Monday, October 27, 2014

the emperor's new clothes

last night we went to next for the Trio menu - for the uninitiated next is the original Chicago ticketed meal high end dining gourmet restaurant. First I will run through the menu and then when you know what we had I will make some remarks about the experience-

the whole thing in one place-

the announcement above rolled- and below opened - about the intention for the diner-

the menu begins-

off to a good start with the roe dish-

 this one you pulled off the bean with your mouth closed around it- the shrimp flavor was fabulous the other elements didn't really come together for me-

at this point we added this elixir to our sparkling wine - we really couldn't taste the difference - wonder if there really was one...

the restaurant graciously ditched the coconut from the next course for me and did a substitute with some kind of squash-

Phil had the coconut - which when pricked spread out like an egg yolk-

the soup was quite visually impressive - served in a cylinder that was removed and the soup poured out of the bottom-

lots of flavors going on here but the thing I really liked was using crunchy potato chips in the soup for texture..

the ice cream sandwiches unwrapped- Parmesan shortbread with olive oil ice cream- Phil loved this course - I was less enthusiastic but still - how can you go wrong with ice cream?

a one bite truffle explosion that we both agreed was good but would have been better with whit truffles instead of black-

then the next segment of the menu-

the foie gras on this course was fabulous and the duck rillettes and the jus- I was less enamored of the lavender used as a savory - rather than in a sweeter dish...

the duck close up- with the foie gras front and center over the rillettes-

the utensils for the next course-

Stouffer's French Bread Pizza - you would swear it tasted exactly like that less than fabulous pizza bread from the "lean years" of your younger life... good news- portion was minuscule...

we did have some excellent wine pairings - maybe the best group we have had at any of the next menus we have done-

lamb two ways- hard sell for me but Phil enjoyed the extras I passed him-

salad course with greens as granita-

now THIS was an amazing and wonderful course- smell the rose- then suck the tube of dessert flavors down like it was a giant straw- fun and fabulous!

next up another foie gras course - this one with sweeter flavors

this next course was an amazing achievement- exactly the right combination of passion fruit and mustard so that you tasted each equally with neither element overwhelming the other -

and the final segment of the menu-

a 2005 Chassagne-Montrachet that was way over the hill - we are still working on our 2002s and none of them have shown this poorly- if this was from our cellar I would have NEVER served it to guests-

the course had an interesting mix of flavors but did not WOW me-

here the lobster was perfectly prepared but the delicacy of the dish was somewhat overwhelmed by the rosemary "aromatics" in the hot water below-

another suck it off the stick course- burnt pineapple with soy froth -

then a short rib course with root beer flavors - which I liked (not too much root beer) but Phil was unimpressed by- 

a course we both really liked - manchego cheese transparency - with all the stuff underneath- olives croutons, micro greens - peppers etc...

the huckleberry soda for the next course of gelled flavors -

tea or coffee choice - we had the tea which was chamomile based- flavored with genepy

a chocolate course with a seed cookie underneath- the chocolate was excellent and Phil got two flax seed cookies which made him happy--- and me happy too...

we got to take home the roses -

SO ...... about 2/3 of the way through the meal I said to Phil that for me, this experience was very similar to our meal at WD50 in NYC.  There were some brilliant courses but for the most part it was a huge mish-mosh of flavors that sometimes didn't work together at all, in my opinion.  Everyone has their own take on any given meal, but for this meal - which can easily set back two diners more than four figures (according to the newspaper review) - I felt like the diners were taken advantage of and it was equivalent to the Emperor's New Clothes... the value simply was not there! We went late Sunday night - kind of like taking the red eye flight- as they very much use the yield management system in their ticket pricing so our tab was under a grand - but seriously for this kind of dough - this meal should have been beyond perfection- it should have been transcendence itself!

For a perfect meal at less than half the price, I would highly recommend the fall menu at 42 grams, or if you can't get in there, go to Senza.  Both of these restaurants are very high end and ticketed as well but both of them offer much more value than this particular menu at next.  Don't get me wrong, we have had some superb meals at next and will return again - but this was a real "miss" in my opinion.

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