It felt like we won the lottery … The list to get into Grant Achatz’s Alinea is a popular one, and I wasn’t sure if it would happen for me. Alinea has been on my bucket list for years. The restaurant is Chicago’s only 3 star Michelin restaurant, rated 7th best in the World, and the James Beard Award for Best Service in the United States. Alinea Chicago, which has been open since 2005, is undergoing a huge renovation so the Alinea team has been on the road, first to Madrid and now for a month in Miami at the Faena Hotel for 40 unique services combined.
The day the tickets went on sale online, they sold out immediately. I said I would take any day or time … And I waited … Then it happened! At the end of February I got the email! They had added an additional day and 9:30 was available. I couldn’t confirm fast enough.
I am not accustomed to eating 18 courses at that hour but I managed it.
The menu had some of the Chef’s greatest hits from his Chicago restaurant as well as dishes inspired by Central and South America. It was an over-the-top multi-course tasting menu which we paired with reserve wines.
Chef Achatz pushes the way we eat food via modernist cooking.
I had been hoping for a few of the dishes I had read about and he did deliver them, like the “Hot Potato, Cold Potato” and his amazing “Black Truffle Explosion”, as well as, his “Bacon Trapeze”. I also was in awe over his “Edible Balloon”, a green taffy apple dessert infused with helium, where all parts of the balloon were to be eaten. He also takes inspiration from local flavours.
I likened the dinner to performance art. It was innovation at the highest level, and a science project all rolled into one. Some of the dishes were interactive, and really quite astounding – I don’t want to give away the surprises, so I’ll stop there …
Each wine pairing was explained in detail and went beautifully with the theme of each dish.
This evening demands an adventurous spirit, it is not for everybody. It also demands a serious commitment of time and money. Our dinner was about a 3 1/2 hour affair.
It was expensive but it was a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed if you are a true food lover. Some of the dishes were one bite and some were up to 4 bites. His dishes were a symphony of flavours, tastes, textures and colours. Some of the food literally burst in your mouth and each bite packs a punch.
We met and spoke with Chef Achatz. He is a reserved, shy but serious young man. The Chicago restaurant will be reopening entirely new in April. If you can secure a reservation, you won’t regret it. It truly is a memorable experience not to be missed.
For me, personally, it was a phenomenal food experience. A well conceived and show-stopping menu, the dishes are beautiful, yet experimental, complex and labour intensive, each executed with precision.