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- 65%Luxury Travelers
- 51%Green Travelers
- 51%Business Travelers
Member Reviews (20)
- AlineaCommunity ManagerMember ofWellnessLocal CultureOutdoor Enthusiasts+ 8Jul 05, 2012
I hadn't been here yet, but this one of two 3-star Michelin restaurant in Chicago sounds like a phenomenal food experience with experimentation, precision, "complex, labor-intensive, beautifully conceived and show stopping" dishes. Wish I was joining you!
- AlineaMember ofWellnessLocal CultureOutdoor Enthusiasts+ 10Oct 31, 2013
I only get to come here if invited and someone else is paying $$$$, but oh my... it's lovely. Is there anything better than a PERFECT wine pairing with EXQUISITE edibles like the Black Truffle Explosion? It's fancy and it's just my style.Recommended for:LGBT
- AlineaMember ofLocal CultureFoodiesHistory Buffs+ 1Feb 10, 2014
Alinea sits in a small two story building. Alinea does not advertise its presence openly. A valet and a small sandwich board stating Alinea are the only indications near a double door set back from the street.
Upon opening the wide double doors, you enter a hallway that narrows to create a false sense of perspective. At the end of the hall is a kinetic sculpture that you can hear as the wind from the door moves it. Just before reaching the sculpture a wide door on the left automatically opens and there is the restaurant.
The lobby area is small and darkly coloured; the brilliantly lit kitchen behind all glass doors sits to the right as you enter and numerous chefs hunch over stainless steel counters painstakingly preparing plates for the patrons. Across from the door, a glass and metal staircase heads up to the second level where three of the four dining rooms are located. Staff buzzes in and out of the space. My initial impression was that we diners might be outnumbered by the staff.
We were ushered upstairs to a two top table in a room with four other tables by a server in a well fitted grey suit. This is the only middle room in the space. The light in the room was primarily through visually hot canister lights in the ceiling supplemented by indirect lights behind the service area and the bench seating area that backlit large glass tubes of green branches. There were four other groups of diners in the room with us but the noise level was very subdued, rather in keeping with the lighting and minimalist decor.
We were offered a wine list and water was poured as the server confirmed we were doing the 12 course chef's tasting menu. We mused about starting with an aperitif but were advised that the food started right away and we could start with either the champagne cocktail or eau de vie recommended as pairings for the first course. While the wine list was very impressive, we opted for the wine pairing and started with the champagne cocktail, but after inquiring about the eau de vie also sampled an aquavit. We had barely taken a sip of our drinks when the first course arrived.
No table cloth is on the dark wood table. Instead little pillows on plates were set before us with the needed cutlery for each dish set out before the food itself arrived. As well, an asymmetrical vessel was set on the table and described as our centerpiece to be used later for one of the dishes. We were told we could peek inside or wait for the surprise later. We chose not to peek but as our meal progressed, we noticed frost forming on the bottom.
The dishes for the various courses are unique to the restaurant. Chef Grant Achatz partnered with an architect to design and make unique dishware for the restaurant. Each dish, some of which are far from traditional plates, is uniquely suited to the course it serves. The butterscotch bacon was hanging from a wire set into a rocker makes you want to play with your food.
Many of courses came with bread pairings and two butters, goat and cow with black lava salt. I did not manage to finish all of any of the breads and had collected five different breads by the end of the savoury part of the meal.
Each course and each pairing was explained in detail covering the overall theme of the dish and the individual items; the wine area and producer was described as well as the thinking behind the pairing. For some courses, explanation was also given for the best way to eat the dish, like taking the yoghurt and pomegranate shot all in one gulp.
We received a detailed menu including the wines at the end of the meal. The photo for each dish as well as its description is needed to give any kind of idea about the course since the visual presentation was as unique as the flavours. The layout design of menu has a specific meaning: larger bubbles mean larger portions; darker bubbles signify more intensely flavored dishes; and the farther the bubbles are from the left edge of the menu, the sweeter the course.
The overall experience was amazing. Service was unbelievable. I seemed to be frequently dripping sauce and crumbs but no sooner was a plate removed than my mess was also wiped up. When we were debating the best description of a sake, a nearby server offered what were the usual descriptions given to describe the bouquet. Comments were often amusing and congenial.
The only downside was how full I was getting towards the end. I watched some of the diners who were having the 24 course menu and noticed they were getting the same dishes we were as well as others. They looked to be getting the same sizes. I have no idea how they could have eaten twice as much food as we had. Our meal took over two and a half hours. I was glad for the early reservation because it gave us plenty of time to digest before going to bed.
The 12 course menu was each $125, the wine pairing $115, it was less than we expected. We're already thinking of returning to Chicago just to go to Alinea again.
- AlineaMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget Travelers+ 6Jan 23, 2014
At Alinea, eating is about more than food, it's an event. Chicago's only 3-Michelin starred restaurant serves up gastronomic surprises (think: a green apple taffy dessert infused with helium to make an edible balloon) that have people booking flights to the Windy City for the sole purpose of eating here.
- AlineaMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsFoodies+ 4Nov 05, 2013
Hard to call this place a restaurant. It is a circus. I love to be entertained just as much as the next guy but flavored foam on a swinging contraption just isn't my idea of a good meal.
The food and presentation are definitely inventive. The service is attentive but reserved and a bit somber. I felt like I was dining on the set of Six Feet Under. Made me want to giggle.
I ate here with a trained sommelier. He concurred that the wine pairings were a bit off the night that we visited. The wines were definitely unusual / different but not necessarily a good match for the food.
Worth checking out the spectacle if you have money to burn. We spent $350-400 per person. I didn't like it but my guests were certainly impressed and the restaurant does a heck of a lot of business.
If P.T. Barnum ran a restaurant, this would be the place.
- AlineaAmbassadorMember ofLocal CultureOutdoor EnthusiastsBudget Travelers+ 2Jan 12, 2013
Three Michelin stars, the best restaurant in Chicago, and #7 in the world. Grant Achatz makes Chicago proud by constantly pushing the way we eat food via modernist cooking and evoking with our emotions with each bite. This is an absolute must for any food lover and completely worth the splurge. Reservations are now in the form of tickets sold online at their website.
- AlineaJul 19, 2012
When you first walk into Alinea it feels like you're entering a spaceship or something. It's very strange. You get in and it's this refined place. I went here with my family back in 2006 and they made a vegetarian tasting menu for us. Really inventive stuff. Sort of amazed that it's still around 6 years later but I guess people are more adventurous than you realize!Recommended for:Vegetarian