Perhaps Next's most challenging menu to date, at least in terms of convincing diners that they want to commit to it, the Next Vegan menu was test-run at friends and family dinners over the weekend (and will likely go on sale today or tomorrow). And one person who was there has given us a sneak peek at what the menu will be like. Scott Manlin, a familiar name among fine dining types on social media in Chicago, posted pictures of the courses from Saturday's dinner, as well as the intro text which is given out at the start of each menu to help set the mood and the mindset behind it, at Facebook.
The courses are fascinating and amount to a tour of vegetable flavors around the world— from white asparagus to rambutan— and to what you can do with them to make them into more than just salads and side dishes; from classical treatments such as roasted artichokes or tempura-fried greens to modernist techniques such as liquid nitrogen licorice as a garnish, or quinoa "wire." As Manlin comments, "I was impressed by how much flavor and depth could be pulled from these ingredients with nary a drip of animal fat or protein. For that I find the experience culinarily interesting and certainly intellectual. Lots of textures, manipulations, compositions, and effort went into making it a 'satisfying' experience."
Check it out, including his comments, here— and read the explanation of why Next wanted to explore a vegan menu in the first place:
For our team vegetable driven menus have always forced us to be more creative... By stripping away many ingredients that we rely on we've come to a new understanding of so many common ones.
[Scott Manlin via Facebook]