Alinea Review

The courses (and my rating of each one)

Steelhead Roe

Steelhead Roe - coconut, carrot, curry (7/10). I don't remember ever having such fresh coconut.

    • Shellfish –
      • Oyster leaf – mignonette [vinegar and pepper] (4/10)
        • I haven’t had enough oysters to remember what they taste like, but apparently they taste just like this leaf.
      • King crab – passionfruit, heart of palm, allspice (4/10)
        • I love crab and was really looking forward to this dish.  Unfortunately, it was just one bite and there were too many garnishes, which overpowered the crab.
      • Mussel – saffron, chorizo, oregano (3/10)
        • This had a black shell, that’s all I can remember
      • Razor clam – shiso, soy, daikon (3/10)
        • I think this had a mild chili or bbq sauce
    • Woolly Pig – fennel, orange, squid (2/10)
      • This was served on the antenna.  No hands or silverware allowed.  It’s one bite, suspended on a metal prong.  You’re supposed to lean in and eat it off the prong.  This was Kip’s favorite dish, but that may have been because it looked like a miniature dragon.  I was busy trying not to think about the fact that it looked like a whole squid, but only 1.5” long.  I didn’t realize until later that there was ham on this.  I couldn’t taste it.
    • Scallop – acting like agedashi tofu (7/10)
      • The scallop is pureed and turned into a spongy foam, so it tasted like a scallop, but with the consistency close to angel food cake.  The broth was brewed at table, starting during an earlier course.  A small amount of the broth was poured over the dish and the rest was served in little cups like sake would be served.
      • I’ll apologize in advance if this is too much information, but soft foods can sometimes trigger my gag reflex.  I was starting to get nervous because the roe, clam, mussel, and scallop were all very soft textures, but I shouldn’t have worried…yet.
    • Ice – beet, hibiscus, licorice (1/10)
      • When we first arrived at our table, there was a tray, lined with rocks, and a chunk of ice (12” tall, 8” wide, 4” thick).  I had read that Alinea doesn’t use centerpieces and anything on the table will be used as part of a later course.  I didn’t realize right away that there were two dark purple marks in the ice.  Kip could see that there were holes drilled into the ice, but that probably didn’t make it any less mysterious.  We were given large diameter straws and told to pass the tray back and forth as needed to sip the juice out of the ice.  I believe we were told it was beet juice with hibiscus and licorice.  Up until this point, I thought I didn’t like beets and had avoided them.  I decided that since I was at Alinea, I would trust the chef and try everything as it was intended.  I was able to confirm that I don’t like beets.  I figure that if I don’t like beets at North America’s top restaurant, I probably won’t like beets anywhere.
    • Burn Morels – ramp, fiddlehead fern, miner’s lettuce (7/10)
      • When there are forest fires in the Pacific Northwest, foragers will note the areas and then go out one year later to collect mushrooms that have sprung up.  This dish had 3-4 morels, two shavings of ham, and some sauces all served on stones
      • If you have issues with soft textured food, don’t eat quail eggs that are cooked soft.  I narrowly avoided a very embarrassing situation, which might explain why I didn’t taste much of the next dish
Hot Potato

Hot Potato - cold potato, black truffle, butter (8/10)

    • I really wish I could have had another two or three servings of this.  It’s cold potato soup served in a paraffin wax bowl (which I believe are hand made by the kitchen team).  There’s a metal pin through the wax and it suspends pieces of butter, parmesan, chive, a ball of hot potato, and a slice of truffle over the cold soup.  The instructions are to quickly (before the potato cools down) pull the pin to drop the pieces into the soup and then down it like a shot.  It happened much too fast for me to really enjoy.  In retrospect, I suppose that was at least half my fault, though.  Just because I was supposed to put it in my mouth quickly didn’t mean I needed to swallow it quickly.  I had anticipated this course being on the menu and planned to break off a little piece of truffle to taste by itself.  It didn’t work out that way, though, because I got caught up in the experience and went along with the server’s instructions.
    • Lamb – 60 garnishes (8/10)
      • This dish had the second best crouton I’ve ever had.  I should have asked for a second crouton for Kip.  The best crouton I’ve ever had was at Webster’s, this was #2, which means that The Ranch dropped to 3rd place.
      • I asked what the garnishes were, and was told to ‘shop with your eyes’.  I did manage to find out that the tiny cubes were beets.  I told him that was good to know, since I didn’t like beets.  He smiled and asked how I did with the Ice dish and smiled more when I explained that’s how I know I don’t like beets.
      • I was able to figure out some of the garnishes.  Smoked salt, dried apricot, dried fig, blackberry, walnut with some gooey sauce on it, saffron aioli, rhubarb, gingerbread, rolled oats, and the crouton are the ones I remember, after looking back at the picture.  The piece that looks like chalk was probably some sort of cheese.
      • The lamb was very tasty, but I wish I had known what the garnishes were.  For all I know, there was something exotic (like caviar) on the tray and I missed a chance to try it.

Black Truffle - explosion, romaine, parmesan (8/10)

    • This dish is served on an antiplate.  The spoon rests inside the edge, and there is no bottom.  The dark area you see under the spoon is the table.  I believe they take truffle broth, form it into a gelled ball, and wrap pasta dough around it to create a ravioli.  When it’s boiled, the gel melts, which requires you to eat it in one bite.  Again, I anticipated this dish being on the menu and was looking forward to the truffle experience.  I don’t remember much of the truffle flavor, though.  I remember more about the pasta texture and the flavor of the parmesan garnish.

Squab – inspired by Joan Miro, a Spanish artist (10/10)

    • Before this dish is served, the server sprays your table and wipes it off to sanitize it.  This is because there isn’t a plate for this dish.  Nine spoons/forks are laid in front of you in random order.  I asked the server if he has to remind himself to do it different each time, but he said it wasn’t a problem.  There’s a container in the middle of the table that has lavender in it, so you get the aroma while you eat.  As you finishe each bite, you put the utinsel into the container.  I saved the bite of meat for last.  It was amazing.  I thought it was beef, and asked what kind.  I was mildly embarrassed when I found out it was squab, since I remembered squab being listed on the sample menu.
Anjou Pear

Anjou Pear - onion, brie, smoking cinnamon (3/10)

    • This is served skewered on a smoldering cinnamon stick, to provide a complementary aroma.  The server recommended that we eat it in just one bite, saying that the tempura batter made it look bigger than it really was.  I would suggest taking it in two bites; it was really too large for one bite.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

3 Comments to “Alinea Review”

  1. Sharyn says:

    Very impresed with your description of each sample of food. I think I will need to live this experience vicariously through your detailed descriptions.
    Looking forward to gelatto at the end of May.


  2. Becky says:

    What a bizarre façade for a restaurant! I’m glad you liked the food, even though it was scant.

  3. Jane Hackenberg says:

    When we were in New Orleans we ate at the French Quarter and that restaurant also gave little bitty portions for a big price. We were unhappy but we did have the experience of eating in that fancy place. So some restaurants are not about the quantity of food. Which still boggles my mind and stomach!

Leave a Reply to Sharyn