Next Restaurant takes us back to Ancient Rome

Every year around November/December, I anxiously anticipate Next Restaurant's menus for the upcoming year. Chef Grant Achatz and Chef Jenner Tomaska are both imaginative and calculated with their menu iterations.  In 2016, when they announced that they were taking restaurant patrons back to ancient Rome, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Since I have been a season ticket holder, I have been able to reminisce about my Childhood, experience the Hunt of excellent cuisine and finally be transported back to Barcelona, Spain when Ferran Adria captivated restaurant patrons with his interpreation of cuisine using molecular gastronomy at El Bulli. Each menu proves to be fascinating and truly challenges each patron to thing outside the proverbial box.  Ancient Rome was no different. Chef Grant and Chef Jenner take us back to fourth or fifth century Rome and allow us to explore a variety of recipes attributed to Apicius, a Roman gourmet and lover of luxury. 

Each table received their very own copy of The Roman Cookery Book as well as a copy of the menu.  While this was an unconventional move (patrons typically receive a copy when at the conclusion of the meal), it allowed guests to read the passages that inspired the upcoming dishes. 

In an effort to be more unconventional, I thought I would change this post up a bit.  Rather than take you course by course on this culinary adventure, I will simply highlight a few of the courses I felt were outstanding. 

Vinum Ex Atro Candidum Facies (6): Honey, Cabbage, Apple, Grape

Our first glimpse into the Roman Cookery was a cocktail crafted by Aviary beverage director, Micah Melton. Don't let the ingredients fool you, it was quite refreshing and enjoyable.  And did I mention that it changed colors while it was mixed?  Yes, Micah has mad skills. 

Herbae Rusticae (101): Melon, Herbs, Liquamen

Cuminatum In Ostrea Et Conchylia(30)- Kamut Pancake, Oyster, Pomegranate

Isicia Ex Sphondylis (42): Mussels, Saffron, Lardo

Aliter Tubera: Elixas Et Asperso (320) Sale Gustum De Batacios Et Epullus (64): Beets, Black Truffle, Chicken Skin

Perhaps it was the Black Truffle or the crispy bite of chicken skin, but this was one of my favorite dishes all evening.  Even though it was April, this dish certainly warmed me up. 

Pisam Coques (193)- Smoked Marscarpone, Beans, Striped Bass

Isicia De Scillis Vel De cammaris Amplis (39): Shrimp, Olives and Walnut

Aliter Porros (88): Leek, Red Cabbage, Butternut Squash

Pullus Farsilis (253): Quail, Spelt, Lovage

Not only was the presentation stunning, but the quail was to die for.  Stuffed with coarse liver and heart forcemeat, the flavor profile was both rich and intriguing. 

Panem: Beef Fat, Poppy, Fennel Seed

It's all about the little things, right?  How darling is this mini loaf of bread? Prepared in beef fat and topped with poppy and fennel seed, this was brought to our table early on and cooked while we enjoyed several courses.  

Embamma In Cervinam Assam (347) Venison, Chesnut and Laurel

Sales Conditos Ad Multa (29): Oxtail, Turnips, Horseradish

Highlighting Roman preservation techniques, we were presented with a dish of oxtail accompanied by turnips and horseradish. While this dish maybe considered tiny is size, it was packed full of flavor and the aromatics of the salt intensifed each bite. 

Aliter Carduos (106) Artichoke, Carob, Citrus

On the heels of the oxtail course, we were presented one of my favorite courses of the evening. Cripsed artichoke, carob and citrus transitioned us into the dessert finale.  Seriously, how gorgeous is this? 

Gaius Octavios Gustum de Praecoquis (184): Goat Cheese, Honey and Fennel

Domum Felix: Mastic, Taffy and Lavender

I sincerely hope you all enjoyed this trip back in time exploring the cuisines of Ancient Rome. Even though this menu has since closed, Next Restaurant is paying homage to many films throughout the years in their Hollywood inspired menu which runs May 10- August 13.  Click here and secure your tickets for their upcoming performance!  

Until next time!