This week in Food & Drink: Next's Tour of Thailand, Key Ingredient milkweed, recommended new restaurants

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Next executive chef Dave Beran prepares som tam

Mike Sula reviews the second incarnation of Next, Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’s celebrated new restaurant, where this time around chef Dave Beran and his team are presenting a Tour of Thailand that begins with a rice-perfumed entry and starters of street food bites and proceeds through a dessert of whole coconut filled with five sweets including sugared egg strands cooked in saffron and star anise syrup that he finds “jaw-dropping.” In between are refined versions of Thai dishes such as som tam and tom yam and some curveballs like relishes served with jasmine rice and meant to be eaten with a fork in your left hand and a spoon in your right.

In Key Ingredient David Dworshak of Carnivale goes wild with milkweed, which he spotted growing in back of the Fulton Street restaurant after being supplied by forager Dave Odd. He used the buds of the plant in an arepa with cheese that he served with beef belly and a garnish of tempura buds. The flowers of the plant he used to infuse both cachaca for caipirinhas and cream, which he made into ice cream and garnished with candied flowers. He said he plans to offer both as specials. Next up is Dworshak’s former boss Mark Mendez, who’s in the process of building out Uva, a Spanish restaurant and wine bar slated to open in the West Loop in October. Mendez will be working with tomato leaves.

In the listings are reviews of seven new restaurants including recommended spots Bodega N. 5, the ground-floor bar of Mercat a la Planxa, where you can eat well for cheap between 6:30 AM and 5 PM; Albany Park’s Garibay Tamales, where you can likewise eat well for cheap; and Marmalade, a welcoming and creative new brunch spot in North Center.

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