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“Unsurpassed perfection”
Review of Alinea

Ranked #1 of 9,525 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
Basking Ridge, New Jersey
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Unsurpassed perfection”
Reviewed March 9, 2011

There are no words to adequately describe the Alinea experience. I would give it 10 stars if I could. The techniques are mind-blowing, yet the taste of the food is the top priority. The cuisine is the most luscious one could taste, yet it's also so much more than a restaurant - it's a science exhibit, an art gallery, and a culinary theatre. It almost goes without saying that they have perfected the art of service as well. I can't say enough wonderful things, and I would love to return someday.

Visited June 2010
1 Thank marinermikis
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

Visitor rating
Rating summary
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
Ottawa, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed February 6, 2011

I've experienced "molecular cooking" before and have been less than impressed. It always seemed to be more about the technique than the final product. Not so here. Each dish was a stand alone crreation that stood on its merits as food. The cooking tricks were plentiful but never overshadowed the end product. All the staff were very well briefed on the dishes, right down to the bussing staff. The atmosphere is quiet and unrushed. It isn't cheap. But skip a meal and spend the money here for a rare experience.

  • Visited February 2011
    • Value
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    • Food
1 Thank WorldDom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
24 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Wonderful Theatre”
Reviewed January 1, 2011

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Alinea and had a magnificent experience. We decided to do the wine pairing as for us this would probably be a one off experience and if you are doing it do it properly. I had forgotten about the wine pairing upsell until I read some reviews and I agree, it feels like a cheap shot! (or expensive one). Yes pricey menu, I buy it, OK pricey wine pairing, in for a penny, in for a pound, go ahead, but a couple of courses in telling me I have bought the Ford Focus of wine pairings when I could have the Cadillac is a bit off.
That being said the food was outstanding, the food was impeccable and incredible and would recommend it as an experience to anyone

    • Value
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1 Thank dfvt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Naperville, Illinois
Level Contributor
76 reviews
45 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 122 helpful votes
“experience of a lifetime”
Reviewed December 21, 2010

When we had made the reservation for our party of 6 two months in advance and I had to wait for 45 minutes while the CIRCUITS WERE BUSY at 10 am the first of october, I must
admit I was worried that ALINEA would not live up to expectations.

Alinea is nirvana for foodies.
I was very happy to pay the bill. Actually I think the restaurant is a great value when you think that you will be dining at the number one restaurant in north america and number seven in the entire world. CHEF GRANT is A GENIUS...!!!
Decor: minimalist with beautiful art work and modern but comfortable furnishings
Service: wonderful staff always happy to accomodate and make the experience
Atmosphere: relaxed inspite of being in such an elegant atmosphere
Food: You will introduced to beautiful presentations. Your taste buds will
be awakened to many new sensations. Every course is visually stunning.
For five hours you are in shock and awe and realize this could be a once in a lifetime experience. When the meal ended, I was sad but so very grateful to have sampled
the work of a culinary genius,
You must come to alinea with an open mind.
Leave time constraints and financial worries at the door.
Prepare your senses sight smell and most importantly taste
....they will never be the same!!!!!!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank napervilletraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
the district
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Great Restaurant, Bizarre Reviews”
Reviewed December 19, 2010

I have eaten at Alinea and thought the whole experience was fabulous, and Michelin recently gave it three stars, but some of the reviews on TripAdvisor are rather bizarre, and I am going to review the restaurant as a counterpoint to some of the bad reviews that baffle me.

1. Service. The service is very efficient and excellent and they maintain a good space so they don't bother you too much. Sure, they are not over smiley and nor do they give that fake 'hospitality' that so many restaurants offer. If you like that insincere 'smile' service, then this place might disappoint. The waiters wear suits and it fits (IMO), but the minimalist decor and efficient service may seem 'cold' to some. In 2010 Alinea received a James Beard Award for Service. I personally would trust Michelin, James Beard, and professional reviewers by the hundreds rather than the handful of Trip 'Advisors' who think this place has bad service. I have eaten at many Michelin-starred restaurant in the US and in Europe, and Alinea has great service.

2. Small Bites. Yes, the bites are small, BUT I ordered the smaller tasting menu and I was stuffed afterwards. If you are the type who likes large portions, this place might disappoint. If you are someone who hates restaurants giving too large of portions so you can't enjoy later dishes, then you will probably like it. I am a normal weight person that likes more European-sized portions. Some of the bites were so flavorful that more of it would have been too much actually.

3. Decor. The decor was not cheap; it was minimalist but yet dark and warm. If you want to see some pictures, search the web instead of listening to particular tastes on this site. My wife laughed when I said reviewers complained about the decor. Here is one site with photos:

4. Wine. I will agree that the wine pairing was expensive, buy the pairing I had was astounding. I even tried finding some of the wines to buy afterwards, and I couldn't find some of them for sale in my area or online. I just checked the wine pairing from the menu I had and referenced CellarTracker to see what others thought about the wines. 2 of the 8 had high 80s/low 90s. 2 more were solid low 90s. And the other four got very high mid-90s ratings. The wine pairing was very, very good. I didn't use the sommelier because we got the pairing, so I can't evaluate the sommelier. For the person, who said he could buy the wine at his corner store, this is not an accurate description of their wine.

5. Price. Yes, it was very expensive. And if you like this type of molecular, minimalist gastronomy then it will be a better value. If you don't care for this type of fare and want larger portions then it will be less of a value. It is all relative based upon your eating style and expectations -- but it is truly expensive. Before spending the dough on this place, seriously look at what you like in terms of dining.

Lastly, I must say that some of the very negative reviews appear to come from self-appointed food critics that love to just say things for the sake of saying them. The reviewer who compares Alinea to Noma and says it didn't integrate Chicago's design history. Seriously? Others say they would come back if the suits fit better? Anyhow, a lot of the reviews rated average and below are quirky to say the least and reflect very personal (and strong) tastes. Also, check out those reviewers past reviews. You just might find that they rated a hotel buffet 5 stars.

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    • Food
7 Thank ruralman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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