If you’re reading this blog you’re probably already well aware of the fact that Next has announced the three menus for 2014: Chicago Steak, Chinese: Modern, and Trio, January 20, 2004.
Prior to the announcement I was taking a wait and see approach to our season tickets for next year. On the one hand, I do enjoy the experience of going to Next because the highs can be so high (Paris 1908, The Hunt, etc.). On the other, the restaurant can be exceptionally frustrating. Service isn’t as good as it should be given the price point (I suspect their staff turnover is higher than average, but that’s just a guess), the terms under which you’re forced to deal with the restaurant are pretty anti-consumer, and there are inherent drawbacks in only running a given menu for three or four months. I could easily spend the significant dollars involved elsewhere, eating more on my own terms.
When news first started to leak about a steakhouse menu I honestly thought it was a joke. For such a creative team to put on the least creative menu possible was laughable to me. Well, turns out I was wrong and Chicago Steak it is. I’m sure it will be good but, frankly, I’m still disappointed in the choice.
But it’s the other two menus that are forcing me to re-up. I’m a fan of the more conceptual, more avant-garde stuff, which is what I’m hoping for with the Chinese menu. I don’t want to go to Next to eat Chinese food (I didn’t really enjoy going to Next to eat Thai food). I want to see what Next can bring to the idea of Chinese food. I know that sounds trite and ridiculous, but it’s the only way I can see the menu being successful.
I’m excited about the Trio menu out of a sense of nostalgia. Trio was one of the few restaurants to really force me to re-think fine dining. My first dinner there was the second meeting between my family and my future in-laws. The emotions of that combined with cuisine that was so radically different from anything I had ever experienced had me completely thrown. It was easily one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had. Trio was also the first restaurant where I paid for a long tasting menu on my own dime. I had just received my first bonus at work. It wasn’t huge, but it was enough to do something fun and interesting. Rather than buying a new surround sound system I took my then girlfriend (now wife) to Trio for the Tour de Force. It looks like some of the dishes that were on that menu will be at the one served at Next. I’m sure I’ll have an emotional response that night, which to me is really what makes dining out fun.