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BryanZ

[CHI] Alinea – Grant Achatz – Reviews & Discussion (Part 2)

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On the note about it being awkward.. I have to disagree. I really don't see what the awkardness about eating something by only using your mouth. What I find awkward is trying to pick something extremely small and slippery with a knife and fork. What's more comforting than food on a stick? In my opinion, Alinea just put fine dining on a the easiest thing to eat off of. If the wire is too far away from you forcing you to lean forward so much that you are uncomfortable than I reccommend moving the base of the wire closer to you and eat the one biter.

Yes, unless one's height relative to the table is such one is then performing a bizarro mix of a Laurie Anderson piece and the mating dance of the Blue Footed Boobie as one bobs one's head about and tries to judge height and distance and angle to get it right. I believe we'll simply have to agree to disagree; you may not find it awkward, I find having to angle myself at such a cant that my boss can tell what style of bra I'm wearing to be awkward in the old-fashioned sense of the word. For that matter, had it been my father in law, uncles, or heaven forfend grandfather, it would have been equally awkward.

I would have requested the server to do something to fit your handicap. No different from someone asking for "training" chopsticks at the sushi joint...if you couldn't pick up the base or if it was just THAT bad.

EDITED to fit with Docconz reply.


Edited by JWest (log)

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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I never said it was difficult, just unappealing.

I'll have to agree here with snekse... It's not that it's difficult, and it's not that it's not novel or innovative (?), rather, I just find it awkward. That's just me.

u.e.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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while I didn't have that particular item I did have the zucchini bread with anjelica branch on the stem that looked just as precious and while it may been...akward, for lack of a better word. At the same time said two items wouldn't have looked as ostentatious on a plate.


www.adrianvasquez.net

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Maybe it's quite different when you are with people that you can't be "too" comfortable with. If I were with my close friends dining at Alinea it would be way different than me eating with business co workers much less bosses. So with that said, I think the situation that you are in has a huge role in how your dining experience is.

I truely feel that if you step out of reality for just one night and let things flow as if you were in a dream things would not be as "awkward" as it may seem. (of course taking the whole revealing situation out of play)

Just taking two seconds to relax, not worrying about your surroundings, and letting the service piece feed you the way it should then I think the whole experience is a much better one. But if you start to over anaylize the course and not take it for what it is then you lose sight of what the whole meaning of the dish is about.

I see many people get frustrated, worried, and shaky about using chopsticks. They would call it awkward and wonder why we don't just eat with forks and knives. Of course the reason being, we don't want to pierce the food and ruin the integrity of the dish. The "Antenna" allows air to flow all around the food item preventing it from getting soggy on the bottom, bruised, or mis shaped. With this, it gives life to the whole idea of dining and for five seconds it gives you a chance to break away from the structured dining ideals that most of has have been trapped under and enjoy your self. So, maybe one day The Antenna will be used as a normal item just like chopsticks are throughout American-Asian Restaurants.

Of course, what Chicagowench went through is concerning and sounds like an issue that would be taken seriously.


Edited by JWest (log)

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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I just received the fall catalogue from J.B. Prince and noticed a few Alinea serving pieces in there including the wine cork presenter, "Eye", Alinea pin, "Squid", "Squid" Trivet and "Sectional." :cool:


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Great! I can maim myself and flash my husband in the privacy of our own home now!

Aw dang, the dangly wire one isn't in there, and Squid's so much easier to eat from. Rats.


What do you mean I shouldn't feed the baby sushi?

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Some well-deserved honors for Alinea. It's just been named the #1 Restaurant in America by Gourmet Magazine:

Alinea has been selected as the best of the best by Gourmet magazine. The October 2006 “Restaurant Issue” names the top 50 U.S. restaurants and Alinea, led by Chef/Owner Grant Achatz, garners the top prize. “This is an incredible honor, and something that we – the kitchen staff, service team, my business partner and I - have worked towards since day one. As a team, we are thrilled and personally, it’s a dream come true,” states Achatz. Gourmet compiles this list but once every five years after an exhaustive national restaurant search . . .

. . . A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Achatz worked at several prestigious restaurants, the most notable being the acclaimed French Laundry. After four years, he chose to complement his culinary education and began working as a winemaker at La Jota Vineyards and in 2001, accepted the Executive Chef position at the four-star Trio (Evanston, Il.). Achatz found fertile ground in the Midwest and after flourishing at Trio, he felt Chicago was ripe for realizing his vision of not only owning and operating his first restaurant but making that restaurant the best in the country. . .

Congrats to chefg, Nick and the entire team at Alinea!

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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My issue of Gourmet showed up today:

1. Alinea

In the 1970's and '80's, young chefs and restauranteurs redefined the American restaurant for a new audience. Wolfgang Puck gave Los Angeles the dazzlingly casual celebrity spot, and Alice Waters put the focus on producers when she created her ingredient driven restaurant, Chez Panisse. In New York, Danny Meyer was reinventing business dining for people who wanted satisfying food without pretense, and in Boston Lydia Shire was playing with cross cultural cooking long before it was chic. It's hearting to note that decades later, these standard-bearers march on, their flags flying high.

Meanwhile, someone new has entered the arena. His name is Grant Achatz, and he is redefining the American restaurant once again for an entirely new generation. And that-more than his gorgeous, inventive, and delicious food-is what makes Alinea the got-to –go-to restaurant in the country right now.

Achatz has pulled apart the entire experience of going out to eatand reassembled it in a very new way. Walking in, you find yourself staring into a huge kitchen that seems cool, clean, stunningly calm. Stroll through the dining room and you find that your table is naked, the black wood a stage, bare of so much as a tablecloth or piece of cutlery.

Then the curtain goes up, and the fireworks begin. This is dining as performance art, and each tiny interactive dish teases, astonishes, delights. You pull out a pin and watch a little puff of cheesy hot potato drop into a tiny curved cuplet of soup that you slurp as if it were an oyster. A single perfect bite of lamb comes buried in smoldering eucalyptus leaves. A tiny ravioli is filled with the intensity of liquid truffle; it is almost impossible not to exclaim as it bursts inside your mouth. As you do, the servers smile, pleased by your pleasure; they too are participants in the experience, and they are there to help you enjoy the meal. Because it is all about you-not once will you be told what the chef wants you to do.

Achatz clearly thinks about cooking in a different way. Chefs like Thomas Keller (with whom he once worked; see number 3 below) strive to perfect a dish, and then they never change it. Once Achatz perfects a dish, he drops it and moves on to the next challenge. Alinea is in perpetual motion; having eaten here once, you can't wait to come back, and see what Achatz will come up with next.

Congrats, again, to the entire team at Alinea!

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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I would also like to send my congratulations. Alinea definitely deserves such recognition. I really look forward to returning someday. Its been more than 6 months now since my experience and I still find myself thinking about that meal.

I just subscribed to gourmet last week and am not sure I will receive the october issue as my first issue. Does anyone have a link to the list of the other restaurants as well? Thanks.

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I cant agree more, Congratulations!

definatly the best meal I've had ever, it's only been a little over a month but I cant wait to go back.


Kevin J. Adey

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I just received my copy of Gourmet today. Congratulations to Chef Achatz and his team. FWIW, Alinea is no. 1 on my list too.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Chef Grant Achatz (and Ruth Reichl) were on The Today Show this morning. It would have been nice if someone at NBC had learned how to pronounce Alinea but it was still a fun segment to watch. Interestingly, a few recipes appear as well.

=R=


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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A little late, but wanted to add my congrats to ChefG and his team on a well deserved honor!

Keep up the great work - and I'm sure this is just the beginning!

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My congratulations as well. I was so disappointed that I had to cancel a reservation last week because my trip to Chicago was cancelled. Not sure when I'm going to be able to make it out there again but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

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At long last I have made it Alinea! It was definitely worth the wait. It's going to take me a while to get pictures uploaded and a report written, but I wanted to chime in while it was all still fresh to say - wow! Very fun. Our captain and all our servers put up with our silly antics quite well. We liked the black truffle explosion so much that we jokingly asked for another. And 8 or 10 minutes later, what should appear at our table but another round! Awesome. Our sommelier, Scott, was great. The wine pairings were all that was promised here and more - there was absolutely marvelous matches. And the food was wonderful - there were some things I didn't like as much as others, but there was not a clunker in the bunch. And to top it off we had a nice chat with Chef Achatz in the kitchen on our way out - I was impressed that he remember me from my kitchen table trip to Trio two years ago, but I suppose we were awfully rowdy...


Edited by tammylc (log)

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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At long last I have made it Alinea!  It was definitely worth the wait.  It's going to take me a while to get pictures uploaded and a report written, but I wanted to chime in while it was all still fresh to say - wow!  Very fun.  Our captain and all our servers put up with our silly antics quite well.  We liked the black truffle explosion so much that we jokingly asked for another.  And 8 or 10 minutes later, what should appear at our table but another round!  Awesome.  Our sommelier, Scott, was great.  The wine pairings were all that was promised here and more - there was absolutely marvelous matches.  And the food was wonderful - there were some things I didn't like as much as others, but there was not a clunker in the bunch.  And to top it off we had a nice chat with Chef Achatz in the kitchen on our way out - I was impressed that he remember me from my kitchen table trip to Trio two years ago, but I suppose we were awfully rowdy...

Tammy,

When you begin to write your report on your recent visit to Alinea can you compare and contrast the Black Truffle Explosion that you had at Alinea with the one served at Trio. Of course, I am assuming that you actually had the Explosion during your visit to Trio. I would find it interesting to read how the Alinea team changed the dish.

It is in these particularities that I find most interesting about Alinea. Their creative progressiveness is admirable.

Thanks,


Edited by Lactic Solar Dust (log)

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Tammy,

When you begin to write your report on your recent visit to Alinea can you compare and contrast the Black Truffle Explosion that you had at Alinea with the one served at Trio.  Of course, I am assuming that you actually had the Explosion during your visit to Trio.  I would find it interesting to read how the Alinea team changed the dish.

It is in these particularities that I find most interesting about Alinea.  Their creative progressiveness is admirable.

Thanks,

From our conversation with one of our waiters, when they originally brought the black truffle explosion back for the first anniversary dinner, it was exactly the same as it had been at Trio. But on this pass they had made a small change, which was substituting wilted romaine for the broccoli puree. We liked this a lot more and thought it was an excellent substitution.

I don't know if anyone's linked to this yet, but there's a brief interview with chefg over on Hungry Magazine, talking about his decision to bring back some previous hits as encores on the regular menu. It takes about 5 minutes to listen to. Basically, he talks about how with the restaurant being so busy lately, they don't have time to experiment, so adding some tried and trues back into the rotation is one way to free up some time to do that. Makes sense.

There were a few blasts from the past on our menu last night - hot potato cold potato, and the butterscotch bacon were the others. Since it was my first visit to Alinea, I was happy to have them there!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Menu and pictures. Porn now, commentary later.

Wine for the first two courses (upgraded pairing) was Nicolas Feuillate Brut Rose "Palmes d'Or" Epernay 1997

Hot Potato, cold potato, black truffle, butter

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_9676.jpg" title="" >

King Crab, vinegar, aromatics

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_29842.jpg" title="" >

Trout Roe, cucumber, coconut, bonito

Naiades Verdejo, Rueda, Spain 2004

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_15680.jpg" title="" >

Akayagara, radish, coriander, poppyseed

Matsutake, mango, peanut, yuzu glass

Pra Soave Classico, "Monte Grande," Veneto 2003

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_3224.jpg" title="" >

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_36234.jpg" title="" >

Rabbit, cider, roasted garlic, smell of burning leaves

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_10484.jpg" title="" >

Peach, smoked paprika, carrot

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_6386.jpg" title="" >

Kobe Short Rib, beets, cranberry, campari

Cabanon Bonarda "Boisee," Oltrepo Pavese, Italy 2003

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_9005.jpg" title="" >

Black Truffle, explosion, romaine, parmesan

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_24353.jpg" title="" >

Black Truffle, explosion, romaine, parmesan

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_24353.jpg" title="" >

(No it's not an accident I'm including the same photo twice. They were nice enough to bring us another...)

Squab, huckleberry, sorrel, long peppercorn

Hermitage "Cuvee Emilie," Domaine des Remizieres, Rhone 2002

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_16691.jpg" title="" >

Concord Grape, frozen and chewy

Chestnut, blis maple syrup

Crabapple, cheddar, eucalyptus, olive oil

Pfeffingen Ungsteiner Herrenberg Scheurebe Spatlese, Pfalz 2003

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_34132.jpg" title="" >

Quince, prosciutto, orange, juniper

Shellfish, gooseberries, horseradish, celery ice

Raventos i Blanc "Perfum de Vi Blanc" Pendes Spain 2004

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_41211.jpg" title="" >

Hamachi, buttermilk, blackberry, green peanuts

F.X. Pichler "Loibner Berg" Riesling Smaragd, Wachau, Austria 2003

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_14207.jpg" title="" >

Bacon, butterscotch, apple, thyme

Lamb, date, mastic, rosemary aroma

Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, S. Rhone 2000

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_40085.jpg" title="" >

Bison, gruyere, pumpernickel, ramps

Bodega Mustiguillo "Quincha Corral" El Terrerazo Spain 2003

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_4539.jpg" title="" >

Raspberry, goat milk, red pepper taffy, pistachio

Malvira Birbet (Brachetto), Langhe, Italy

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161300941/gallery_7436_3762_11984.jpg" title="" >

Licorice Cake, spiced with hoja santa leaves

Tamellini Recioto di Soave "Vigna Marogne" Veneto 2000

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_25714.jpg" title="" >

Chocolate, bergamot, cassia, figs

De Bartoli "Bukkuram," Moscato Passito di Pantelleria 2001

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_15034.jpg" title="" >

Caramel, meyer lemon, cinnamon perfume

<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1161261524/gallery_7436_3762_4870.jpg" title="" >


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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tammylc. Wonderful photos! Some of those dishes make me really want to return to Alinea - like the "Lamb, mastic, etc...," "Trout Roe, cucumber, etc...," and that "King Crab" - so gorgeous!! Oh, and that "Hamachi!" I can't wait to hear what you thought of each course.

Also, that "Matsutake" course - there's a glass, and then it's gone in the next photo. Did the server remove it, leaving the food in a still-composed stack? 'Splain please... I know, I know, first the porn, then the review... just so intrigued...

Thanks!!


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Thanks. My friend took the photos, as his camera was better than mine at working in the low light conditions with no flash. Also, I found that I couldn't do it all - take pictures, notes, and pay attention to the food, so I was ready to abandon the photographs anyway. We're both pleased they turned out so well! Wish I could say the same of our Schwa photos, although I'm still hoping that I can Photoshop them into something better than they are currently.

Anyway, as to your question - the glass is actually a tube. It gets lifted up at the table.

More later.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Nice job, Tammy! Good to see that Chef Achatz' creative spark hasn't ebbed. The vast majority of those dishes are new or different from my last trip to Alinea in June. The plating is typically spectacular. I'm sure the tastes are too.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I thoroughly enjoyed essentially the same meal about a week earlier than Tammy. I emailed Ronnie Suburban when I learned I was coming to Chicago; he brought together several veterans to join my brother and me. Thanks again, Ron.

We were warmly greeted and visited the kitchen to meet Chef Achatz before we started. Service was impeccable while the food was extraordinary. The filmstrips here are great to see, but there's nothing like tasting in real time. (It was a lot of time, but it didn't seem so.) The presentation adds to the wow, but the proof was in my mouth. Not all of the twenty four tastes made my all-time top ten list (duh!), but almost every one deserved consideration. I thought the finish, from the hamachi thru the desserts, was particularly strong. That's no easy feat due to the bar set by the earlier dishes and the hour.


Charlie, the Main Line Mummer

We must eat; we should eat well.

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I thoroughly enjoyed essentially the same meal about a week earlier than Tammy.  I emailed Ronnie Suburban when I learned I was coming to Chicago; he brought together several veterans to join my brother and me.  Thanks again, Ron.

He was there again! :raz: I'm just jealous.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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