Next’s current Hollywood theme is the first “something-for-everyone menu the Alinea Group has ever assembled,” Phil Vettel writes. Encompassing 18 film references within 11 courses, the “attention to detail is impressive throughout.” It starts with a homage to “Gone With the Wind”—a “damn good” cheddar biscuit topped with osetra caviar draped with a strip of Champagne gelee. “Breakfast Club” fans will appreciate the BLT sandwich “in which the bread is aerated pecorino cheese.” It’s served alongside a Thermos that holds chilled watermelon gazpacho.
Other delights include Han Solo’s blaster topped with frog-leg tempura and a “Pulp Fiction” burger of A5 Wagyu. For dessert, there’s a “Mary Poppins” melon cube filled with menthol pate de fruit, and a seasoned truffle with white chocolate and parsnip ganache that’s a nod to “The Goonies.” Just like with most iterations of Next, Vettel gives the menu four stars. [Tribune]
There’s more to Kitsune than just “cute eye candy.” Lisa Shames praises the cooking at the “adorable” restaurant from Iliana Regan that offers “homestyle Japanese with a focus on Midwestern ingredients.” Seared scallops dusted with tiny purple flowers and puffed rice are “wonderfully tender” and look like something out of “The Little Mermaid,” while the vegan ramen special wows with a “deeply flavored broth, variety of barely cooked mushrooms and noodles made from nettles.” But for the best “bang-for-your-buck,” the okonomiyaki—or Japanese-style pizza—is “addictive in a way few egg-based dishes are.” [CS]
Gemini has “undergone a significant internal redesign” but the menu “remains faithfully rooted in the expected and the conventional.” Mike Sula thinks that “for the most part these standards are reliably well executed.” The half roasted chicken is “crisp, juicy, and positively birdlike in flavor;” cheese potato pave is an “exemplar of technique and a comforting indulgence;” and sweet peas and cream are “emerald jewels of spring.” There are an equal number of duds, though, as chile, fennel seed, and lemon oil “do no favors for bland sauteed broccoli” and bready crab cake “gets a weak assist from julienned green apple and a blob of remoulade.” Desserts are the “most thrilling feature” and include smooth house-made ice creams and sorbets “that at least strive for distinction.” [Reader]