Serious Eats: Chicago

Chicago: Alinea to Open a New Restaurant Called 'Next' and Bar 'Aviary'

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[Photograph: Alinea website]

Last night Alinea chef Grant Achatz announced on Twitter (just as the James Beard Foundation Awards were kicking off) that he and business partner Nick Kokonas will be opening a new restaurant project in the fall called Next and a bar without bartenders (more on that below) called Aviary.

The experimental concept is explained in a movie-trailer-esque video, which opens, "From the creators of Alinea.. a new restaurant.." The menus will rotate by season, but each season focuses on a different era and setting. The first: Paris 1912. The video flashes a few vintage postcard-looking street scenes, before we time-travel onto Hong Kong 2036. After some of the neon-lit skyline, we fade into Sicily 1949. The menus will change four times a year, focusing on four different "great moments in culinary history," according to the FAQ page.

Next Restaurant and Aviary Trailer

Why the historically schizo restaurant concept? Kokonas told us last night that Achatz wanted to cook food other than Alinea food. "The Hong Kong 2036 theme will be kind of like an Asian Alinea, actually...but it's not going to feel like Disney World," Kokonas insisted.

As the video advertises, they're selling "tickets" not reservations for different time slots, and just like airfare, prices will be contingent upon the day and time (so Saturday prime dinnertime will be more expensive than Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.). The prix fixe menu prices will range from $40 to $75. As of now, it's opening in the ambiguous "fall," but you can get all the latest on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Then, there's the bar, Aviary, which has no real bar or bartenders. OK, so it's not really a bar, just a big kitchen with chefs concocting cocktails and bites to match them. No tickets needed for that. And still no location details for either.

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