As the reports on Next's Thai menu start to trickle in, we've kept a particular eye on the food-mad amateurs from LTHForum as being the most likely candidates to answer our main questions about the meal. Which are: in a city with a number of especially good and authentic modestly-priced Thai restaurants (Spoon, TAC Quick, Sticky Rice, Aroy Thai), how does Next's more expensive version compare? Does it offer the funk of authentic Thai food, or will Next's mastery of classical technique refine away the edges? Conversely, is there a discernable difference when you eat Thai food made with ingredients sourced with the typical exacting care of Alinea?
Josh Steinfeld, known as Jesteinf on both LTHForum and Twitter, who's well familiar with both Alinea and with the local Thai scene, offered his 140-character takes on a generally positive note: "Lack of funk definitely not an issue. You want fish sauce and shrimp paste? They've got you covered," and "An enjoyable meal to be sure and made me think more than Paris." At the same time, he says "If you've had good, authentic Thai food there's nothing new or groundbreaking about this menu," and "nothing reaches the heights of the duck from the Paris menu."
Another LTHer who posts as "REB" and tweets as @ChicagoRonna offered an unequivocal take on our third question: "At times, better ingredients made a difference. Wild line caught sous vide catfish was near perfect." Near perfect— that should make you feel better about the time you'll spend clicking refresh to get tickets.