The awards are in. Chef Grant Achatz's Chicago restaurant next has been named the National Restaurant of the Year by the editors of Eater.com and online votes submitted by readers. The mixologist at Achatz's neighboring cocktail lounge Aviary, Craig Schoetter, was named bartender of the year.
This really shouldn't be a surprise. Chicago is producing some of the best chefs in the world, including Rick Bayless from Frontera Grill and Topolobampo and Paul Virant from Perennial Virant.
Other nominees for Restaurant of the Year included The Dutch in New York; Birch & Barley in Washington, D.C.; Sustain Restaurant + Bar in Miami; One Eared Stag in Atlanta; and Barley Swine in Austin.
Mixologist Craig Schoetter went up against 12 other nominees including Maxwell Britten in New York City and Julian Cox in Los Angeles.
Fans of Next praise chef Achatz's menu that focuses on a specific place and time - past, present and even future - changing its focus about every three months. Next does not take reservations but instead sells tickets, which vary in price depending on the day of the week. Next's latest menu focused on childhood with everyone at the table receiving a gift and then multiple courses and music from Star Wars and other childhood films play in the background. Here is an intereview Chicago.eater.com did with chef Achatz on the childhood menu.
Check out Chicago' edition of Eater.com.