course meal. He was. "Rather than a rote course-by-course analysis of each plating, it's more important to recognize the current menu at Next as both a museum piece and an innovation, dictated with relaxed informality by servers drilled in the historical context and technique of every aspect of the experience.
Also like Kramer, he didn't love the chicken course. But, once Sula got to the Carré d'agneau, the infamous lamb course that not everyone gets to enjoy, he knew he was in love. "This tower of meat is the course that broke me, forcing me to admit that if I was going to make it through the night I'd need to stop consuming every last morsel."
And in the end, literally when the Sauternes-style sorbet was served, Sula realized the meal was nearing completion. "I was sad for an experience I'll never have again." At least he got to have it.
· Next Restaurant: Exquisite and Ephemeral [Chicago Reader]
Carre d'agneau at Next Restaurant [Photo: SRC]