In honor of the 2012 Chicago Restaurants and Nightlife Survey, Zagat asked me to write a post about my best night out in Chicago this year. As a chi-town enthusiast, I couldn’t be more excited to be part of the first ever Zagat Chicago Blog Hop and share my night at NEXT with you!
Most of you know that I am a lover of all-things Achatz, so it seems only fitting that my best night in the city is brought to you by the team behind Alinea. NEXT is the white-hot restaurant by Grant Achatz/Nick Kokonas offering a new model of fine dining. This 4 star restaurant is built around the daring concept of a themed tasting menu that completely changes every couple months to reflect different global cuisines and time frames (Paris 1906, Tour of Thailand, Childhood…coming soont: El Bulli).
You can’t make a reservation at Next, but you can buy a ticket. Or rather, you can try to buy a ticket. Landing a table is not easy, but I promise you… it is worth it. After posting about my incredible experience at NEXT, I received a slew of emails asking for tips/tricks on scoring a seat.
I am going to let you in on a little secret - if you stalk their Facebook page with unwavering determination you might just get lucky. Most mornings, the team posts a handful of same-day tables. Have an email draft saved and the moment the FB post goes live - hit send and pray to the gods of modernist cuisine that yours is one of the few names selected. If not, try again tomorrow (and every day thereafter until you get a golden ticket). Persistence is rewarded.
If you are chosen…get pumped! You are in for something special.
My last visit to NEXT was the most fun meal of my life. No exaggeration (read my full review here). The menu was “Childhood” and it was wonderful…as in full of wonder. We ate our way through exploding bites of PB&J, Chicken-Noodle Soup (where the noodles were made of Chicken) and a lunch box filled with playful (and delicious) bites including a truffle Oreo! The dessert courses were particularly dramatic with the on-table campfire (flaming logs of sweet potato) and the cider donuts and foie gras frosting served with the beater still on the plate. Very cool.
The success of this menu, for me at least, was that it felt so deeply personal. Emotional touchstones were established through Chef Dave Beran’s inspired food, Martin Kastner’s modern service pieces and the flawless and deliberate service from the entire front of house team.
Weeks later, I can’t stop thinking about Childhood (the meal) and I have already started dreaming about the next NEXT menu.
I would love to hear about your best night out in Chicago. Vote for your favorite local spots in the the 2012 Chicago Restaurants and Nightlife Survey (open until 1/16/12). By participating in the survey, you will be eligible for either a free copy of the 2012 Chicago Restaurants and Nightlife Guide or an entry into the $500 “Night On The Town” Sweepstakes.
I can't tell if you will find this amusing or sort of creepy, but wanted to share! I'm a student at Columbia Business School and today I was listening to a panel of speakers and kept thinking about one of the speakers "Why does this guy looks so familiar? And why does that last name ring a bell?" And it finally dawned on me that he is your brother-in-law/best bud! I love your site and read it all the time so it was so fun to make the connection! Anyway, tell him he was great and very insightful!
Last week I wrote about how thrilled I was to be part of Made for 12 days of Giving. American Living invited a group of bloggers to pick out something special from their (solid) holiday collection to share with folks on our gift list.
***Christmas Present Spoiler Alert ***
When I spotted this shiny gold puffer vest, I knew it would be an awesome gift for my little sis, Ellie, whom I affectionately call “The Golden Child.” She earned this nickname because of her fierce commitment to her long blond hair and the 4.0 GPA she is rocking in Grad School (smarty pants)!
Paired with stripes and plaid, this golden gift is sure to be a hit on Christmas Morning!
(hey El, is it too soon to ask to borrow your vest for the next Notre Dame football game? The shiny gold puffer matches the new Irish helmet perfectly!)
I think it’s lame when people complain about being busy because, really…who isn’t. I mean, just because your version of busy might not look mine - that doesn’t mean we aren’t both doing what we can to keep all of those flaming pins in the air, ya know?
And so, this post is in no way a complaint…rather a statement of fact:
My past few weeks have been busy as hell.
Q4 madness has meant long hours at the office and more than a few evenings where I haven’t made it home in time to put Z to bed. That’s hard. On those nights, Simon & Haze skype me - she seems delighted to see my face in the computer but if I am being honest video-chatting with my baby breaks my heart.
Balancing mom-guilt and the seemingly endless list of to-do’s make for a potent stress-cocktail.
But here’s the thing:
I LOVE what I do as a mom, as a wife, as a blogger, as a christmas enthusiast and as an account manager extraordinaire with the greatest company in the world. I am busy, sure…but more importantly, I am thankful for the opportunities to be busy doing things I love.
I am learning you (or more specifically, I) can’t do it all…you just gotta do what you can. There are some weeks where professional responsibilities will demand more than their fair share of my time and others where Family matters will be all-consuming…and I just have to keep it in perspective- the madness is just for now. (Or that is what I keep telling myself)
At some point, in the not too distant future, I hope - I will wrap up the holiday push for my clients and begin my own Christmas shopping, but until that happens I am going to celebrate my mini wins - like getting our tree up, my after-dark walk to Whole Foods with Haze or our 24 hour visit to great-grandma S’s
For anyone feeling over-extended this Holiday season, good luck. Lean on your support network…and don’t worry too much about the to-do’s left undone. I am beginning to think that’s just part of life.
And for those of you who find yourself with some minutes to spare…enjoy it enough for the rest of us! :)
this doesn’t happen often, but tonight I can’t sleep.
my thoughts are noisy but they aren’t asking for worry…just some energy. and so I lay here buzzing.
i am thinking about work. we are in it, q4 madness. for our retail clients the frenzy of the shopping season has reached a fever pitch meaning i spend my days pushing with all i’ve got. i love it. and then i come home and give it all i’ve got, again…this time to my family. Sometimes its tough to give-all-you’ve-got and then give-all-you’ve-got back-to-back. You know? i suppose that’s why my suitcase from thanksgiving is still sitting, completely packed, in the corner of our bedroom. i’ll get to it. really, i will.
i am thinking about hazel. all about her, really, but for the sake of right now I am thinking about how hard it has been to get her to bed the past few nights. she has been a 12-hour through-the-night sleeper since 5 weeks old and then without warning this week she just stopped falling asleep (like mother, like daughter?). i hope this is just a phase.
i am thinking about this cold i am fighting & i am thinking about my weight about how I hope tomorrow morning the scale reads the lower of the two numbers the digital display has been fluctuating between. I am guessing it will. I was too busy for most meals today.
i am thinking it would be cool to change all my passwords to: TimRiggins1.
i am thinking about christmas and wondering when we will get our tree up and where the safest place is to put it. ornaments have got to be some sort of baby equivalent to fishing lures, no?
i am thinking about a note i got from a friend tonight. it was the most beautiful letter ever written. there were streaming-tears as i read it. i think they were tears of gratitude, but it’s possible that for a moment…my heart just overflowed.
i think i am tired now. sincerely, thanks for listening. good night.