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“Believe the hype.”
Review of Alinea

Alinea
Ranked #1 of 9,544 Restaurants in Chicago
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $150 - $1,000
Cuisines: International
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Reservations
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Minnesota
Level Contributor
730 reviews
70 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1,434 helpful votes
“Believe the hype.”
Reviewed May 31, 2011

Alinea is the 30th starred-Michelin restaurant I have eaten at and I admit I had doubts about the experience before I even walked in the door. I am a little wary of molecular cuisine and more than a little suspicious of places with stratospheric expectations. I will not take readers through a blow-by-blow account of the experience but suffice it to say this is an exceptional restaurant worth every penny and then some. This was interactive dining with a perfect amount of theater thrown in: the “gimmicks” were genuine in nature and in my mind added to the overall experience. The wait staff was knowledgeable, modest, and efficient. I was even graced by a visit from Mr. Achatz himself as he prepared the dessert (on my tablecloth!). I have never eaten at a starred-Michelin restaurant twice but I may have to rethink that stance and hope to return later this year.

These guys have put an incredible amount of work into this place and it shows from the moment you walk in the door. They deserve every accolade that has been bestowed on them over the years. Extraordinary.

  • Visited May 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank midway42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,151 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Utila, Honduras
Level Contributor
279 reviews
174 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 239 helpful votes
“excellent, much better than last time.”
Reviewed May 23, 2011

we had eaten at trio when grant was the chef and my wife had loved it, me, i wasn't sure.
when alinea first opened we tried it, again my wife loved it, i wasn't sold. we ate a 30 something course meal and i thought at least half of the courses were throw aways, gimmicky molecular gastronomy, gimmicky presentation and pointless.
on this visit we discovered the menu (actually there is no menu, except the one they give to you when you leave) had been pared down to about 19 tastings. MUCH BETTER. great flavors, less gimmicky tools and presentations and much bolder tastes.

to me the real stand outs were :-
the steel head roe
the yuba with shrimp
the trio of shell fish (scallop, razor clam and oyster leaf, yes a leaf that tastes like oyster)
the wild mushrooms
the hamachi
the truffle explosion (a hold out from trio days)
and the chocolate desert (it seemed like the chefs homage to jackson pollack as he painted the ingredients onto our table)

we also enjoyed the grand cru wine pairing very much and the service was exemplary.

my wife will no longer have to drag me to alinea, i loved it this time.

  • Visited May 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
5 Thank divenuts
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Most interesting, eclectic, gastronomical experience ever!”
Reviewed May 22, 2011

Alinea is a restaurant for foodies. The style is a tasting menu done in a way that you have never experienced before. There are 20 courses, each one presented differently, and are unusual and mouth watering. The truffle experience actually explodes in your mouth.
Grant Achatz is the chef/owner and is passionate about his food, the diner's experience, and the service that the staff provides. If the diner gets up for the restroom, food doesn't come to the table until they come back. They offer a wine tasting with several of the courses.
Chef Achatz has a new book out called "life on the line", telling about his life, battle with tongue cancer, his partnership with Nick Kokonas, and of course the food we eat.
He has just opened 2 new restaurants in Chicago, Next and Aviary. This restaurant is one you will not want to miss!

  • Visited August 2010
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank JEO56
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Québec
Level Contributor
166 reviews
106 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
“A unique experience”
Reviewed May 14, 2011

Wow and Wow again. We knew that the 6th best restaurant in the world according to Pellegrinos 50' best should be something and we were not disapointed.

From the first minute you walk in to the presentation of your credit card slip, an attention to details and refinement through only to the best.

We chose the pairing food and wine rather then ordering a wine bottle on our own, it brought the bill to 450$ / person, tip included for their degustation 18 courses menu.

The menu that evening: shrimp, rabbit, venison, oysters, mushrooms, short rib, hamachi, lamb, lemongrass, ...none of which presented like anything you have seen before. And never was the taste second guessed for the look.

We did not think that their choice of wine was always the best pairing possible. But then again, it may be great for others.

Our whole meal was a rolling art work, a perfect mix of flavor in each dish, well balanced portions and timing, intelligent surprises and a grand finally that leaves no one cold....absolutly a most if you love food and everything related to it.

  • Visited May 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Pourvous
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NYC
Level Contributor
28 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Truly unique food experience”
Reviewed April 25, 2011

I visted Alinea this past Friday night. My husband and I had hours of conversation about our opinions of the restaurant, which is always a great thing. I am torn about what to write for this review. Overall I enjoyed the experience, and I thought some of the dishes were absolutely hands down the most innovative food I have ever seen or tasted but I didn't leave there feeling completely blown away. Now, the only experience I have to compare is our visit to Per Se. While the techniques and presentation of these chefs could not be more different, I do think it's fair to compare and contrast ingredients used, atmosphere and service. I did the vegetarian menu and my husband did the standard tour. It was fascinating to see the Alinea’s chef be able to play with each dish and make them aesthetically identical. His presentation was incredibly whimsical. However, for the price, which is $195 plus tax and gratuity, (which ends up being almost the same price at Per Se,) I didn't feel as if I got the same satisfaction out of the vegetarian menu as I did at Per Se. I feel that they should lower their price point for that menu. The standard tour, I unfortunately felt the same. No frois gras, lobster, caviar, sweet breads, or similarly rare and or pricier fishes or meats. With that said, the dishes were executed to perfection and everything tasted delicious with the exception of a consommé and custards that were simply over salted. The other thing that struck me, at Per Se there were SO many extra little courses and touches that weren’t on the menu. An amuse, amazingly delicious bread course, pallet cleansers, cheeses, extra dessert courses, and a goodie bag of treats for each guest when you received your check. There were NO extra’s here…not even a single piece of bread. Now, the atmosphere I found to be strange. I believe it's attempt was to be minimalistic, but it came off as very cold, and certainly, if I just ended up there without knowing anything about the place, I would never in a million years guess this was one of the world's top eating establishments. Now on to the staff....where to begin....I always try and remind myself that when I leave NYC, I can't expect the same type of white glove service at high end restaurants. But, when you are paying over $200/person, all bets are off. Your staff, from the top down, should be professional, knowledgeable, and they should be an intricate part of the diner’s experience. A place like Alinea and Per Se, isn't just about eating dinner, it's about having a food experience. We sat at 5:45 and you could hear a pin drop in our part of the dining room, that is, with the exception of the four staff members that stood in the corner watching us eat, and seemingly talking to each other about their guests. So for the first hour of our dinner, it was quite uncomfortable to only hear the chatter of the restaurant staff as well as having them stare at you while you eat. I don't think I have ever quite experienced that. The sommelier was horrific. We wanted to stay within the lower price range of their bottle list $50-$100 - he offered us no help once he realized he wasn't going to be able to sell us what he viewed as expensive bottles of wine. It was truly offensive. Because we love wine so much, I recall our experience with the sommelier at Per Se to be amusing and so enjoyable. He had a wonderful sense of humor; he brought us tastings and without even having to ask, pointed us to many different price rangers of bottles based on our flavor pallet. We never had to say what we wanted to spend after we ordered the first bottle, because he got it, he understood what price point we were going to be in and or around for that evening. The sommelier at Alinea's response to us when we asked him what he thought we should get after giving him a brief description of what we liked was "Well...I don't really know, it just depends on what you like." What kind of response is that from a sommelier?? We were so taken aback and quite frankly that could have ruined our experience except for the fact that we know our wines and in all honesty didn't need his help. The food runners were all fantastic and one of the "captains" on the floor who was a short red headed young woman was fantastic as well. But again, not one staff member had the polish or the expertise that I feel is essential to working at an establishment that has received the kind of notoriety Alinea has. All in all, I don't regret going, it was such a unique and memorable food experience. Def go if you have the money to spend, but if you are looking for a meal that will leave you wanting to come back for more, my money is best spent at places run by Chef's like Thomas Keller, Daniel Bolud, Eric Ripert. After eating at Alinea, I confess, like my wine, I much prefer the old world rather than the new. But I wish this place all the luck and if he can bring his service up to par with the quality of his cooking, it will be around for a long long time!

  • Visited April 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
5 Thank tleecouch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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