Friday, May 7, 2010

The Future of Restaurants?

Saw this in the last Dining section of the New York Times:

Of course, this is happening in Chicago (why don't I live there, again?)

The gist of it is this: Grant Achatz will be selling tickets for seats at his next restaurant, aptly named Next Restaurant, and after paying ahead of time all you do is show up, eat enjoy, and leave. No worries about tipping or settling a bill. Even more interesting, the menu will change seasonally and feature a different place, and a different time. Sounds pretty wild, and in lesser hands, potentially disastrous. And hooray, it will be cheaper than Alinea, his absolutely fantastic, if pricey, current restaurant. The website for Next tells us it will be serving "4-star food at 3-star prices".

I had the great good fortune of eating at Alinea last year, (sans Monsieur Pants) and this was a meal that made us want to record everything, to pause, tease out, and savor each ingredients. We ended up just bedazzled and enjoyed ourselves immensely, since the chef had every detail nailed anyway. The service was indeed outstanding- some of best, totally deserving their recent James Beard Award. I ended up leaving with a bit of a crush on one of the waiters, even.

If anyone can do this, Achatz can, he's got just the right mix of playfulness, creativity and perfectionism to make this work. I don't think many others could. In fact, I tried to imagine a Seattle chef who might succeed with this and couldn't think of anyone quite as perfect.

Each menu focusing on a different time and place!? I wonder if he needs any extra help with his research! :)

Mr. Pants Dubious the idea will work at all, but then again he hasn't sampled Achatz's whimsical genius.

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