Next

Last week, Will and I had a moment of complete insanity and indulgence.

A friend was able to score 4 tickets to Next restaurant and invited us to go. And even though it was a total splurge (I’m pretty sure we could go on a weekend vacation for the amount we spent), it was absolutely worth it.

Have you heard of Next? It’s a Grant Achatz restaurant (of Alinea fame), but the cool thing is that it changes every three months. When we went, the theme was Sicily. Other concepts from the past include El Bulli, Childhood and Paris 1906. You have to buy tickets ahead of time–and they are NOT easy to get. So you understand why we HAD to go.

Everything I ate (and drank) was delicious. I even ate some swordfish, and I HATE fish. I would actually very much appreciate it if every single fish would disappear from the earth and never return because they are ugly, smelly, slimy, scaly horrid creatures. I don’t even care about the environmental ramifications that would result. But the swordfish did not make me gag, and that says a lot.

The very best thing we ate was the pork shoulder above. (Sorry for the blurry photos, I didn’t have my good camera with me.) It was served with a spoon – that’s how soft and melt-in-your-mouth juicy it was. So crazy. And amazing. Cray-mazing! See? It inspired me to create a whole new word just to describe it!

I honestly can’t remember everything we ate–there were a lot of courses, all of which included wine. But I do remember that this was a blood orange granita. Or taste bud heaven, as I like to call it.

And for dessert, they brought out some sort of insanely delicious cake that used to be made by Sicilian nuns, plus some other assorted treats.

Here’s what the menu looked like. But unless you can read Italian, it’s not super informative.

In addition to the amazing mouth party we were treated to, the service was also excellent. We got tons of information and history about each dish that came out, and our wine glasses were never empty.

Cray-mazing, I tell you. Simply cray-mazing.

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The Aviary

Let’s get real. I’m a little hungover this morning. But I have no regrets.

Last night, Will and I met my friend Sarah and her husband James at The Aviary, a cocktail bar that should really be called The Awesomeness (in my opinion).

This was no ordinary bar. Our drinks were creative works of art. Sarah was served a cocktail in a flask. One of the drinks Will ordered was encased in a hollow ball of ice, which he had to crack open with a tiny slingshot.

Yes, a tiny slingshot. You can’t make this stuff up.

Also, every single drink was DE. LISH. US.

I guess I should have expected nothing less from Grant Achatz of Alinea fame. (Alinea is the best restaurant in North America. Look it up.)

But one of the coolest parts about The Aviary is a secret, tucked-away room called The Office.

Sarah and James are Aviary vets, so they showed us first-timers a thing or two. Once we had finished our drinks in the main room, they slyly asked our server if we could go to The Office. She raised her eyebrow for a second, nodded, and said that someone would come by shortly to talk to us about our request. Mystery! Intrigue! It felt like we were doing something illegal.

A short while later, a young man with an earpiece escorted us downstairs to a locked, unmarked door. Just as I was about to ask why he was taking us to the janitor’s closet, he opened the door to a world of sheer coolness.

It was a dimly-lit room resembling a very rich person’s library with plush leather chairs, glowing bottles of liquor lining the bar and only enough space for about 10 people, tops.

Sooo coool!

When I went to the bathroom and they had to give me a key to get back in (the door was locked to keep out the riff-raff!), I was feeling pret-ty special, let me tell you. Almost special enough not to wince at the $20/drink price tag. Almost.

All in all, The Aviary was quite an experience. I would highly recommend visiting at least once if you are the type of person who can get over the feeling that you are drinking dollar bills (it’s not cheap, guys).

P.S. I would have taken more photos, but it was pretty dark in there and I’m fairly certain that using my flash would have been frowned upon. The photos above were taken in The Office, which had a bit more candlelight.