I had planned on simply going home after work, going to the gym, consuming a microwaved frozen burrito and going to bed. But an e-mail popped up in my inbox with the innocuous subject line: “Hello! Dinner?” It was from some friends we hadn’t seen in far too long, and they meant dinner tonight, and dinner at the most exciting restaurant in the city: Next. The gym could wait.
In case you’ve missed the blizzard of press, Next is the new restaurant of Grant Achatz, the internationally celebrated chef of Alinea, ranked by some as America’s best restaurant. When Chef Achatz actually met the exceedingly high expectations of the media and Alinea fans, what became a difficult reservation to secure became well-nigh impossible.
Needless to say, we jumped at the chance to go. Unfortunately, it was a casual day at work, and I had tossed on a pair of jeans and a three-year-old polo shirt. I made an emergency run to H&M at the mall at lunch and picked up a shirt and some khakis, costing a total of $32 (a small fraction of the price of one meal at Next). I hoped it would be dark, so that the fold marks wouldn’t show.
I should have been more worried about my underwear. The pants I hastily tried on were a bit too tight, and when I entered my car to head downtown, I ripped a hole in the crotch. Hooray for that H&M quality. I resolved, like a proper gentleman, to keep my legs together at all times throughout the evening.