Tasty Hobby

Because food matters

Alinea Review

I’ve been thinking about what should be on my bucket list and haven’t made much progress, but I am able to add (and cross off) dining at North America’s top restaurant.  It was a confusing experience, though.  I really enjoyed myself, but I was also disappointed, and not just because I left hungry.

Maybe my expectations were too high.  I expected to be absolutely wowed with every bite and I certainly was wowed with some of the bites.  However, there usually wasn’t enough in the course to have a second taste.  I believe the chef’s philosophy is that after a few bites of something, your taste buds adjust and you don’t experience the rest of the dish the same way as the beginning.  Regardless, I would have been happier with fewer courses and larger dishes.

Many people have a hard time getting reservations at Alinea.  I’ve read stories about people using four phone lines and spending an hour hitting redial to get through.  Since I was going to Chicago for business, Alinea reservations were a nice-to-have, but not the reason for my trip.  I decided to leave a voicemail on a Sunday afternoon, three weeks before my trip.  Two days later, I got a call back saying that they had a table for me, but needed to talk to me to confirm it.  I didn’t feel the phone buzz, so it went to voicemail and I spent the next 10 minutes hitting redial until I got through.  I didn’t hesitate when she mentioned the table for two would be at 9:30 on Thursday night.  I just hoped my computer class on Friday would be an easy one.

I had done enough research to know the restaurant doesn’t have a sign out front, just the building number (1723).  Thanks to Google street view, I knew exactly where we were going.

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Alinea Menu

Here’s a teaser…Alinea Menu.  The size of the circle represents the relative size of the dish.  For reference, the Oyster Leaf through Woolly Pig were each one bite.  The direction left/right indicates the level of savory or sweet in the dish.

More details to come.