“Next is one of our country’s great restaurants and Dave Beran is one of our country’s finest chefs,” says Ryan Sutton at Bloomberg.com. The bad news is everything else he says in what might just be the first major publication negative review that Next has ever gotten. Like “So what’s the verdict? The service is outstanding. The drinks are stunning. And the food is often well-executed. But boring.” Will local reviewers follow suit with our hometown fave? (Besides bloggers like this one or this one, I mean.) Is anyone still reviewing every move Next makes? Stay tuned and we’ll find out, I guess.
But it wouldn’t be Alinea-Next if all that wasn’t immediately followed by sublime silliness in social media, as the image above suggests. Kara Lichtenstein, a food blogger and freelancer for things like this, learned the hard way that you do not joke that Alinea might be part of Chicago Restaurant Week. After dealing with a flurry of phone calls and tweets in response to Lichtenstein’s joke, co-owner Nick Kokonas angrily banned her from the restaurant group. It’s just not worth it, kids.
Other news and things happening in the restaurant world follow below.
• Fountainhead will be celebrating a famous author’s day—no, not Ayn Rand—this weekend. The author is the Scottish poet Robert Burns, and yes, you guessed it, there will be Scottish whiskey flights and cocktails, as well as some Scotch noshes such as Scottish eggs and haggis patties, through Saturday.
• Bistronomic will offer a crepes Suzette special on Candelmas, or in French, la Chandeleur. The tradition is, you toss the crepe and catch it with one hand in a pan while clutching a gold coin in the other, and if you succeed you will strike it rich that year. Two crepes for $8 at either brunch or dinner; pan and gold coin sold separately.
• Ever dreamed of being a cheese maker? Wisconsin Cheese Originals, an organization for artisanal cheese makers, offers a $2,500 scholarship for beginners; find out more here.
• If you enjoyed the Park Hyatt’s Meg Galus in the latest Key Ingredient, you can see more of her in the third season of the Emmy-winning Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition; episode one just went up here.
• Got a few Super Bowl-related notices: Burke’s Bacon Bar will be whipping up its bacon-based “handwiches,” which you can see on their catering menu here. And if you still haven’t been to Eataly, they’re showing the game in La Birreria, their beer-themed restaurant, and La Carne, their meat-centric one, with a fixed menu including rotisserie porchetta and pitchers of Peroni beer. It’s $48 per person; for reservations call 312-521-8696.
• It was a big week for Chicago’s rapidly growing food podcast scene. Who knew that WBEZ’s Chewing the Fat had a season, but they declared this episode the end of its first; meanwhile Steve Dolinsky’s and Rick Bayless’s The Feed launched this week, focusing on sustainability for much of the show. And you can hear what you might have read about it in this Reader piece on Sunday Dinner Club in my latest Airwaves Full of Bacon, where I also talk with Adam Shprintzen, author of a fascinating tome on vegetarianism, and Gus Couchell, owner-manager of the venerable Greek Islands.