Aviary Kitchen Table
I'm looking for feedback from anyone who's previously experienced the kitchen table at The Aviary.
My mom and I are heading down to Chicago for a long weekend over Easter, and we scored a reservation for the kitchen table at Aviary for our first night. We've previously dined at Alinea but besides that experience we really have no idea what to expect.
How generous are the food pairings? Our Aviary res is at 6PM, should we plan on eating dinner after or will we be too full/drunk?
How long should this experience take? My guess is at least two hours, but we really have no clue.
What are the chances (if any) of scoring a key to the Office for after our tasting? I'm hesitant to book a reservation for dinner after on the off chance we have the opportunity to check out the Office, although I know it's very exclusive and I'm not even sure that more drinking will be appropriate after the 10 cocktail tastings lol.
Thanks in advance for any input! :)
I had a lot of fun doing it this past summer. There is some food, but it is certainly not a meal. I'd advise eating something light (and east to digest) beforehand - that way you will have something in your system to soak up the alcohol (it is a lot of drinks). The length of time varies from party-to-party, but definitely longer than two hours (and shorter than four - as they often have a 10:00pm reservation as well). Our experience lasted about 3 fours and 40 minutes. I had a blast but at the end was exhausted and ready to go home; I would not have wanted to have gone out to eat afterwards.
You likely will have priority access to the Office if you want to go afterwards (assuming they do not have a private event booked there); mention at the beginning of your service that you would like to go to the Office afterwards and they likely will try and hold a spot for you (if that is what you want to do).
Here is some blog entries about the Kitchen Table at The Aviary, with photos included:
As you can see, it's not a lot of food. The "bites" are literally 1 bite canapes. You may recognize some of the servingware from Alinea--hopefully that helps convey the size.
I love the Aviary, and there are definitely drinks you can only get at the Kitchen Table, but some of my favorites from their menu have (in the past) NOT been part of the Kitchen Table menu.
I actually prefer to start in the Office, very early, like 6pm, and then move upstairs where the room is bigger. Order a few rounds and share everything off the regular Aviary menu and then go have dinner elsewhere -- of course it helps if you have 3 or 4 people with you and not just two. There's a lesser chance of over-imbibing this way as well, and you can easily walk to the Publican or Girl and the Goat afterwards for a late dinner (I usually shoot for around 9pm). Planning this far ahead also means that you'll actually be able to get a table at GATG if you call.
The Office is so small that if you try for a seat after it opens, they'll TRY and get you in, but they have no control over how long people stay. Also Next season ticket holders also have priority.
The Aviary Kitchen Table + drinks at the Office afterwards (many are boozy and quite strong) sounds like an insane number of total drinks. You may need a wheelbarrow to get out of there.
Hey Kathryn and Gonzo: Do you know if they'll let you order food from the Aviary menu at the KT? I assume yes, but haven't been. For the 2nd Next menu in a row, they have more substantial food offerings at Aviary than the usual bites. The ramen during Kyoto was fantastic, and would have been a nice adjunct to some drinks. The Hunt dishes (poutine, hasenpfeffer, and I think goulash) are all quite hearty, so this might be something else to consider, even if not totally replacing dinner.
That would probably be possible, but I do not know for sure.
One option might be having some tapas across the street from Next at La Sirena Clandestina. They open at 5:00pm and feature small plates; really tasty food, nice vibe and reasonable prices. While they do not take reservations, arriving at 5:00pm should result in no wait time and they are literally a one minute walk away from Aviary.
Publican is also a stone's throw away and might be a nice option to grab a bite before the Aviary Kitchen Table or Nellcote (both of these take reservations; Nellcote also opens at 5:00pm, Publican even earlier most nights).
I just got back from the Aviary this evening. Interesting because we didn't do a lot of research beforehand (we're from out of town) and booked the 7-course Kitchen Table tasting thinking it would be a food-oriented tasting menu with cocktails. But it's actually a cocktail-oriented tasting menu with a few food bites.
No complaints, because the cocktails are truly amazing - really inventive and a cut above most of what I've ever experienced before. It's really worth it. But you shouldn't go into it hungry, because the food portions, while very tasty, are very small. I also wouldn't recommend driving there because I don't see how you could leave without a very significant buzz at least. It took us a bit over three hours to get through the seven courses, but I imagine if you really wanted to slam down all the drinks you could do it in two hours or less.