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“Alinea is losing its sparks”
Review of 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: Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Neighborhood: Lincoln Park
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Alinea is losing its sparks”
Reviewed March 2, 2013

We have dined 5 times here since spring of 2012. Each time has been different in the menu at least by 60-70% of courses. Unfortunately, our last visit was terrible and dissappointing from both the service and taste that we feel sad that Alinea and/or Chef Achatz may be losing his goal of pursuing fine dining service and food perfection. Only two new courses were done to perfection while the rest, even my favorites were either under seasoned or lukewarm such as the truffle explosion. One "main" course everyone finished eating before the wine pairing was poured and that was after we had to remind them as they cleared our used silverware and dishes for the next course. Without a doubt, we believe this is a sign of decline in a star and can no longer recommend this restaurant worthy of a special trip or journey.

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
14 Thank Cynthia T
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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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
Raleigh, NC
Level Contributor
21 reviews
14 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Interesting and fun”
Reviewed February 24, 2013

One of the more interesting places I've ever eaten. Pricey, but for sure a foodie place. I don't know if I'd go again, but it was one of those places to eat and take off the bucket list.

  • Visited July 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
37 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed February 24, 2013 via mobile

My wife and I started visiting 5 diamond restaurants 10 years ago to expand our palates and we make a point to visit 2-3 5 diamonds a year. Obviously living in Detroit we had to take a trip to Alinea. It's hard to explain a meal here as it is just as entertaining to figure out the intricate ballet of the staff setting up each course as it is to eat each subtle earthy dish. The dishes are tiny and colored with broad flavor varieties. Some courses are "choose your own adventure" as you can pair 5 delicate preparations of duck with 60 tiny sauces and accompaniments. The staff was stunning and serious, not quite playful enough for the joy the food and table settings inspire.

There's no way to compare alinea with any other restaurant. They go their own unique way and while the flavors tended towards the earthy I was hoping for an entree course with more depth and flavor then the duck or pork courses delivered.

The signature dishes were perfection. And the evening was well worth the cost and 8 hours of driving. We will be back.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank dharma42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida
Level Contributor
118 reviews
51 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
“Been there, done that.”
Reviewed February 11, 2013

My friends and I were told multiple times how lucky we were to strike a table here on a Saturday night while visiting Chicago. I've waited a few months to see if I would have a more positive feeling for it, but it will just so no longer happen.

In many cases the overall "package" you get here is what you shoot for. Endless courses of very small portions, some excellent, others just OK. The same could be done for the wine pairings. Theatrical presentation and service, which was courteous and at times funny. Some really remarkable food textures, like the "bubble" dish and the desert spread over the table. And that's it. Blame it on the small portions, but unless I consult the "diploma" you receive after dinner, there is not really one dish that I comes to mind, even from the ones I liked.

I was glad I experienced this, but I would not come back here, a general feeling shared with my friends. And at nearly $600 per head, I can't stop thinking that I spent about the same on a luxury ski hotel over Thanksgiving, which makes this a poor return on my investment. All in all, this is certainly an out of the ordinary experience if you can afford it, and a standout if you are really into this sort of molecular cuisine. I just have been to quite a few great restaurants, with and without Michelin stars, whose "traditional" food appeals so much more to me.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
11 Thank Lune14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Westmont, Illinois
Level Contributor
14 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Lots of circus, not enough flavor”
Reviewed February 9, 2013

First, I want to say how much I wanted to love this experience, especially considering the cost which was more than $1100 for the two of us, my husband and me. We had the tasting menu with wine pairings; that price includes tax, and tip. The pluses were ambience, service, aesthetics, and creativity, the latter almost justifying the cost, but only almost. I was so disappointed that none of the many, many bites I took had a wow factor. The way in which we were instructed to take each bite was interesting and fun, but the flavor just wasn't there and at times was even off-putting. My husband had the same opinion, so it's not the case that my palate was just having an off night. We have had fabulous meals at so many less-well-rated and regarded restaurants. I cannot recommend.

  • Visited January 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
7 Thank SDKA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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