I’ve posted about my journey to Alinea, but now I was there. I was seated and it was time to start the dance.
The design aspect of Alinea was thoroughly explained in Chef Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’ book, “Life, on the Line“. I had a great picture in my mind of what the multiple dining spaces, the tablecloth-less tables and wear resistant fabric on the seats were going to look like, but sitting in the rom, everything was much more sophisticated than I had imagined it would be. I knew that Chef Achatz’s cuisine was avant-garde, so I couldn’t help but feel the food was going to be at such a juxtaposition from the refined surroundings. What I would come to realize though is that the dining room at Alinea was the gallery and the food that I would be served, the art.
The Zegna-clad service staff were supremely professional and friendly. They responded well to my “casual” attitude and matched their service to suit my demeanour. I was also guided very well through my wine selections for the evening. I was given the great attention one expects from a 3* Michelin experience.
The serving vessels and implements seemed so complex but also mind-blowingly simple and perfectly paired for each course. There was so much potential that the artful serving pieces could have taken away from the food, or felt gimmicky, but that wasn’t the case. Each piece was meant to highlight or accentuate the whimsical nature of the dining experience.
As always, looking back I have regrets in terms of documentation for this post. I should have taken photos of the restaurant, and I could have worked harder on getting better photos of the food. My descriptions of the actual dishes themselves will not do each justice. I have the same regret time and time again that I wish I were a note taker. But I’m unwilling to compromise my experience in the moment to do so.
Instead, please enjoy the photos. Know that each dish blew my mind. Take away from my experience that if you were ever curious about dining at Alinea that you should definitely do make it a priority to do so.
The last course at Alinea is quite extraordinary. I had known it was coming, but still couldn’t help but feel incredibly excited in its execution. To prepare for this dessert, the table is cleared and a large silicone piece of fabric is draped over the top. Ingredients are left in small bowls at the edge of the table. One of the chef’s then comes up to the table and starts their final work of art. Literally.
Dinner was over, and I was supremely happy. In the book, I know that if you see Chef Achatz after the meal he will ask diners “how did we do?”. That’s a question I got to respond to in-person and my response is part of my next post, “My conversation with Grant (and Nick)”.
Alinea: 1723 North Halsted St, Chicago