'Fine Dining, 3rd Grade Style' by Chef Kyleigh Beach
Last weekend my husband and I were lucky enough to score two tickets to Next for our anniversary. Next is Grant Achatz’s newest restaurant which changes its concept and menu every quarter and features a revolutionary and frustrating ticketing system rather than taking traditional reservations. The current concept is Childhood, or as the intro on our menu put it, Michigan 1985. The menu, by the way, was just a folded piece of paper describing the inspiration for the Childhood concept so we never knew what was coming. The incredibly well-versed and unaffected waitstaff explained each dish to us as it came out.
The highlight of the evening began when two servers holding old school lunchboxes approached our table. We opened them up and pulled out a thermos full of spiked grape juice, little Ziploc bags and containers full of familiar-looking goodies, a paper towel napkin, and a plastic spoon. The finishing touch was a handwritten note from Mom. In the Ziploc bags we found a truffled Oreo, Waygu beef jerky, a PopChip-type snack that was inspired by Funyuns, vanilla parsnip pudding, and a fruit roll up. The actual food, although great, wasn’t what made this course so awesome. It was the presentation and whimsy and the warm, nostalgic memories it brought back of notes from my mom in my own lunchbox. Every time a procession of servers carrying lunch boxes came through the dining room, diners stopped eating, stared for a moment, and started laughing.
It was so fun to spend an evening in one of the most exciting new restaurants in the country eating childhood favorites like chicken noodle soup and licking cake beaters full of “foie-sting” (yep, exactly what it sounds like). The service was outstanding and as unpretentious as it could possibly be. We’re already excited to go back and experience the ‘Next’ incarnation.