I kind of don’t know where to begin with this post.
If you are really into food, feel free to read on, and if you don’t so much care just scroll down to the pictures to see some pretty amazing stuff.
So y’all all know by now that I favor the whimsical and nostalgic, I mean I had a Willy Wonka themed wedding after all.
And if you have been around for awhile you also may have read about my admiration for a one Chef Achatz. He is the chef that inspired me to sous vide our turkey for Thanksgiving last year. Having just finished his book, Life On The Line (read it) there is a lot I could say about him. BUT in the interest of heading down the get along road, his restaurant in Chicago Alinea is rated the best restaurant in the USofA and 7th in the world. He trained classically under Chef Keller at The French Laundry for years, and did a stage at El Bulli (the long reigning #1 Best Restaurant in the world), before starting Alinea in Chicago. His food while very much his own, is somewhere between TFL’s high end contemporary French-American, and El Bulli’s way out there pioneering “molecular gastronomy”- for lack of a better word.
I feel kind of ridiculous to even be adding to this dialogue because I know so little about FOOD and these people are all like the ultimates.
Chef Achatz latest venture is Next. A restaurant that completely reinvents itself every 3 months to represent a different place and time. The first iteration was Paris 1906- for which Chef’s Achatz and Beran studied the cookbooks of Auguste Esoffier and Cesar Ritz at the opening of the Paris Ritz in 1906, the next was Thai street food, and now it is Childhood.
Aka my dream. And after major persistence I got tickets to dinner for Saturday night when we were in Chicago for Thanksgiving. If you can’t tell I am having trouble describing what this all is, so I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.
The peanut butter and jelly amuse.
Chicken Noodle Soup- The noodle was actually made out of chicken.
Fish and Chips.
Mac n’ Cheese being presented
The garnishes around the edge are all things you might mix in with your mac. Tomato seeds, shredded manchego, noodles soaked in the oil from the seed that normally gives cheddar cheese its flavor and color.
Served on a hollowed out log stuffed with fragrant leaves and set on fire so that the smokey smell of leaves burning in the Fall surrounds you. So cool.
Deconstructed happy meal hamburger
Inside was a thermos with a sort of grape wine juice, oreo, chocolate banana pudding, jerkey, fruit roll up, and funion.
Foie-Sting. Foie Gras frosting and donut holes
S’mores. The “coals” are sweet potato infused with a blue corn syrup and sprinkled with a flammible vanilla liquor powder or something. I don’t know, it was incredible.
All the while during the meal playing the dining room were the musical scores from the best childrens movies (think Up and Jurassic Park). The service was completely unstuffy and and fun, yet perfectly executed. My favorite thing about both Alinea and Next beyond the delicious and mind blowing food, is that in my experience, it is devoid of snobbery. These are unquestionably two of the best restaurants in the world and no matter how old you are or how you look they treat you like you deserve to be there.
Even though you can tell that they take what they do very seriously, there is nothing overly serious about the experience. It is fun and joyful and delicious.
The only thing I am upset about is that my husband wouldn’t let me dress up in costume for the experience. Buzzkill. Although. Now that I think of it…my, um, more mature? post-pregnancy figure might have looked insane dressed as a child in the midst of Chicago winter.
So on second thought, thanks for looking out Pete!