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Apr 14, 2011
The official opening date of Grant Achatz's new Chicago restaurant, Next, was April 6, 2011--just last week. But once you step inside, it's 1906, and you're in Paris. Not because of the decor--there are no flowery, flowing Art Nouveau flourishes in the sleek, contemporary space. Paris 1906 is in the food. 2011 Character Approved Honoree Achatz and his executive chef, 29-year-old Dave Beran, have created a menu inspired by the legendary chef and culinary writer Auguste Escoffier, who famously streamlined traditional French cooking and led in the development of modern haute cuisine.
But Paris 1906 is just the first stop for Next. Every three months, the restaurant will transform its menu, focusing on another part of the world and another era. What most restaurateurs would see as a daunting challenge--completely changing a restaurant's focus four times a year--Achatz sees as a way to keep Next fresh and to continue pushing the boundaries of cooking and dining.
Recognizing that dining has become as much about entertainment as it is eating, you don't make reservations at Next. You buy tickets. And like theatrical performances, ticket prices for the prix fixe seatings vary based on timing--Saturday night costs more than Wednesday, for instance. Still, at $65 to $110 (without beverage pairings, which add $22 to $40 to the ticket), it's much more affordable than Achatz's acclaimed molecular gastronomy restaurant, Alinea.
Not that you'll necessarily be able to get tickets. The first flight of tickets, through June 30, is nearly sold out. And Eater reports that Next tickets are showing up on Craigslist for as much as $3,000 (for a table for six, to be fair).
Another way you can tell the year really is 2011, not 1906? The Character Approved Next announced its opening not with a Toulouse-Lautrec poster, but with this stylish YouTube video.
[Images, video: Next]