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Achatz's "Next" Two Projects: Time Travel, Cocktails

By Chuck Sudo in Food on May 4, 2010 2:40PM

On the cusp of Alinea's fifth anniversary, the brain trust of Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas announced yesterday plans for two new projects that may raise the bar on what could be considered "Future Food."

The first project is a restaurant called "Next." The concept for the restaurant is a fixed price menu that changes quarterly, based on great eras in culinary history or eras in the future Achatz and his team believe are destined to happen. Entry for next is based on a ticketed system (sign up for the ticket list at with prices ranging between $40 - $75 per person, depending on date and time; wine pairings are slated to cost an extra $25. This should be exciting news for a myriad of reasons. Foremost, the price range keeps the meal affordable for those who are unable — or unwilling — to afford a meal at Alinea. Achatz and Kokonas have stated they wish for Next to bring "4-star dining at a 3-star price." It also shows that even Achatz is keeping tabs on the current trend toward downscaling in both concept and price. Second, Achatz is an astute student of culinary history, going back to his days apprenticing under Thomas Keller. The ranges of great culinary eras at his disposal are mind-boggling.

The second concept is a reinvention of the cocktail lounge called "The Aviary." It's slated to be a drinks and small bites lounge without the feel of a lounge or bartenders, per se. Achatz has written in past entries on his blog at the Atlantic Monthly of how he's often thought of reimagining cocktails. Some of those visions have already been put into practice, both at Alinea and on the road at cooking demonstrations. No reservations will be required for the Aviary.

Both projects are scheduled to open in fall.