This year for Valentine’s Day, we decided to visit NeXT again but instead of dining in, given the current pandemic restrictions, they were offering a special dine-at-home experience. I have been very impressed with NeXT’s ability to adapt during this pandemic and have been watching the way they’ve been rolling out their Global Table series closely since it first started at the end of last year. I’ve always been a fan of Chef Blackie’s ability to reinvent international dishes and have his own take on these flavours so I was looking forward to how he would do that with a Thai-inspired 7-course meal. It’ll be a great excuse to allow our taste buds to travel back to Thailand given we cannot physically do that right now.
The reservation process was very simple. They had a straight forward online booking system. It was a set menu for the price of $90 per person, not including gratuity and taxes. As soon as the order is submitted, I received an email confirmation with a pick-up code used for the day of pick-up. There were also detailed instructions on how the contactless pick-up will occur. A couple of days before the pick-up, I received a personalized email from Chef Blackie reminding us of the details of the pickup as well as PDF notes and a link to the YouTube walk-through video which we could watch ahead of time if we wanted to. I think the video is probably one of the most interactive parts of this experience. It’s nice to have step-by-step instructions from Chef Blackie himself that we can pause and continue watching as we set up and enjoy the meal. I’ve been watching these videos since the first one he did in the comfort of his own home. I enjoyed the wholesomeness of that video. Now they have become very high quality productions filmed at the restaurant.
The pick-up process was super efficient. We pulled up and gave the masked staff our pick-up number and then they dropped of the box in our trunk, only handing us the cold ice-cream and reminding us to put it in the freezer when we got home so that it doesn’t get forgotten. Once home, we opened the box and everything was very well organized by number and letters. I do worry about sustainability and wonder if the take-out containers are recyclable but I will be attending a local community presentation on recycling soon so perhaps I will find out then. (See below for details on presentation) There were instruction sheets (which was the same as the PDF versions) with packing codes and we were able to organize and locate everything easily. On the instruction sheet, there were even details on what kitchenware, utensils and chinaware/plate ware/glassware are needed – so attentive!
Drinks and Small Bites
The meal started with a cocktail and small bites. The cocktail was a lychee and passion fruit spritzer, which was very tropical and appropriate for the theme. The components were very easy to put together and the final drink looked very aesthetically pleasing as well. The canapés included crab, prawn and cilantro fritters in a rich and delicious tamarind chilli dip, as well as a peanut crusted striploin rice paper roll with nam plat prik sauce, reminding us of a very gourmet Vietnamese fresh roll dipped in fish sauce.
The mains start with a refreshing green papaya salad dressed with the flavourful nam plat prik again. I loved the added touch and crisp of the taro root chips which added texture to the whole dish. This was quite light and fresh compared to usual somewhat soggy papaya salads you would get at a traditional Thai restaurant. Next up is probably one of my favourite dishes of the night, the drunken noodles or Pad Kee Mao. The sauce was perfect and coated every strand of the al-dente broad noodles and vegetables very well.
After this second course, it was suggested we made the Singha beer and lime juice beverage which was very light and refreshing compared to just drinking the beer by itself. After the drink interlude, was my favourite Thai soup, the tom ka gai, a coconut based curry soup. I really enjoyed this version as it wasn’t too coconuty which allowed us to enjoy the flavours of the soup more.
It was time to have some sour long beans with ground pork and tempeh. I would have to say I’ve never been a fan of tempeh but I enjoyed the beans and ground pork. I did find at this point of the meal that some rice would be nice to cut the rich flavours so I did have some of the jasmine rice on the side with this dishes, fully aware that I should save some as there were still two curry dishes remaining. Speaking of which, the savoury dishes ended with the prawn and eggplant curry in a yellow curry sauce as well as the duck curry in a green curry sauce. Both were really good. I preferred the yellow curry more and we both thought the added touch of pickled cucumbers was very creative choice.
All good things must come to an end. This delicious meal ended with a delightful mango and coconut ginger panna cotta, which was inspired by the mango sticky rice desserts from Thailand – so imaginative! This was served with the not-forgotten kaffir lime and lychee ice cream as well as some crushed velvet meringue giving it a nice splash of colour for Valentine’s Day.
We had such a lovely nice and felt this was such a great dining-in experience. The dishes were very fun and easy to put together and the flavours were of course amazing and creative. The portion sizes were reasonable as I was worried it would be too much food but we were able to finish most of it. I would highly recommend this experience especially for a special occasional to break up the usual take-out/delivery experience. I look forward to trying other meals with NeXT’s Global Table Series! I’ve already got my eyes on the Vietnam edition!
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone and stay safe!
6400 Hazeldean Road, Stittsville