Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Next Restaurants - Tapas

Albeit late, Next Tapas is one of my favorite menu at Next Restaurant. This was a summer menu. But due to school, I wasn't able to post these in time. But below are the pics. 

Cocas - Flatbread
(top) Cocas de Anchoas y Aceitunas - anchovies, red pepper and Olives
(mid) Cocas de Guisantes y Chorizo - Peas & Sausage
(bot) Cocas de Hongos y cebolla - Mushrooms & White beans

We started off the night with 3 flatbread. They are all fairly good. However, the anchovy definitely is the clear winner for me as it reminds me of the Mediterranean the most. The fish and the olives really give the bread a brightness that starts you off the night right

Mejillones enlatados - Canned Mussels Pulpo Y Berenjena - Octopus and Eggplant puree

One of the coolest dish of the night. The octopus and is perfectly cooked and paired well with eggplant foam. The canned mussels is definitely the star as it brings in a touch of citrus along with the mussel flavor. 

Cebollas a la parrilla - Grilled spanish onion

Cerdo y Romesco - Pork Belly and Romesco

The taste of this dish supersede its look. The pork belly is extremely tender, buttery and goes really well with charred bread. I actually love the Romesco sauce as it carries a creamy but nutty flavor with it.

Yema de huevo frito - Fried Egg Yolk, anchovies, pepper

One of my other favorite of the night. The fried egg yolk is airy, light which provides a nice crispy to pair with the fresh anchovy and pepper. Reminds a little bit of the flatbread but I like the crunch of the fried egg yolk more.

Aceitunas de albert adria - Sphered Olives

How can it be a Tapas without some spheres! Here we have an olives sphere. Oh yeah, it sure did taste like olive and I like the popping sensation from the spheres.

Brandada crujiente - salty cod puree with cod crisp

The cod chip takes fish and chip to a whole new level. The chip is actually skin fried and has a nice cod flavor. The cod puree is the star. It's briny, salty but not too rich. 

datiles con jerez y chocolate - Sherry & Chocolate "dates"

pomelo quemado y pinones - burned grapefruit and pineput

We had two sweets back to back so our taste buds won't get stagnant. The chocolate meringue definitely throw my taste buds off. The coco nip that goes with it definitely makes me want a bit more (but I'm a sucker for coco nip). The second sweet is the grapefruit fruit jelly which goes well with the meringue.

Esparragos y sepia - Asparagus and Sepia (cuttlefish)

Un plato de jamon iberico de bellota - Bellota's Iberico Ham

Best ham in the world. Buttery, light and mild saltiness. I can eat these all day!

patatas bravas - fried potato and red pepper sauce

Chuleton tortilla - egg tortilla, ribeye steak

One of my favorite dish this evening and I did go back to Next Patio for many of these. The egg tortilla is out of this world. It's light, fluffy and eggy. It's just the best kind of egg you can have. The steak that goes along with it is flavorful. However, the star is definitely the egg. 

gambas con fresas y habas - shrimp with passionfruit, fafa beans flavor ice cream

This is an awesome dish because you would think you're eating a shrimp, but it's actually passionfruit jelly in there, along with the fafa bean ice cream, this dish is just delicious.

caramelo de aceite de oliva - olive oil candy

We actually had to find our little candy. This is an olive oil candy. It may look like chocolate, but it's just olive oil. Pretty fun to eat actually as the olive oil flavor starts to come out as you eat it.

Torta de queso fartons - farton's style cheesecake

Another one of the best dishes of the night. The cheesecake is phenomenal. It's soft, fluffy, light and you can just keep eating it till you drop. I did get quite a bit of these when they offered it at Next Patio. 

chocolate con arandanos y avellana - blueberry, chocolate hazelnut

I really do like this dish as the chocolate hazelnut wraps up the night so well. It's a good light, hazelnut chocolate that goes with some berries and a little crunch. The hazelnut chocolate is actually not too sweet, which makes this dish a good ending to this entire night.

Next Tapas is definitely one of my favorites of all the Next meals I've been. It's creative, fun and memorable. I definitely would love to have some of these dishes again and I did do so at the Next Patio during the summer. But this full meal will forever be ingrained in my memory as one of the funnest tapas meal. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Next Restaurant - Bistro

2015 brings in a whole new theme at Next. The first of the season's theme is Bistro, which is Grant Achatz's take on a French Bistro. It is a distance from its usual theme as Bistro takes on an actual restaurant theme from being a tasting menu theme. 

To start off the night, we are offered bread from La Boulangerie in Lakeview area. I love the bread as it's crunchy, has a nice texture and can soak up alot of sauces (which is instrumental for later courses) 

Oeuf a La Beran - Egg custard with crispy chicken skin and chives

For our first course, we have an egg custard with crispy chicken skin. The custard is smooth, silky, and savory. The chicken skin adds a nice crunch to the dish. Excellent start.

Torchon au Foie Gras - Foie Gras with brioche toast points, huckleberry, murray river salt, and black pepper

The next course is a foie gras torchon. The foie is creamy, smooth and not too salty. The flavor of the foie is able to come across nicely and not overwhelm you.

Tete de Pore en Gelee - pig head terrine with pork aspic, watercress, and cranberry

The terrine is a bit on the lighter side. The best part of this dish is the gelee as it's light and mild but surprisingly flavorful. 

Aile De Raie Meuniere Avec des Capres et des choux de Bruxelles - skate wing with capers, brown butter, lemon and brussels sprouts

One of my favorite dish of the night. The skate wings offers a nice crunchiness and exceptional flavor from its flavorful skin. The fish meat is nicely cooked and not flaky. Along with the well seasoned brussels sprouts, the fish dish is definitely a great bite.

Pintade Roti Avec Des Radis Braises et Pommes Anna - Guinea Hen with Thyme, braised radishes, radish tops and pommes anna

Before we were served the guinea hen, we were presented it. The chicken is cooked surperbly as its meat is juicy, tender and delicious. We were also offered a gravy from the hen and it intensify the chicken flavor.

Champignons Sausvages - Wild Mushroom
Carotes Roties - Roasted Carrots
Cassoulet avec des leoulouse - Toulouse style sausage and duck casserole

Our final course is a duck casserole, along with some carrot and mushroom. The casserole is great as it has a really rich flavor of the duck, sausage and all the vegetable cooked with it. This dish feels like I'm eating at someone's home and not at a restaurant. The roasted carrot and mushroom were nice side dishes to go with this casserole. 

Baba Au Rhum - Baba Rum

The baba rum is sweet, has a nice cakey texture and as my dining companion mentioned, "boozy". I like the combination of the boozy flavor and cake. 

Blood Orange Tart

Our last dessert of the night is a blood orange tart. It carries a nice tart flavor along with the citrus sweet from blood orange. My favorite part is the actual tart as it crunchy and provides a nice base to go along with the blood orange filling.

All in all, I enjoyed Bistro. It's definitely different from a tasting menu of smaller bites. I actually can't finish all the food this time, which is surprising because I usually clean out dishes. It's a nice concept and I think this can be a nice trial run for Grant Achatz's less casual restaurant that will open next to Next.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Next - Trio

The last theme dinner at Next of 2014 is Trio, which is the first restaurant that Grant Achatz opened in Evanston, Chicago. It was a prelude to the modern day Alinea and quite a bit of technique are carried over the current restaurant.

Brook Trout Roe - puree avocado, sugar, lime foam

The first course of the the night highlights the level of technique used at Trio. The dish consist of lime foam, sugar and Trout Roe, which creates a harmony of citrus, brininess and sweetness. Not a bad start for the night.

Rock Shrimp - Cranberry Meyer Lemon, Vanilla Bean (stick)

Similar to a course I had at at Alinea, the tempura shrimp is one of my favorite. The rock shrimp was flavorful with flaky batter. The scent from the vanilla bean makes this a nice dish from the flavor and scent perspective.

Crab - Coconut, Ten Bridging Garnishes (avocado, mango, cucumber, ginger, fennel, coconut)

The white sphere has coconut cream embedded in it and allows the coconut cream to the mix in with the crab, which was quite tasty. I like the mix of different garnishes, my favorite is the coconut meat and the avocado with pepper as they both highlight the crab.

Chestnut Soup - Baked potato ice cream, bitter chocolate, quince, bacon

When the dish came, I had no idea what it is. It turns out to be a soup. The baked potato soup with bacon is bold with "hearty" flavor. Surprisingly, despite the heavy ingredients, the soup is really light and not overwhelming. 

Ice Cream Sandwich - Parmesan, olive oil, black pepper

A rather interesting dish of the night. We have an olive oil ice cream sandwich. The "cracker" portion is Parmesan based and it goes really well with the mild flavored ice cream. It's refreshing and creamy. Definitely a good dish after the hearty soup.

Black Truffle Explosion - parmesan

A stable at Alinea and one of my favorite. The truffle explosion is a ravioli that holds the exploding truffle cream inside. It's earthy, flavorful and explodes up in your mouth. 

Duck Breast, Rillette & Foie Gras - Lavendar Salt Lozenga, plum

The duck 3 ways is composed of the breast, rillette and foie. We were instructed to eat the lavender salt first then onto the duck. I had the breast first and it was perfectly cooked, tender and succulent. It's flavorful and juicy. The rillette was tender and superbly seasoned. The foie is my favorite as it wasn't too salty and has a nice duck flavor to it. 

Pizza - super thin size

A tiny piece of pizza paper. It definitely tasted like a well seasoned pizza. A fun little pallet cleanser for our taste bud.

Loin of Lamb Sous Vide & Consume - floral infusion, artichoke, orange

The lamb was used for two things, a consume and meat by itself, both presented with the same ingredient. I like the artichoke mousse to go with the lamb. The sous vide lamb was tender, but was a bit tasteless and I find myself needing the sauce to make the lamb edible. The consume was a bit weird and wasn't my favorite as it tasted like chunks of flavored gel.  

Cheese 'n Cracker

This little dish is fun because the cheese is encased in the cracker and it squirts out when you bite into it. This reminds me of the truffle explosion, but with cheese and cracker. 

"salad" - romaine, arugula, red wine vinaigrette

With the amount of meat we had, it's natural to have some green. So we have a romaine and arugula slush with red wine vinaigrette slush. It's really refreshing and earthy. I wouldn't recommend eating too much cuz it feels like a juice cleanse. 

Raspberry - Tapioca, rose, lemon basil, vanilla creme fraiche
We have our second pallet cleanser in a raspberry tapioca form. The raspberry jello carries a clean, floral, raspberry flavor along with chewy tapioca. The "clean" flavor is also amplified by the lemon basil. This is a good refreshing bite.

"Pushed" Foie Gras - Pear, Sauternes, Salt-Roasted Pear Sorbet
Our second Foie Gras course is a classic combination of pear and mousse. The foie is smooth, mild, not too salty and pairs really well with the pear, which is mildly sweet. In addition, the whole dish is quite light, which is something I like. 

Passion Fruit sorbet - Mustard ice cream

Our intermezzo is a fruity passionfruit sorbet with creamy mustard ice cream. This combination is really nice as the fruity flavor goes well with the mild mustard flavor.

Smoked Persimmon - Endive, Cripsy Pancetta, coffee

Our next course is a Pancetta course. The crispy pancetta offers a nice bite as it creates a textural difference with the endive. I do like the persimmon as it's quite mild and not too sweet. However, the dish is a bit light and I felt like as if I was eating a salad.

Butter Poached Lobster - wild mushrooms, rosemary vapor

One of the best dishes of the night. This butter poached lobster is superbly cooked and flavorful. Combined with earthly mushroom, you just can't stop eating it. The cool part about this is before you start, hot water is added around the dish to add rosemary fumes to the dish. Definitely satisfying both our smell and taste buds.

Burnt Pineapple - smoked salmon, soy (sauce foam), togarashi

A small bite before our last savory course. This fun little pineapple combined with smoked salmon and soy foam is deliciously prepared. The little sweet from pineapple and the ocean-y sweet from salmon makes this a great little bite.

Braised Beef Short Rib - Root Beer Flavors, Mashed Potato, Salsify, Fennel
To wrap up the night, we have a braise short ribs. Our short ribs is fork tender and juicy, combined with the root beer flavor sauce, makes this a nice bite. The mashed potato is creamy, along with the salsify, makes this a very good way to wrap up the savory courses.

Transparency of Manchego - olives, Manchego cheese, crouton, olive oil jam, white anchovy

Instead of a traditional cheese course, we have a melted cheese course. Along with crunchy crouton, olives and anchovy. The manchego cheese tasted delicious, it reminds me of a more delicate pizza cheese. 

Huckleberry Soda with five flavors gelled - Thyme, Fennel, Smoke Cream, Chocolate, Hazelnut with Huckleberry Jam

Our first dessert course is huckleberry soda and jelly to go with five different other flavors of jelly. The thyme jelly is herby and mildly sweet, fennel jelly is a bit more grassy than sweet, The smoke cream jelly is smooth and creamy, while the chocolate jelly offers a nice chocolate bite. To wrap it all up, we have a hazelnut jelly, which reminds me of light version of nutella. Each section of the jelly offers a different flavor and they are all very tasty.

Maragda Chocolate at 94 degree - Flaxseed, Yeast Brioche Ice Cream, Beer Gel

To wrap up our meal, we are offered a fantastic chocolate course. The Maragda Chocolate is warmed at 94 degrees, which makes the chocolate almost melted but it allows the chocolate to keeps its form. The chocolate is rich but not too sweet. Along with a flaxseed base, which provides a nice a crunch with the almost melted chocolate, makes this a nice way to close the night. The yeast ice cream is a nice finishing touch to the dish as it's mildly sweet and milky.

Out of all the next dinner I've been to, I have to say Trio is probably one of the strongest if not the strongest showing of Grant Achatz's style of cooking. Going to its root is always a good thing and this dinner definitely highlights all the technique, flavor and skills prior to Alinea. I am glad this is the last dinner of 2014 at Next and I am looking forward to 2015.