Instead of offering a modern interpretation of what a steakhouse could be, Next drew inspiration from the Mad Men era (that's the 50s and 60s for the rest of you). You won't find any deconstructed or overly manipulated dishes on the menu. This is just about pure gluttony and more butter than you could ever dream of.
By now, I hope you know the drill with Next, Grant Achatz and Dave Beran's West Loop restaurant, which not only changes its menu every four months, but also its complete focus. On Wednesday, the restaurant flipped again, with a new menu called The Hunt. I was lucky enough to get tickets to opening night.
What happens when the creative geniuses behind one of the world's most wildly acclaimed restaurants get to unleash their mad scientist molecular gastronomy in a whimsical environment? At Next, the newish creation from the team at Alinea, it means the simple hamburger undergoes a glorious transformation.
What happened to Chicago? When did this meat-obsessed, stock-yard city become so obsessed with vegetables? Not to be outdone, Dave Beran, the executive chef at Next, crafted a 23-course vegan menu for the summer.
I had a hunch that the many of Chicago's best steaks weren't in steakhouses. So I took a more circuitous route, one that still allowed for a few traditional heavy hitters, but left just as many behind. Here are the results.
Over the past year I've eaten at more steakhouses than I have in the previous 30 years of my life combined. And since the à la carte system is still a fixture of every steakhouse, which required me to consider a genre of food I'd never really considered before: steakhouse sides.