Next founder Grant Achatz worked at French Laundry under iconic American chef Thomas Keller for several years and his time there greatly influenced his philosophies in the kitchen and dining room. Even to this day, tables at French Laundry (which is located in Napa and is currently undergoing a major renovation) are notoriously difficult to secure. Mrs. H. and I plan to visit the original someday, but this will likely be the closest we can get for the foreseeable future.
As is always the case with Next, the food, drinks, and service were impeccable. My only regret is that I was afflicted with a nasty case of heartburn (courtesy of Jolibee, I suspect - see my last posting) during our meal that was significantly exacerbated by some of the indulgent plates we were served (for example, the lobster and foie gras dish was dynamite, but couldn't have been better designed to induce gastrointestinal distress).
Cornet of Salmon Tartare and Red Onion Creme Fraiche
Gulf Shrimp and Avocado Salsa
Blinis with Bottarga and Dehydrated Pepper Sprinkles
Barbecued Eel with Sesame Seeds and Yuzu
Black Truffle Custard with Chive Potato Chip
The famous "Oysters and Pearls"
Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Golden Osetra Caviar
The plating for this dish was somewhat elaborate...
Hawaiian Hearts of Palm with Medjool Date Vinaigrette, Cilantro Infused Oil, and Frisee
Pompano "Amandine" with Orzo, Pole Beans, and Preserved Meyer Lemon
Five-Spiced Lobster with Port-Poached Figs and Moulard Duck Foie Gras
Storey Farms Chicken with Red Pepper Reduction, Confit Biyaldi, and Fines Herbs
"Pot au Feu"
Beef Short Rib with Root Vegetables and Sauteed Bone Marrow
Chaource Cheese with Bartlett Pears, Clove, and Lolla Rossa Lettuce
Northern Spy Apple Sorbet with Honeycrisp Butter Lattice, Cranberry, and Barley
Another signature dish "Coffee and Donuts"
Cappuccino Semifreddo with Cinnamon-Sugar Donuts
Chocolate Truffle Mignardises
Assorted Mignardises (had to take these home - too full)