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


BryanZ
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...This was when YT made his grand entrance.

Grand entrance, I think not, but thanx anyway. :biggrin:

I think it was Nick who made a grand entrance, as he was a diner that evening, although he was working the floor throughout the evening.

yt:  5 hours and 27 courses later of a NYE dinner and all we get is one picture of Joe?  you've put up some great photos before...are you trying to build anticipation?

Actually it was a 6.25 hour experience. No anticipation building, just working on getting them up to par. As you know, I just don't upload the images, I do a little bit of post production work.

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...This was when YT made his grand entrance.

Grand entrance, I think not, but thanx anyway. :biggrin:

On New Year's Eve, everyone gets a grand entrance.

Edited because I misspelled "grand" and "grant", which actually would have been kind of a funny pun in this case.

Edited by jesteinf (log)

-Josh

Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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...This was when YT made his grand entrance.

Grand entrance, I think not, but thanx anyway. :biggrin:

I think it was Nick who made a grand entrance, as he was a diner that evening, although he was working the floor throughout the evening.

yt:  5 hours and 27 courses later of a NYE dinner and all we get is one picture of Joe?  you've put up some great photos before...are you trying to build anticipation?

Actually it was a 6.25 hour experience. No anticipation building, just working on getting them up to par. As you know, I just don't upload the images, I do a little bit of post production work.

I deny making a grand entrance -- though I did say hi to a few tables of friends.

Now the exit, that is what I am a bit more worried about! Grand it was not... but the celebration that preceded it certainly was.

Thanks to the eGullet community for all of your comments, rants, raves, pans, suggestions, inquiries, pictures and discussions in 2005. By far the most gratifying aspect of working on Alinea with Grant has been to see the reactions of the diners to everything we worked on and all of the creations Grant and the kitchen staff have sent to the dining room. I look forward to seeing you in 2006.

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I'm from New Orleans, where people appreciate good food to a fault but are deeply suspicious of concepts like "molecular gastronomy." We came to Alinea last July with open minds, but fully ready to giggle and/or sneer if the food struck us as gimmicky, pompous, or lacking in substance.

Instead, we had one of the best meals of our life. Two courses -- SQUAB and BACON -- reduced me to tears with their deliciousness and still haunt me at odd moments lo these many eventful months later. After just one meal, I almost feel as if I could identify Chef Grant's "flavor signature" in a blind test, just as I could with those of chefs whose food I've been eating and thinking about for years.

The food at Alinea is not only delicious but also deeply coherent. This is not a young man tossing disparate ingredients together in an attempt to be innovative. He knows exactly what he is doing, and while I found a couple of dishes gimmicky (the famous "PB&J" -- a single peeled grape still on the stem, wrapped in peanut puree and toasted bread -- annoyed me slightly, though it is one of his signature items), overall it was one of the best and most interesting meals we've ever had. Afterward, we were given a tour of the kitchen, which has an orderly, science-lab-ish feel: a far cry from the clanging and hissing and cussing and smoking of just about every other restaurant kitchen I've ever been in. There's only one stove -- four burners -- but any number of fascinating gadgets designed especially for Alinea, such as a "cold plate" that works like a hot griddle, only in reverse, instantly searing things to -50. I certainly wouldn't want every restaurant to be like this -- I like the clanging and hissing and cussing and smoking, and the genius that sometimes emerges from it -- but I'm very glad we experienced this.

Now they just need to start serving liquor, if that hasn't already been taken care of.

:cool:

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Wow, I wish I could make a quick trip to the Heartland from our Wetland (we are currently drenched out here on the westcoast :biggrin: ).

I just watched Chef at Large with Michael Smith featuring Grant Achatz and his creations at Alinea. Oh, my gosh, so interesting and amazing! I'm truly envious of you folks who have had the opportunity to dine there. I googled him and was thrilled to find your posts and photos on eG! Wonderful! :wub: Thank you for sharing. Happy New Year! :smile: (oh and chefg, congratulations, you are truly talented in all respects of cuisine preparation and serving, love the ingenious designs of utensils and dishes as well as the culinary ideas.)

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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After a great number of inquiries from both diners and other restaurants and hotels, we have re-launched Martin Kastner's company Crucial Detail. Currently, the serviceware in Alinea is only available in commercial quantities, but we will be offering some items for individual purchase in the near future. You can see the new Crucial Detail website here.

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After a great number of inquiries from both diners and other restaurants and hotels, we have re-launched Martin Kastner's company Crucial Detail.  Currently, the serviceware in Alinea is only available in commercial quantities, but we will be offering some items for individual purchase in the near future.  You can see the new Crucial Detail website here.

Very nice!

So . . . what's the minimum quantity on the anti-plates? Do I have to order a full pallet? :wink::smile:

=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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After a great number of inquiries from both diners and other restaurants and hotels, we have re-launched Martin Kastner's company Crucial Detail.  Currently, the serviceware in Alinea is only available in commercial quantities, but we will be offering some items for individual purchase in the near future.  You can see the new Crucial Detail website here.

Very nice!

So . . . what's the minimum quantity on the anti-plates? Do I have to order a full pallet? :wink::smile:

=R=

By end of Q2, we will have the anti-plates, pedestals, cork presenter, sugar tongs (not pictured), and perhaps one or two other items available for retail purchase in reasonable quantities (groups of 5 or 6 of the anti-plates and pedestals, 1's of the cork presenter and tongs).

Currently, we are only taking orders for restaurant sized quantities -- minimum of 30-50 per item.

Judging by the number of items that find their way inexplicably into diners' purses and pockets, there seems to be a demand for those cork presenters!

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After a great number of inquiries from both diners and other restaurants and hotels, we have re-launched Martin Kastner's company Crucial Detail.  Currently, the serviceware in Alinea is only available in commercial quantities, but we will be offering some items for individual purchase in the near future.  You can see the new Crucial Detail website here.

Very nice!

So . . . what's the minimum quantity on the anti-plates? Do I have to order a full pallet? :wink::smile:

=R=

Maybe interested eGulleters can split a pallet of them? :biggrin:

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CONTINUOUSLY EVOLVING

Alinea, for its New Year's Eve dinner service was, as jesteinf says, "crazy, over the top." From the time you walk into the restaurant, you notice the changes.

gallery_15603_2329_5288.jpg

First off, the restaurant had two seatings that evening. We arrived at nine, for the second seating (although we were not the last and there were a few more tables that were seated after us) and saw Josh and company at the entryway (waiting for their table). We were seated in the upper level towards the rear of the building. As we climbed the modern-esque, glass (tread and landing) stair case, the space seems a little more airy and open. Upon further inspection we figured out that the full height curtains had been pulled back and tied midway allowing one a better view of the other dining room across the stair case. I enjoyed this new vantage point, but I prefer the curtains set to hang normally because of the cleaner lines that it creates and I think it is more in line with architecture of Alinea.

gallery_15603_2329_10972.jpg

Having just dined at Alinea 2 weeks prior, I was interested in possibly trying out new dishes and experiencing new things, but I came with no expectations. Asides from the more open dining room, another change from the normal menu is a new centerpiece. Gone is the Ohio Honeycomb, but the exotic wood pedestal remains. Now I don't know for what ingredient the pedestal was designed for, but the combination of the translucent light colored honeycomb and the dark heavily grained exotic wood was a nice combination. So in place of the honeycomb, there is what looked to be some sort of petrified rock. Upon closer examination, touching, smelling and asking questions, it was what we feared. A black truffle. Since the chef likes to use the centerpiece as a garnish we were asking ourselves how would the truffle be dealt out? Perhaps one slice with shaver - ehh too boring and predictable. Or perhaps Martin Kastner is going to bring out a new accessory - we like this idea better. Only time will tell.

gallery_15603_2329_22574.jpg

There is only one printed menu for the evening, but our server tells us that the Chef would like to prepare something special. I mean come on, why else did we come here. Bring it on. And the wines too.

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THE MENU - 20051231

1. HOT POTATO cold potato, black truffle, parmesan

2. SALSIFY parsley, smoked salmon, steelhead roe

3. MANGO sesame oil, soy, bonito

4. KING CRAB tropical fruits, rice, vanilla

5. MUSSELS chamomile, cucumber, mint

6. BLACK COD brown butter, lemon, capers

7. PEAR celery leaf & branch, curry

8. BISON persimmon, cranberry, juniper aroma

9. LAMB potato, pistachio, sweet spices

10. IDIAZABAL maple syrup, danish salt

11. PLANTAIN coconut, chicory, litchi

12. MARCONA ALMOND white ale, tonka bean, malt

13. NIÇOISE OLIVE olive oil, saffron, cherry

14. YUZU pine, black sesame

15. YUBA shrimp, miso, orange

16. PORK grapefruit, cornbread, ohio honeycomb

17. KUMQUAT aquavit, picholine olive, caraway

18. CHESTNUT too many garnishes to list

19. BLACK TRUFFLE in the center of your table

20. DUCK quince, onion, pillow of mace air

21. KOBE BEEF yogurt, squash, smoked paprika candy

22. SWEET POTATO bourbon, cinnamon fragrance

23. GINGERBREAD sunchoke, raisin, melted butter

24. APPLEWOOD muscovado sugar, fenugreek

25. PEANUT frozen pedro ximénez

26. CHOCOLATE avocado, lime, mint

27. DRY CARAMEL salt

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