Grant Achatz's Next: A Restaurant Concept That May Just Be Perfect For Fickle Dallas Diners

Categories: Food News

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Today's New York Times takes a close look at Next, a new dining concept in Chicago opened by Grant Achatz and his partner, Nick Kokonas. The restaurant is innovative not only in its changing menu, which bops around the globe chasing French then Thai then whatever's next (Italy?), but also charges a cost of admission. That will be $130 per seat, in advance please.

If you don't show, you eat the cost. Tickets are sold well before diners take their seats. The idea seems slightly off-putting. Dinner reservations are easily canceled should one fall ill or simply change his mind. But it's really no different than tickets to the opera. There's even an after-market. That's right: scalpers.

Fine dining has always felt a little like going to a show. Whether you pay before or after, you're stuck there, for better or worse, until the sauternes pour and dessert plates are taken away. Sometimes it's captivating, other times, when tasting menus drone on for 24 courses and service is slow, you can feel like you're in jail.

Next takes this concept to, yes, the next level (the theater, that is, not the incarceration). It changes the menu four times a year with themes that completely shift the kitchen's focus. Achatz says the next show could as likely be inspired by a children's book as it could be an account of life in Italy after World War II.

Would Dallas support a concept like this? It would take our best toques. Cooking French food for three months followed by a tour in Southeast Asia takes serious chops, especially when ticket prices command flawless execution. But Dallas diners have a reputation for chasing new and shiny restaurants, feasting, and then moving on to the next great thing. Maybe a restaurant whose concept completely changes on a regular basis could be the butter-basted Ritalin to a city's culinary ADD.

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Grant has a crazy story. The NPR interview about his book was nuts. A chef gets tounge cancer, refuses to have it removed, looses all taste only to re-learn tasting like a infant one at a time. Hes a bit cocky but show me a chef that isnt.

and no this wont work in Dallas longterm, not enough sophistcated locals and the rubes that come here to shop wont drive the business the way folks that travel to Chicago do

kelly bishop
kelly bishop

Chicago loves Grant Achatz (and rightfully so). For this concept to work anywhere I think it would take a Chef with enough talent, following, and respect to pull it off.  You can't just hand any Chef a concept and think they'll be able to make it work.


I think it's a great idea. If it excludes the type of diner who may "simply change his mind", then, that's all to better.

Scott Reitz
Scott Reitz

So who's the Chef in Dallas, most likely to pull if off?

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