Skip to content

Next Restaurant: Paris 1906

I went to a restaurant that serves “breakfast at any time.”  So I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.
- Steven Wright

Here’s the concept behind Next: Every three months, the restaurant will serve a menu inspired by a specific time and place. It could be anywhere in the world, decades past or years into the future. Think of it as culinary time travel. It’s a staggering ambition for a restaurant that not only must reinvent itself four times a year but essentially seeks to excel at interpreting many types of world cuisine within a certain historical context. For its first incarnation, Next chose to present Auguste Escoffier‘s classical French cuisine, evoking Paris at the beginning of the 20th century. The recipes are taken from Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire, widely considered the authoritative cookbook on haute cuisine.

Like most people I know, I have no point of reference when it comes to classical French cooking, so this dinner was exploring uncharted territory. Even a month later, it’s difficult to describe the extraordinary experience we had, so here are my impressions.

(An important side note: I decided to make things even more interesting by ordering the nonalcoholic beverage pairing, since the kitchen would surely do something wonderful. Besides, Josh was getting the wine and he’d let me steal a couple of sips. I was right about the beverage pairings — the wines were excellent but the nonalcoholic drinks were genius.)

(Another important side note: the numbers in parentheses in the photo captions refer to the recipe numbers in the cookbook.)

 

Hors d’oeuvres from left: quail egg with anchovy, mushroom duxelle-stuffed leek, truffled egg custard, brioche with foie gras and apricot jam, pork rillette on saltine

Our dinner began with an elegant tray of delicate hors d’oeuvres, my favorite of which was the truffled egg custard — a creamy, savory spoonful infused and topped with earthy black truffle. The mushroom-stuffed leek provided a nice vegetal contrast to the richness of the other bites. This course was paired with a refreshing ginger-elderflower-pineapple aperitif.

 

Potage a la Tortue Claire (907)

Next up was a turtle consommé — rich, salty, funky, very animal with an almost acidic tang — garnished with thin slices of carrot and turnip and an herbal flower I can’t remember the name of. The pairing was a sparkling apple cider-sherry vinegar drink which beautifully brought out the sweet high notes of the soup.

 

Filet de Sole Daumont (1950)

From left to right: breaded, fried sole roe, crawfish mousse-stuffed crawfish head, filet of sole, crawfish-stuffed mushroom

The best thing about this buttery seafood ensemble was the saffron-laced cream sauce, adding a delicious brininess that reminded me of bouillabaisse. Even better, the orange-carrot-saffron-fennel drink both echoed and contrasted with the notes in the dish.

 

Supremes de Poussin (3130)

Cooked cucumber wrapped in pork skin and stuffed with chicken, 4-6 week old chicken cooked sous vide

Other reviewers have commented that this was the least interesting offering of the evening, and I’d have to agree. Although the chicken was impossibly tender and the mellow cooked cucumber proved a tasty novelty, the star of the course was the beverage pairing: ti kuan yin, grenadine, and verjus. Floral, sweet, slightly tangy and very tannic — the closest thing I’ve tasted to wine without actually being wine, and one of the most delicious drinks I’ve ever had, period. Pure genius.

 

Caneton Rouennais a la Presse (3476)

The pièce de résistance was the pressed duck, which was squashed through an antique duck press. The extracted drippings, juices, and blood were used to make a velvety, deep burgundy sauce, so flavorful I wanted to tip the sauce boat into my mouth and gulp it all down. Instead, I enjoyed the cherry-lapsong souchong-Sanbitter drink, which cleverly elevated the duck’s smokiness.

 

Gratin de Pommes de Terre a la Dauphinoise (4200)

Comforting, creamy potatoes gratin with Comté cheese accompanied the duck and was the most recognizable dish of the evening.

 

Salade Irma (3839)

This beautiful little salad served as a palate cleanser and was made of vegetables flown in from The French Laundry.

 

Bombe Ceylan (4826)

Inside the spray-painted(!) chocolate shell was a rum ice cream and coffee custard interior, with a garnish of rum-soaked cherries. I like classic dessert flavors — no newfangled dehydrated savory vegetables masquerading as sweets for me — and this one was the bomb, a haute sundae with a crackly Magic Shell coating.

 

roasted banana Tom & Jerry

The Bombe drink pairing outshone the dessert itself, though — the roasted banana Tom & Jerry was like a melted milkshake, sweet, creamy, and eggy with hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

 

mignardises

 

beet pâte de fruit

 

salted caramel

 

non-alcoholic beverage pairings clockwise from top left:
carrot, saffron, fennel; pomegranate, verjus, ti kuan yin;
blis elixir xo, sparkling apple cider; cherry, lapsang souchong, Sanbitter

 

Since it was my birthday, one of the managers took us in for a look at the kitchen.

 

duck press

3 Comments

  1. joan wrote:

    awesome! i want to go :)

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink
  2. That menu is over! The next one is Thai food. Tickets go on sale soon.

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Permalink
  3. Nina wrote:

    Decadent! Looks absolutely amazing and tantalizing for the senses in every way!

    Monday, August 15, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *
*
*