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“Wow!”
Review of Alinea

Alinea
Ranked #1 of 9,530 Restaurants in Chicago
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $150 - $1,000
Cuisines: International
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Full Bar, Private Dining, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Valet Parking, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Level Contributor
21 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Wow!”
Reviewed May 29, 2012

This has been the best experience EVER!
Not only that the cuisine is creative, innovative and inspiring but all of this is prepared with such passion and love. We have spent over 5 hours in Alinea and did not even know how. Every minute was worth the time! It was a memorable experience! Creating memories is always much more difficult than just cooking a great dish. Well, you made it. I will never forget our dinner at Alinea and will definitely be back! Thank you!!!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Tomas V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,141 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
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
20 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Incredible experience”
Reviewed May 24, 2012

I've never been more amazed by the presentation of the food at a restaurant. The taste was also very good and the service was amazing. It was an incredible experience!

  • Visited May 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Luvt0travel43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Monticello, Illinois
Level Contributor
14 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Deflated”
Reviewed May 22, 2012

My husband and I recently celebrated our 20th anniversary and chose to celebrate at the highly rated and much anticipated Alinea. We had to make our reservations 3 months in advance and only able to get an opening on a Sunday evening. We read many of the outstanding reviews and even some of the "disappointed" reviews. I'm not sure if it was the excitement and anticipation leading up to the actual dinner or the dinner itself that left us feeling a bit "deflated". First of all the only person who actually smiled and welcomed us was the hostess. I agree that the presentation and attention to detail existed, but the people presenting were mechanical and stiff. It was as if they knew they already were established and no longer had to make an effort to impress. We did the wine pairing and personally we have had better. The wines lacked the enhancement of the food. The amount of food they give you per course was such a small amount, it was difficult to get an accurate sample and taste. One of the dessert courses was a balloon and mine deflated onto the table before I could get a taste. They brought out another one. Difficult to eat and left a sticky residue. This was the point we felt deflated as well. We knew the dinner was coming to an end and the extremely large check was coming our way. I wanted to say "wait, this can't be everything". But sadly it was. Not worth the money. It was an experience, but we will not return and cannot recommend this to others.

  • Visited May 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
5 Thank momofthree44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Jersey
Level Contributor
45 reviews
38 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
“A little over the top and a little disappointing”
Reviewed May 17, 2012

I recently visited Chicago and wanted to experience what all the fuss is about. The restaurant is interesting in that I believe the theatrics actually take away from the focus on the food. My wife is a very picky eater with a restricted diet, while I am a very adventurous eater. They managed the difficult task of presenting dishes that looked very similar while being vastly different in content. The food ranged from good to outstanding (the truffle pasta dish with parmesian cheese was incredible) for me and closer to outstanding for my wife. The presentation is like nothing any of us has seen elsewhere (I won't go into details, but suffice to say they are full of surprises). We had the less expensive wine pairing ("only" $125/pp) and got barely acceptable to awful wines. I may be spoiled living in NJ and frequenting BYOB's where I bring outstanding wines, but our check with tip was $880. Maybe its me, but for that price I think I should get at least good wines (I subsequently researched on-line and the general price range was $13 - $30/btl). I have had comparable checks at a number of restaurants and I am OK with it if the experience is amazing. However, this was only half amazing. If someone else is paying, I would suggest a visit to experience the creativity of the dinner "event". I would also drink martinis.

  • Visited May 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
4 Thank gtfish1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
179 reviews
105 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 111 helpful votes
“On the Decline”
Reviewed May 13, 2012

The first time I went to Alinea was in 2007, and I thought it was the fantastic. At that time there were 24 courses + one extra; the food was very creative and fresh, and the wine pairing was totally on point. At that time regular food was deconstructed and put back together again in a new and interesting way, and it was truly an experience. Not so much on my recent visit. The menu is now downsized to 18 courses, with 6 of them being desserts. The food now looks and tastes much more conventional, nothing deconstructed and they weren’t very novel. Many of the courses consisted of only one bite, and they were too small of a bite to taste anything. One of the courses was one leave – just one single leave with some seasoning on it counted as a course. Another course was one single oyster on the half shell. It tasted good but one doesn’t need to go to Alinea to get oyster on the half shell. If not for the six desserts that filled us up with all that sugar, we would have left the place feeling hungry. Most disappointing of all is that the food preparation was not as novel as it once was. They are much more conventional now. The presentation, however, was always stunning. The elaborate and stylish utensils were designed for their dishes, and every dish was a show just on presentation. I walked pass the kitchen and saw quite a few of the staff putting tiny flowers on the little pieces of food with tweezers. Clearly the focus now is on the presentation rather than the food preparation, which is very disappointing.

I also didn’t like the atmosphere. It was very hush hush and stiff - one is supposed to be in awe of the place instead of having fun. The service was professional but unfriendly, with rarely a smile from anyone. In fact, the piece de resistance of the meal is the last course, when Chef Grant Achatz himself came to the table to “paint” the dessert on the dining table. He did not greet anyone, did not smile, did not say a word, and did not make eye contact with anyone. He painted and left. I guess he was being an “artist”? It was not very enjoyable as they somehow make you feel oddly unwelcome.

  • Visited December 2011
    • Value
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Helpful?
10 Thank goodgenes5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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