Grant Achatz’s ever-changing menu at Next has, in its first two iterations, used fairly grounded ideas: classic French food, and a Thai menu. (We’re personally still wrapping our brain around the idea of the restaurant doing classic French Laundry food.) Well, he’s just revealed that the next menu will be a little more conceptual — childhood. It sounds fun, of course, and like it will be crazy in a good way. But far more interesting to us is how the idea came about: Achatz & Co. were originally planning to do a menu based on Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.
Let us mention for the record that Grub Street’s official stance is if you didn’t grow up reading Silverstein’s books, you may as well have not had a childhood. So, needless to say: When we first read the menu idea, we were way into it. But if childhood teaches you anything, it’s that life is full of disappointments, and such is the case with the Achatz-Silverstein team-up.
Achatz tells Time Out’s Chicago edition that “[I]t was very difficult legally because [the book] wasn’t old enough to be in public domain.” He adds, “So then we had to get permission from Harper Collins, and the author had passed away, so we had to get permission from his estate which turned out to be a complete shitshow.” Thus, the team had to abandon the idea in favor of something less logistically exhausting.