Grant Achatz: What’s Next, Ren Faire?

Alinea chef Grant Achatz announced two new projects on Twitter this week that are ballsy to say the least. The first, a restaurant concept called Next, will feature four menus a year from different themed places and times. In a short video trailer, the words "Paris 1912, Hong Kong 2036, Sicily 1949, Sao Paulo 1968, Ayutthaya 1767, and Cajun 1977" flash across the screen to indicate what's to come.

The restaurant won't take reservations; rather, it will sell tickets. The all-inclusive price of the ticket will cover everything from the food to service. Next's website says that menus will be reasonably affordable: $40 to $75 for the entire prix fixe menu. However, wine and beverage pairings "will begin" at a $25 supplement. Yeah, it gets complicated when drinks come into the picture.

The other project is Aviary, a bar without bartenders. (Drinks and food will be made inside the kitchen.) It's a "lounge without the attitude."

OK, whatever about Aviary. But back to Next. A few writers have already made the point that restaurants have become most people's primary form of entertainment these days anyway, so the themed-ticketed thing seems like a natural progression. And who better to do theater than Achatz, who has served bites of food wavering on antennae, and dishes levitating on pillows filled with scented air? In theory, yes. But ... Cajun 1977? Can the completely uptight guy in this video really laissez les bon temps rouler? Help us, Night Tripper!

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