Why the Next review differs

Next is, without doubt, a unique restaurant. And it requires, for better and for worse, a unique approach to review.

Because Next changes its concept every 13 weeks or so (exception: the El Bulli menu, which launched in February, continues through May 2012), a critic must secure a table very early in each menu's cycle, so that the subsequent review still has relevance.

And because the menu remains the same within the cycle, repeat visits — in every other instance an absolute necessity for a fair evaluation — merely serve to delay the process. And so, unlike every other restaurant I've reviewed, my evaluations of Next will be based on a single visit.

This year, Next adopted a season subscription format, wherein most guests purchased tickets for El Bulli and the next two concepts (Sicily, beginning in June; Kyoto, launching mid-September) all at once.

Given the extreme difficulty in securing tickets in the first place, and Next's repertory theater approach (the company stays the same; only the scripts change), we decided to handle Next in the manner of theater criticism. We bought, under the Tribune name, a season subscription, ensuring that we'll be able to review Next on the schedule we prefer.

The obvious casualty to this approach is loss of anonymity, something I try valiantly, if sometimes vainly, to protect.

But after three visits to Next, four to Aviary and four more to Alinea, my identity is no longer a mystery to this group. Being able to review each Next iteration in a timely manner seemed to be the greater consideration.

Phil Vettel

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • 1 killed, 2 wounded in South Side shootings
    1 killed, 2 wounded in South Side shootings

    One man was killed, and two others were wounded in shootings Tuesday afternoon and evening in the city's Park Manor, Bronzeville and Morgan Park neighborhoods.

  • City lists 'problem landlords' on website
    City lists 'problem landlords' on website

    Chicago's Building Department published its first "problem landlords" list on its website Monday night in an attempt to crack down and publicly shame apartment building owners into providing tenants with basic services such as heat, hot water and working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Chicago brothers who infiltrated cartel given 14 years in prison
    Chicago brothers who infiltrated cartel given 14 years in prison

    After more than six years in protective custody, the twin brothers from Chicago's West Side didn't look the part of hard-core drug traffickers when they walked into a public courtroom Tuesday for the first time since flipping on the notoriously violent Sinaloa cartel.

  • Emanuel, mayoral challengers face off for first time
    Emanuel, mayoral challengers face off for first time

    The first face-to-face meeting of the Chicago mayor’s race featured Rahm Emanuel offering a measured defense of his first term against a barrage of attacks from challengers who assailed his record on neighborhood development and crime and even his temperament.

  • 'Ghostbusters' reboot scares up cast: Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, Jones
    'Ghostbusters' reboot scares up cast: Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, Jones

    Director Paul Feig's "Ghostbusters" reboot has found its leading ladies. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are in talks to star in the Sony comedy about a quartet of paranormal exterminators, The Times has confirmed.

  • CTA rider robbed at Taser-point: police
    CTA rider robbed at Taser-point: police

    A 23-year-old CTA rider was threatened with a Taser and robbed of her cellphone Friday as she transferred from the Red Line to the Green Line at the Roosevelt "L" station, police said Tuesday.

Comments
Loading