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“Unimaginable”
Review of Alinea

Alinea
Ranked #1 of 9,548 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
Davenport, IA
Level Contributor
24 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Unimaginable”
Reviewed July 13, 2013

Lives up to the hype...but doesn't come cheap. Wife and I visited Next a few months ago and were blown away, so we decided to go crazy and try Alinea. Bro and sis-in-laws joined. Overall, spectacular. Yeah, the restaurant's not labeled, but that's on purpose. This is not your parent's fancy restaurant. Entryway was very unique, totally unexpected. Same goes for the elevator door that opens up to the restaurant. Look to the right and you'll see the kitchen and the army of chefs laboring away! Service, food, quality, originality, overall experience were top shelf all the way. We considered this a fairly rare dining opportunity, so we went with the reserve pairing ($250/per...standard pairing is $150/per), and were not disappointed (although, we would have probably been happy with the standard pairing). If you can get tickets and foot the bill, I wouldn't hesitate to go. I will be back.

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank BooCo
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
Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
213 reviews
165 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 94 helpful votes
“Excellent meal, but you better have deep pockets.”
Reviewed June 15, 2013

We were finally able to score a table here after hearing about the reputation that Chef Achatz made for himself. We enjoy dining at nice establishments and have been to many in New York, Las Vegas, and Chicago. I considered Alinea the crème de la crème of molecular gastronomy and could not wait to try this place.

After experiencing our meal here I would have to say that this is surely a once in a lifetime experience. I say this in a positive and negative way. The experience you will have here is like no other but it does come with a hefty price, that many will likely not be able to repeat. Hence, the once in a lifetime phrase.

The restaurant is not very well labeled and you could easily miss it if you didn't know where you were going. When we arrived there were two people out front acting as host and hostess to confirm your reservation, and likely to tell someone on the inside of your arrival via Ipad. She then asked us to enter through a door and down a small corridor lined with flowers contained in small vases. Some of these flowers were made from paper towels and contained a small bite of cotton candy. You then walked down the corridor until you come upon a Star Trek type door opens up leading you into the restaurant.

You are then led to your table where you are greeted by your server to take your drink order and offer you wine pairing, a regular pairing and a reserve pairing. I won't get into the dishes because there are just too many to name but you can be sure that they are each well thought out and presented. Our only problem with the dishes is that some lacked a little with flavor. I was thinking if there was too much thought that went into the presentation of the dishes at the expense of taste. Given the amount of money the meal costs, I expect that this should have been perfected and expect to be blown away with presentation as well as taste. The meal takes a good 2.5-3 hours so don't plan much afterwards. The dessert at the end was also a nice unique way to end the night and made you feel like a kid again.

Chef Achatz was not there the night we were and was at their sister restaurant Next. Not sure if this has anything to do with the quality of the food that evening. All in all it was an experience to be had and I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience it but given the hefty price, I'm not sure if we will be making a repeat appearance.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
4 Thank acwong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Schaumburg, Illinois
Level Contributor
99 reviews
69 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Fun with Science”
Reviewed June 13, 2013

The food quality and preparation are what one would expect from a restaurant with this lofty a reputation. My favorite dishes were the tender, flavorful veal cheeks paired with pureed white and green asparagus and the five preparations of duck presented with 60 (!!!) different accompaniments. The only dishes that could have been better were the too-dry smoked kampachi and the five preparations of ginger with not enough difference between the five. The presentations are more unexpected, but, for the most part, entertaining or beautiful. The seafood course of scallop, kampachi, monchong, prawn, shrimp head (yes, HEAD ... it was delicious!), ehu and pineapple looked like a tropical science experiment with sugar cane, banana leaves and beakers. The aforementioned 60 duck accompaniments were presented like a collection of jewels or a display out of National Geographic. The most fun course was a helium-filler green apple balloon! The service was excellent and not stuffy. Overall, a very enjoyable evening. The only big flaw is the horrible ticket system. I wish we could have just called for reservations.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Mark M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
La Jolla, California
Level Contributor
8 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 286 helpful votes
“Alinea- You broke my heart”
Reviewed June 4, 2013

My husband and I made reservations to celebrate our 50th anniversary flying from our home in La Jolla, CA to Chicago for one night only. Due to severe weather our flight was delayed. I called Alinea from the San Diego airport, from the plane when we landed in Chicago and from our cab en route to the restaurant. I told them we were moving heaven and earth to get there as soon as possible. The staff was less than sympathetic and told me the chef was irate that we would request a late arrival. They threatened to cancel our prepaid reservation made two months in advance. When we were within 5 minutes of arriving at the restaurant, they called to tell me they would not honor our reservation even though I told them we would eat quickly or even eat half of the offerings on their tasting menu. In the end we would have arrived one hour late, unfortunate but well within the time that the other diners would still be enjoying their dinners. Alinea may well be one of the best restaurants in the nation but the food they serve lacks one basic ingredient--heart.

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
257 Thank Peggy C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
78 reviews
59 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
“Excellent food amidst, at times, contrived presentations”
Reviewed May 26, 2013

Had a great experience at Alinea: the food is consistently good and the flavors are striking and original. An extraordinary combination of smooth textures with crunchy backgrounds. All in all highly recommended. At times though some of the presentations seemed somewhat contrived and especially with the shrimps at the beginning of the magnificent repast it was easy to lose track of what should be done when. But this should not keep you away...on the contrary.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Fernando B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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