Very good! Everything we has was well prepared and tasted
Very good! Everything we has was well prepared and tasted great! We will definitely return for another meal.
Back after 8 years! - entrance is completely different;
Back after 8 years! - entrance is completely different; feels more like walking into a house now than the dark creepy hallway- the food menu has changed quite a bit- favorite dishes: squaw duck, wagyu, the jolly rancher tasting balloon with helium (hilarious when you speak after), and truffle explosion- least favorite dishes: the fish soup where the egg drops in, the dessert they make in front of you (I remember there being more chocolate and ferrero rocher-type before; now they use butterfinger candy), the pin pulling potato where you pull the pin out and the potato drops into the soupOverall, still a highly unique experience with superior service. I feel like they increased the protein they provide so I left full.
It is definitely worth checking off your list! As the only
It is definitely worth checking off your list! As the only 3 Michelin starred restaurant in the midwest, you really are guaranteed an exciting an interesting meal. I think they played us the greatest hits- we had a lot of dishes that I've seen posted. That's not a bad thing, just worth noting that you may see spoilers in reviews as they repeat plates (such as the banana split dessert.) Overall we had a wonderful time, but it is incredibly expensive and at the end of the day it didn't change my life. Go if you have the opportunity! Also pro tip, one common dish is the Truffle Explosion which you can get any time at their bar called The Office in Fulton Market.
Sigh. Was super excited to try this 3 star Michelin
Sigh. Was super excited to try this 3 star Michelin restaurant but what a let down.... Was it an amazing experience? Most definitely, with creative and beautiful presentations of the multi course menu extravaganza. Did the experience consists of delicious food? Not so much. Alinea sacrifices taste for superficial pizzazz. More catering to photo foodies then true foodies and relying on camera hype rather than basic taste. It's rather sad and perhaps best captured by the satirical movie The Menu. A few dishes of course were tasty. It's not like the chef can't cook. But I've had far better at a fraction of the cost without the pomp and circumstance. When shelling out oodles of cash, we want both our eyes are tastebuds to be equally tantalized, not one at the sacrifice of the other or such flagrant imbalance. Don't fall for the hype and gorgeous Instagram pics Alinea can provide. Unless that's indeed what you're really there for. I, for one, will be dining elsewhere.
Very mysterious restaurant as you can only book online; as
Very mysterious restaurant as you can only book online; as well, there are no signage except a black door and in the rain, very difficult to find. However, once you enter, you feel like you are taken away on a journey. The decor and sound dampening help to set the focus onto the room and meal itself. The staff are attentive and informative about each dish. I would have prefer they didn't switch back and forth but that could be part of the experience? The star of course are the dishes as they come out one by one in a well time manner. Each one prepared to perfection with very unique taste and more exotic ingredients. The presentation was nice but not over the top. I was perhaps expecting more but they were delightful nevertheless. I enjoy the small detail with the facade egg burning incense to add to the aura of the "hunt"with the squall dish. The meat was beyond tender and succulent. They finished strong with a dessert presentation on your table top and nice helium flavor edible sugar balloon. All in all, a nice adventure for the taste buds.
We had the opportunity to upgrade our reservation to the kitchen table last minute and do not regret it! Alinea has been on our bucket meal list for years now and we finally pulled the trigger for our 25th anniversary. What an experience! The glass box set in the kitchen corner, the professional service (shout out to Bruno and Bronson for an incredibly personal meal) and the food! Oh the food. All senses are satisfied with each dish. The Paint experience is especially fun! It’s definitely a monetary investment but the memories made are worth it for us. Again thanks to Bruno and Bronson for making our night truly special.
Coming to Alinea has been a lifelong dream, that I never
Coming to Alinea has been a lifelong dream, that I never actually thought would come true. I'm sure you've seen the videos and the pictures, and it's very similar to what you see--molecular gastronomy, incredible service, intricate details--but the experience itself is indescribable by any medium except by actually going. I was lucky enough to sit at the kitchen table , so I got to watch the kitchen work, and it's something I will never forget.
I never thought I'd be leaving Alinea a one star review but
I never thought I'd be leaving Alinea a one star review but here we go...Been there twice. Once in the Salon and once in the Gallery. These visits were pre-Covid. As a vegan, I was very impressed with their vegan accommodations at the time. On both occasions we were able to have the full Alinea experience and every course of our entire meal was vegan. I loved it. I would keep going back. Alinea used to be my favorite restaurant. I loved how creative and innovative all the courses were--especially since they were vegan. When a chef makes the bold and brave choice to offer not only a vegan menu item but an entire vegan tasting menu, and execute perfectly on that--it's impressive, to say the least. After dining there twice I could see that the three Michelin Stars were well-earned. Would have given it 5 stars. But something BIG changed...Unfortunately, after Covid, it seems Chef Achatz doesn't want to make an effort to accommodate vegans anymore. Alinea used to have a "Flora" and a "Fauna" side to their menu. The "Flora" side was vegan and the "Fauna" side was not. I thought that was such a creative take, being able to serve non-vegan food for the general population as well as vegan food that would be suitable for not only vegans, but also vegetarians, people with lactose intolerance and other food allergies, etc. Post-Covid, while they can make a meal meat-free, they no longer have menu items which don't contain eggs or dairy. They no longer have a side of the menu designed to accommodate people with special diets. This isn't a matter of "needing" to add eggs and dairy because the flavor would suffer without them; this was simply a choice of laziness as far as I can tell. Achatz can and has created literally dozens of delicious and satisfying vegan menu items in the past.For a restaurant known for pushing the boundaries of molecular gastronomy, one would think that vegan cuisine would be seen as a unique opportunity to create all different kinds of tastes and textures that either mimic foods we already know and love or go completely counter to what we ever knew was possible. Many chefs around the world are seeing vegan cuisine as the newest frontier, where new ideas, ingredients, and boundaries are constantly being pushed forward in the most unique and exciting food movement of the last century. There's a reason it just keeps gaining popularity, even among non-vegans. Perhaps Achatz is resting on his laurels at best, or at worst, either suffering from a creative roadblock, exhaustion, or just throwing vegans and those with food allergies under the bus because we don't matter to him for whatever reason. Unfortunately because of his choice to stop accommodating vegans, Alinea is now just like every other fine dining restaurant that views special diets as an annoyance rather than as an opportunity to create and innovate. That's a red flag in my opinion and is quite disappointing considering what Alinea used to represent but has slowly been losing grip of in recent years in the Chicago fine dining scene.While not yet having earned a Michelin Star, Brass Heart has a multi-course vegan tasting menu that is quite good and is a great option for vegans and others on special diets who are now being turned away by Alinea. It's apparent that a lot of thought is put into the vegan tasting menu; it's not an afterthought like in many other restaurants.Boka (one Michelin Star) also has a vegan tasting menu but it's sub-par so I wouldn't recommend.Alinea was the top of the list of these restaurants for me for a long time, but now they're just another snobby restaurant that looks down on diners with special diets and has clearly lost focus of what they used to be known for and what ultimately makes food fun: novelty, challenge, and innovation. Such a shame.
Great foodAmazing serviceAnd I learned that white asparagus
Great foodAmazing serviceAnd I learned that white asparagus does not make your pee smell as strong as green asparagus does.
Food - very mediocre, we had better mealsService - great
Food - very mediocre, we had better mealsService - great but very recited - the small talk is very forced Ambiance- great We did salon experience. Started at being very hungry and ended up feeling stuffed. There's no way I would be able to eat more that what we were offered. However we were not impressed with dishes. Nothing really stood out and in fact we had better meals at their neighbor Boka, one Michelin star restaurant. At the end of the meal my husband and I agreed that each of us will come up with one word that would describe our experience and say it out loud at the same time, here's our independent choices:1. Casa Bonita of fine dining 2. Walmart of fine dinning We were not just not impressed by the food but frankly disappointed. But oh well at least we got that off our list.
Unique. One of a kind. This place is truly awesome.The food I ate here had some of the best tastes I've ever had - and I still remember the tastes vividly almost 2 years later.A bucket list item for any person who enjoys food ...or even just breathes air.
Went here, to the Salon, for a special birthday and it was
Went here, to the Salon, for a special birthday and it was definitely an experience. The food was the icing on the cake. I had flavors and ingredients I otherwise would never eat. There was truffle, scallops, mussel broth, caviar, fois gras and more. The dessert that was spread all over the table was my favorite part: it was fun to watch, was plentiful and tasted good. I felt just fine being in the salon. I wouldn't be able to eat anything else if I had any more servings like at the gallery. My husband and I were stuffed! I didn't do a wine pairing as I read reviews that you can get tipsy by the end and I didn't want to be. We ordered about 4 drinks between us, wine and cider. Service was impeccable. Different wait staff bring you dishes but we had one main server. I deducted one star from this review because my finger got poked pretty hard when I put my hand under the fabric chair to scoot closer to the table. A very sharp needle was sticking out. When I told one of the passing servers he simply said that it must be from the upholstery - then walked off. Well, DUH! To not ruin the bday celebration I kept quiet and didn't complain. I just was careful in scooting in and out. Overall, I'd pay to go back, and I can't believe I'm saying that...
A recent review from Chicago food critic John Kessler
A recent review from Chicago food critic John Kessler painted Alinea as having become slightly tired in its approach to 3-star excellence. While I would agree that I have experienced snappier, more polished service, or perhaps greater unity and coherence of menu with more of a singular chef's identity, there is a certain charm and approachable recklessness to Alinea that will keep the curious coming through its doors at least once, despite nearly two-decades of service. Many of the Alinea classics such as caviar with brioche foam emulsion continue as mainstays and often help to bridge the courses as palette cleansers as we globetrot through different cultural explorations. If you are dining in the gallery (main floor dining) you will be treated to a brief excursion to the kitchen during which a team is cleverly transforming the dining room into a candlelit Victorian-era sojourn, complete with era-appropriate cutlery, potpourri, and china to compliment the squab and other assortments. This transitions to the A5 Japanese wagyu. Like many other high-end Michelin restaurants, this is sourced from Miyazaki Prefecture, which happens to be one of my favorite A5s; however, I usually prefer when the chef allows the A5 to be the star of the show without over-complicating its preparation or presentation. Here Alinea executes a rather busy presentation and underwhelming preparation of the A5. Of course, everything culminates in the famous dessert graffiti banana split and edible helium balloons. It's yummy and fun even if it borders on kitsch. And that's what will continue to keep diners coming to this mecca... It walks dangerously close to many gimmicky cliches but still remains fun and accessible, even if it doesn't break down culinary doors in the ways that we would like. Also note: no cocktail program. Kind of odd coming from the group that brings you Aviary. I asked for a yuzu cocktail and was offered a Fever Tree yuzu-lime tonic. As a nice touch, we received a last-minute complimentary upgrade from the salon (upstairs) to the gallery (main floor). The experiences are similar, despite a few less courses in the salon and less elaborate presentations of some courses.
An wonderful experience full of surprises! I would go back
An wonderful experience full of surprises! I would go back again just for the dessert!
I am just getting around to do this review of Alinea after
I am just getting around to do this review of Alinea after almost two months. It's taken me awhile to fully appreciate (and comprehend) the experience enough to put into words.We got some food in the SF Bay area there if you might have heard. Been to some of the food greatest experiences like Masa's, French Laundry (meh!), and most recently Manresa (this past summer b/f he announced he was leaving). I've had the pleasure of dining here too in Chi-town, most recently at Rose Mary, Oriole, and Smyth too.I'd have to say that Alinea really hits differently than those named above. I wasn't exactly prepared that this format here is more of a theatrical performance than just solely a dining experience. The music, sounds, lighting all are a part of their show. Cirque de Soleil so to speak of the dining world. Yeah...I'm getting off into the weeds, I know. However, my impression were just that. The individual dishes were impeccable but the added dimension of the performance so to speak made this dining experience much richer to me. A very memorable experience!The flavors were well defined and very clean. Just about every dish. The most memorable was their climax dish the dessert 'art plate'. I dunno how else to exactly describe it. It's one the photos to describe it better. The server placed a plexiglass table top over our table. They (several servers) proceeded to splay out various sauces and desserty things to consume you're provided spoon to eat right off this plexiglass presentation sheet....then the center piece was nitrogen frozen ice cream (maybe whipped cream?) which enveloped the entire table with an eerie-looking frozen fog for a few seconds......Amazing! What an end to the meal!The dining companions go there for this experience once a year to get a new 'performance'. I'd have to agree. One of the finest dining experiences in my miserable Troll life! Definitely not a cheap ride, but well worth the 'AA' ticket cost at least once in your life!
My wife and I went here for our anniversary. It was our first fine dining experience. Eating at a 3 Michelin star restaurant was on my bucket list. We had a 9 course meal with wine pairing (for myself) Almost every course was a show in and of itself. From dishes turned upside down, ceiling decorations becoming part of the meal, table fires, dessert painted on the table and edible balloons. The food was excellent and some courses were better than others. It was the most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten but well worth it.
Absolutely Impeccable Culinary Experience
I honestly had no idea what to expect here other than a memorable experience and amazing food. I was not disappointed it was a blast. It was a very entertaining experience. The service here was out of this world. The staff were very knowledgeable about everything including the wine. This was a very scientific based meal, the tastes of everything were altered with certain ingredients it was wild. My favorite part of the meal was the Mexican dish. The dessert was a beautiful disaster but it was delicious. This was a culinary experience I will never forget. If you’re thinking about it- YOLO DO IT!
4/5 by 👻 @Dee
I'll preface, I've been a hostess and server when I was young, so I am appreciative when service is consistent and solid. We went to the Gallery - $550 per head (tax + gratuity included) + drinks. Group of 4 Hostess team - ZERO STAR! HOSTILE! Garrett's popcorn team gave me friendlier service for spending $30. We were the earlier patrons for 9pm seating. They showed us the table and asked if we're okay. We didn't sit down and asked if we can take one of the tables of 4 beside it AWAY FROM THE DOOR. There's a draft from the door and then the patrons from upstairs would be walking behind part of our table when they leave the Salon. Not okay for $550 a person. They said the seats are assigned, with no further explanation. The standoff continues. One of hostesses came from the front came to join the discussion saying there are assigned seats because of dietary restrictions. I asked her if she memorized every seating and their restrictions, she said yes because that's what they do at Alinea. I think that's BS, she is not a server, she doesn't even offer us water, I doubt she would know. We asked about another table across, also, "No." We reluctantly sat down. Shortly after a gentlemen offered us a different table. WTF? The worst part, our original table by the door ended up going to a table for a 2!!! That made more sense for them since it has more room for the couple to shuffle away from the doorway / stairs where the salon patrons would use! Food 4.5 stars - Great food. Great theatrical experience even for our colleague who is a repeated patron. Service is questionable 3 or 4 stars. I'm Asian, I asked for my hot water and lemon since the beginning of my meal. They were good at topping up my hot water, just that my teapot of hot water was always cold. No tea or coffee offered at the end. Maybe they just don' they don't have any. They didn't offer the guests at my table, those who did drink whether they want to have a dessert wine. Just thing I expected wasn't there. I dined at Jungsik NYC (currently Michelin 2 star) earlier this month, the food was okay, but their service was better even though they had a glitch one of the dishes (you'll have to read my YELP review) and we caught them making an excuse for that too. Overall, it's still a great foodie experience to share with others. We will return. I just wish the Bartender/ manager at Roister can show the Alinea hosting team what service is. He was awesome!
Highly recommend stopping by. All my friends love Alinea Chicago
The most expensive salt lick in our lives
This was my second visit to Alinea. First time was 8/2019 when Chef Grant Achatz was the head chef and I had a marvelous time there. It was one of the more memorable meals of my life and I wish I could say the same about my most recent visit last month. We dined in the gallery with 3 other girlfriends. The staff were very courteous and lovely and the ambience was luxurious, but I have to knock stars off of the food. The first few bites were great, I really enjoyed the ocean trout combo (seared marinated trout and the roes in consume jelly), it was the high light of the evening. Considering that Alinea is a restaurant first and foremost, my entire group was extremely disappointed in the food. Many of the following dishes were nearly inedible because they were over salted (especially the mushrooms in the Japanese dish) to the point that I left a good amount of food uneaten on the plates. Some of the dishes with sauces also seemed to emphasize each individual element rather than how they come together, resulting in sauces overpowering other elements or a semi-incoherent mouthful when mixing items together. Like other reviewers mentioned, I can't help but think the executive chef, Douglas Alley, focused more on rare and exotic ingredients than on cooking a delicious dish that combined all the elements together. The wine pairing (we had the Reserve tier pairing) was very on point and all the wines were lovely. Absolute shout-out the sommelier! He provided really good introductions to the wines and also recommended really good wine. Lastly, because we dined there on Sunday for a 9 PM seating, there was no coffee or tea service at the end of the meal. For a 3 Michelin star restaurant with that price tag, that was honestly a bit surprising. Long story short, if you have money and don't care about where or how you spend it, you can eat here and enjoy the experience. If you want good food, don't waste your money.
My husband and I got to experience this epic place last
My husband and I got to experience this epic place last night and it is MEMORABLE! Service is on point, staff are friendly and professional like all Michelin 3 stars restaurants. Napkins are replaced every time you walked away. Food is Oh-Em-Gee!!! We chose the highest end wine pairings because we want something vintage and to see how their wine director swing it, and he didn't disappoint. We got this reservation via Tock 3 days ago, so there's hope for last minute reservation! Never give up! My favorite part of this dinner is that all guests from the Gallery was invited to have a course AT THEIR KITCHEN! We got to see all the actions and eat! It was a pleasant surprise! We actually got to meet other guests and chat a little too! There's this family from San Diego who took both their boys there, age 12 & 14, they sat through the whole dinner and enjoyed the experience! And I love it! So I would totally bring older kids there. Food portions are great...and a lot! Alinea gives you a lot of food so pace yourself for at least 5-6 hours before you go! Cheers!
We did not know what to expect when our daughter surprised
We did not know what to expect when our daughter surprised us with an evening at Alinea. It was nothing we had experienced before. Amazing!
Alinea has always been my list of restaurant to try when
Alinea has always been my list of restaurant to try when they hit No. 6 in the World in 2011, this is even prior to Chef Achatz's presence on Netflix's Chef Table and Final Table show.Alinea was the final piece of the puzzle after my experience at The French Laundry, and Vespertine.In terms of Molecular Gastronomy, I've had a dish or two at different restaurant on the West Coast side (Jose Andre), Alinea is Molecular Gastronomy at it's best, every dishes, design, plot and presented as art and most importantly, the natural flavor of food is preserved in the process of trick to the mind.Currently, the talented Chef Douglas Alley is at helm started in 2021, creating his legacy of Alinea 3.0, where 2.0 focused on renovation of restaurant in first half of 2016 to introduce Gallery / Salon, and of course Alinea 1.0 as inception of the restaurant created by Chef Achatz.I have to say, it is a daunting task full of baggage and Michelin-driven to transform for the better.The four of us foodie committed on this culinary experience during our trip at SingleThread Farm in Healdsburg. Despite risk of getting Covid before, during and after travel at it's holiday peak, we booked Alinea while having breakfast in the morning, the day of our visit to SingleThread Farm.I knew it was not going to be a heavy weight compare for the three-starred restaurants. It was more of an one-two punch on the culinary journey of excellence.Overall, the meal was excellent, one major miss for the ladies was the trip to Thailand, I empathize the difficulty selling Asian cuisine from their own origin and try to exceed expectation. It is the same as English is not my native language. The dishes were simply too salty, and word of caution from my favorite Japanese Chef Hayato, there's only so much more salt you can put on one dish to the next dish over a 10-course meal.Nevertheless, Alinea deserves 5* on Yelp, I am not a food critics who provides 1-3* like Michelin. The ticket we paid for the meal was well worth the ingredient, hard working chef and amazing hospitality team who provided the exceptional experience.Matteo, Kosko (sp?), pastry chef and many others who served at our table made our time memorable. We brought our stuff animal "Dodo", trust me, he's a foodie in figment of our fiction mind, he was well accommodated by Matteo, received a miniature menu of his own. Thank you! Matteo!Lastly.... my wife's earing was lost at the restaurant. After few days, the restaurant found it and mail it back to us. It really made our day for the sadness for losing something that's meanngful and recovered by the team.
Wow, what a cool and interesting restaurant! I can see why
Wow, what a cool and interesting restaurant! I can see why they were awarded 3 michelin stars, as this place really understands the concept of taking simple dishes and making them art. My fiancé and I were invited for dinner to celebrate our recent engagement. Turns out, it's pretty difficult to secure reservations as they waited months before snagging a reservation. The location is very unassuming and styled as if you're walking through a small home or art gallery. The hosts and servers were extremely pleasant and knowledgeable of every dish and wine pairing. As many have shared, this is a multi-course meal experience (8 courses) and surprisingly it is very filling. I say "surprisingly" because typically when recovering small portions I am left wanting more, but that wasn't the case here. Many have shared lovely photos of the creative dishes so I won't do the same. I was also impressed with the flavor profiles of each dish. Such robust flavors and colors throughout each course :-). Considering I had no idea what was going to be served each time, it was an amazing experience. I felt like I traveled the world through each dish and had wonderful guides along the way. The printed menu as a souvenir is a nice touch.
Best experience in the world the style the food in most
Best experience in the world the style the food in most lake lake you go to eat and you don't know what are you expect a surprise flavors everything is a great experience
Truly a memorable and magical experience.
Very nicely timed service with very high quality, exotic, relevant and exciting dishes. The service was top notch and really second to none. We will be back!
I was hesitant about leaving this review so I waited about
I was hesitant about leaving this review so I waited about a week to do so. Perhaps I'm one of the exceptions as I didn't think the food matched my expectations of a 3 Michelin restaurant. It might be the Michelin awards, long wait list , high price and reviews that created a more biased and positive mindset for folks prior to eating here. Consequently, this could have potential led them to leaving more positive reviews. Great for them if they enjoyed it. The staff was definitely attentive and responsive. At one time I thought they were wearing hearing aids as they were so alert to our needs. Unfortunately the food was more for entertainment than consumption. I didn't think it was palatable and I couldn't even finished the whole dish. At least the water was decent. Overall it was either too salty or floral and nothing spectacular.As far as dessert was concerned, I would rather stay home and eat a pint of smooth and rich Häagen-Dazs® than the hydrogen ice cream that was presented to us.A departing recommendation for the restaurant is to find a way to control traffic from upstairs. Folks would gather at the based of the stairs instead of exiting the restaurant. This was disruptive to the folks eating downstairs. it felt like strangers were in my living room.....
.Alinea has been on my foodie hit list for the better half of its existence and we were so excited to secure a Salon reservation in June.Each course was timed perfectly and flowed from one to the next, like a story. The food was inventive, delicious, and surprising, but most of all - it was fun. We were not expecting such entertainment and a meal full of boisterous laughter. After all, you're in a supposed prissy 3-Michelin star establishment! We were pleasantly surprised by how hilarious the servers were and really played into our jokes and playfulness. The service and the servers themselves were half the reason the meal was so good and so memorable. I'm terrible and cannot remember our main server's name, but she was so so much fun and you could tell this was her genuine personality. I do recall the Floor Manager's name, Stuart - who was also hilarious and fed into our overly enjoyable meal. This was truly not just a dinner, but an emotional experience. We will remember some of these dishes vividly for years to come and the laughter that ensued our entire meal.The dessert painting at the end, though artistic and beautiful, I found the least tasty, but that's just personal preference. The Trampoline Papillote was a personal favorite due to creativity and taste, but really every course was enjoyable and an experience. We were offered 3 levels of wine pairings and even the basic tier was quite good.Don't worry about remembering every course, you will be handed a detailed menu at the end. We can't wait for another opportunity to be back at Alinea!
I know some people don't like spoilers, so I didn't post
I know some people don't like spoilers, so I didn't post the full menu. But there were 8 courses for "the salon" reservation, 6 savory, 2 desert. I was very impressed with the wine pairing. Each wine really enhanced the food it was paired with and vice versa. I even drank wines I wouldn't normally like, but they went so well with the food. The wine pairing really completed the meal. As for the food: there was plenty of it. I'm kind of a small person, and I was so full after the first 4 courses I had to share the last few. The guys in my friend group said the menu was substantial enough that they weren't hungry at all when we left.
Where to start..Alinea has been on my foodie hit list for the better half of its existence and we were so excited to secure a Salon reservation in June. Each course was timed perfectly and flowed from one to the next, like a story. The food was inventive, delicious, and surprising, but most of all - it was fun. We were not expecting such entertainment and a meal full of boisterous laughter. After all, you're in a supposed prissy 3-Michelin star establishment! We were pleasantly surprised by how hilarious the servers were and really played into our jokes and playfulness. The service and the servers themselves were half the reason the meal was so good and so memorable. I'm terrible and cannot remember our main server's name, but she was so so much fun and you could tell this was her genuine personality. I do recall the Floor Manager's name, Stuart - who was also hilarious and fed into our overly enjoyable meal. This was truly not just a dinner, but an emotional experience. We will remember some of these dishes vividly for years to come and the laughter that ensued our entire meal. The dessert painting at the end, though artistic and beautiful, I found the least tasty, but that's just personal preference. The Trampoline Papillote was a personal favorite due to creativity and taste, but really every course was enjoyable and an experience. We were offered 3 levels of wine pairings and even the basic tier was quite good. Don't worry about remembering every course, you will be handed a detailed menu at the end. We can't wait for another opportunity to be back at Alinea!
This is a complicated restaurant to understand and enjoy
This is a complicated restaurant to understand and enjoy for me. I've waited years to get in and finally managed to do so on their waitlist (which if you are using the app is nearly impossible to navigate or utilize.). So the day finally came. If there is a sign out front, I didn't see it. A hidden gem. I was a little confused about which experience I was getting having booked "The Gallery" but I was happy to take whatever I could get. We were seated right off the entrance in a small room with 14 diners. Wasn't sure if we were moving between rooms or how that might work. After having later learned there was a chef's table with a very loud party in it next to us. I had to ask. Learned that in addition to ours, the noisy neighbors, that there's a salon upstairs. After requesting a tour after dinner, this was the place we would have likely enjoyed best. Quiet, away, fine dining rooms. Again, happy to get what I could. We were told that the gallery had the most courses and experiences so perhaps it was best. The service was of course on point. Super friendly, yet professional, and extremely attentive. I am sure one of the servers had bionic hearing as any questions between our table were answered by her! It's a beautiful dining room, almost minimalist, which will highlight the food/presentation. In between courses we were taken to the kitchen for a course and was so impressed by the efficiency and professionalism of the many team members that work to make the magic. As for the food. Super inventive. Presentation was obviously creative and unique. It was a large representation of dishes, all very different. Here's where things fall a bit flat for me. To me, it felt the show and presentation perhaps made up for the taste? I will admit, perhaps I don't have the palate for this cuisine. The smoked roe, was too much smoke. I'm not the biggest fan of truffles, so winding around the strong flavor of them is much. Cotija cheese is strong too, so a whole dish of it? I think I lean toward more subtle flavors and it felt like I was just being bashed around in each dish, course after course.The wine pairings and sommelier were very good. I like what I was presented with and has given me a few different wines I'd like to revisit another time.So, my rating may not be fair. I am certain that there are many folks who will love this food, atmosphere, and experience and their rating justifies it. It is unique. Certainly not for everyone; and not likely for me. I'd be very curious to know for those who've "experienced" Alinea, and even loved it, choose to return.
We had dinner at Alinea on a Monday night. We sat in the Salon area and were on the second floor. The wait staff was very professional and attentive. They made us feel comfortable and were very informative about each dish. Each course was given a brief description while it was served. After we would finish, they would describe the dish in more details. Each course was an experience in itself and left me wondering what would happen next and what the chef was imagining when he put it together. The flavors we experienced were some I had never enjoyed before and I will not forget. It was delicious, interactive and fun. The chef and staff made this an evening we will always remember.
We have been planning to go here for several years now. I'd have to say the restaurant lived up to my expectations. Each dish is a unique presentation and theater of the unexpected. The dessert finale was a great ending, if you still have the appetite to eat it. Overall thoughts... 1. The service is tremendous. The wait staff knows every detail on the courses and wines. 2. The menu is preset and unknown until you arrive. Hence, you better not be a picky eater. 3. Not going into detail on any dish as it changes. However, each is unique. There is some twist, the unexpected, or unique about its taste/presentation 4. Hence, you might lose some of the surprise when you see other tables seated near you. 5. I'd say the only negative a few of the dishes were on the salty side to my taste. Nevetheless, worth it as a one time experience at least for some very very special occassion. Book 3 months in advance!
It's not for everyone - decide if it's for you.
I'm not sure I would call Alinea a restaurant. It was more accurately culinary theater. So many things were done to evoke surprise. It's an impressive experience, especially for a blowout occasion, and some of the stuff was magnificent - the best to me was an arctic char that had been smoked until about half the moisture was gone, concentrating the flavor. Service is excellent without being stuffy, and that contributed to the enjoyment. You won't like this restaurant if you aren't willing to have the meal Alinea prescribes, the way they want you to experience it. If you're not in the mood to be dictated to, even politely, don't waste the money. Alinea is all about molecular gastronomy and transformations - if your aesthetic of great food is beautifully sourced ingredients presented to take natural advantage of them, Alinea will make you crazy. My companion loves "tricky food" and even she wondered why they had to freeze dry and then shred the osetra caviar. Because they could. It didn't taste better. If you're not in the mood for that kind of pushy showmanship, it's a waste of money. Even if you love the idea, Alinea was not perfect - which frankly at the price they charge, you have a right to demand. The biggest mistake (and why you might want the Gallery, where service is communal over the Salon). In the Salon, they staggered service, so unless you deliberately hid your eyes, you saw what they were going to do at another table - so the surprise they worked so hard for was sometimes given away. That's just dumb in a restaurant that sweats so many details - and charges a fortune. If I had to use only a single word for the food - Essential. Everything was concentrated or distilled to an extremely strong flavor. Extremely. In the char, that was magnificent. But everything was salty, sour or intense, with flavors dialed to 11. The kitchen was referencing Thai and Mexican spices and flavors, that gives you an idea of the mindset. CHILI! CHOCOLATE! FISH PASTE! It sometimes felt like spending an evening with someone talking loudly without modulation the whole time. I would have loved one subtle course that let the ingredients do the talking. Did I have a great time? Yes, when I sat back and enjoyed the show. Would I go again? Probably no need. Once was enough.
If Possible, Exceeds the Hype
I've had the good fortune to have eaten at some of the top restaurants in the world. Alinea certainly deserves its place among them. Each dish was an experience, but more importantly each was incredibly delicious and equally innovative. Each course unfolded and built upon the last to create a wonderful whole. Service was as exceptional as the food. Yes, it isn't cheap, but if you want an unforgettable experience that transcends a mere meal, then this is the place.
Dinner in Chicago...and Beyond
This was a really fun and enjoyable evening. The service was top notch, with the service being very friendly, and attentive. The ambience and dim setting has created a very firm memory of a beautiful evening for me and my partner. The food was very interesting and tasty, well presented and spanned different parts of the globe, the type of variety we enjoy. The wine pairings were well done and the sommelier was a wealth of information. One minor quibble was that the Salon was fairly cool. I was comfortable in my blazer, but my partner was cold in her short sleeves. In the last minute, we did have some recent dietary restrictions and even with the short notice, they did their best to accommodate. All in all, it was a wonderful evening and worth the high ticket price.