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[CHI] Alinea – Grant Achatz – Reviews & Discussion (Part 3)


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[Moderator note: The original [CHI] Alinea – Grant Achatz – Reviews & Discussion topic became too large for our servers to handle efficiently, so we've divided it up; the preceding part of this discussion is here: [CHI] Alinea – Grant Achatz – Reviews & Discussion (Part 2)]

My last (big) meal of the year—or I should say the one worth writing about on egullet—was at “Alinea.” I have eaten there three times before and, as usual, Chef Achatz did not disappoint.

On a very personal note, for me “Alinea” is the operatic equivalent of Wagner’s “Gotterdammerung.” As much as I love the opera, I welcome the intermissions and I wish that “Alinea” would offer me the possibility of doing the Tour with intermissions so as to give me the opportunity of experiencing all of Chef Achatz’s delectable creations and of enjoying his prodigious inventiveness to the fullest. I am offering this preamble because when looking at my notes/pictures I realize that all my favorites were towards the beginning and I think I should only fault my deliciously-abused palate.

We also did the wine pairing with the Tour, as usual. I am not sure if I “upgraded” (terrible wording, by the way), but I think I did since I compared notes (read prices) with a friend who had recently dined there a week before. I think I am not capable of saying “please upgrade my wine pairings” at a restaurant of this caliber without making a bad joke (“Will you be using paper or electronic upgrades?”, “Do I downgrade if I am cheap?”). I have just checked with recent posters and my offerings coincide with people that requested the (business or first class) wine pairing. Bad jokes aside:

My Tour was as follows:

1. Hot Potato
2. King Crab
3. Char Roe
4. Medai
5. Matsutake
6. Carrot
7. Monkfish
8. Duck
9. White Truffle
10. Kobe Beef
11. Concord Grape
12. Chestnut
13. Persimmon
14. Quince
15. Shellfish
16. Hamachi
17. Pineapple
18. Lamb
19. Venison
20. Orange
21. Licorice Cake
22. Chocolate
23. Caramel

There was something that was not on the menu, something cinnamon with something inside, and it was served on the same stands where they used to serve those fondly remembered “Heart of Palms.”

I think the “Hot Potato” and “White Truffle” deserve no further explanation. They are perfection.

White Truffle pic:

gallery_47955_4064_493180.jpg

Among my favorites were the King Crab on a vinegar gelee with different aromatics, the Char Roe with cucumber and coconut and the Monkfish served with a combination of banana and onion, incredible.
Then the Lamb finished on the hot rock was very good as was the venison “encased in a savory granola,” both were outstanding.

A picture of the King Crab:

gallery_47955_4064_961676.jpg

The Char Roe:

gallery_47955_4064_520281.jpg


The “pillow” came with juniper air and a very good duck with pancetta and beets.

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The Kobe Beef was good (even though it contained one of my least favorite food items: beets again).

I did not care much for the Persimmon, the Hamachi (too many peanuts) or the desserts (the Licorice cake was probably the only dish that I truly disliked of the menu). The desserts were disappointing to my dinner companions as well. However, I guess we were all a little bit exhausted towards the end and we were far from appreciative.

A pic of the Chocolate Dessert with "passion fruit, kaffir lime and soy."

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I thought the “Carrot” (smoked paprika and orange), one of those “balls” that you pop into your mouth and the frozen “Concord Grape” and the "Chestnut" with sherry vinegar were excellent.

The wine pairing was very good and I loved the “detail” of printing the menu with the respective wines.

To my surprise, the service—very amicable and professional—was not as good as I remembered it. There were two serious breaks in service and, at one point, the runner brought the same dish we had just been served. A little surprising, IMHO, given my previous flawless experience at "Alinea." However, the restaurant felt very busy (they turned one table in my section) and there seemed to be moments of stress around the waiting staff.

These are very minor quibbles given the long evening (four hour plus). I think “Alinea” rightly deserves all the accolades and it is truly one incredible gastronomical experience.

Questions, ask

And hope everyone has a very delectable '07

Edited by Mjx
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From the piece linked by robert40:

I shouldn't like any of this. I wrote a book on Slow Food, the international movement dedicated to saving farm-raised food and preserving the environment. As the Atlantic Monthly's food writer, I spend most of my professional time talking to cooks who visit farmers, and to farmers who struggle to make a living by raising good food in old, environmentally respectful, deeply uneconomical ways. My own preference is for the simplest food imaginable--the kind intended to pay tribute to the best and most highly flavored ingredients.

I wonder why Kummer thinks that Achatz doesn't have that kind of relationship with his suppliers. Did he ask about where the food comes from (aside from the exotic chemicals)?

Overall I thought it was an interesting read. There's a second installment promised for Jan 12. Thanks for the link.

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This is not just another article extolling the wonders of Grant Achatz and his team at Alinea. This is by Corby Kummer, the American scribe of the Slow Food Movement. As the quote above attests, this is not his usual cup-of-tea. As one who has been comfortable in both camps for a number of years, I am pleased to see this response from someone so closely associated with that movement. Thanks for sharing the link.

P.S. thanks for the report, Lenski. Was that a New Year's Eve dinner?i

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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This is not just another article extolling the wonders of Grant Achatz and his team at Alinea. This is by Corby Kummer, the American scribe of the Slow Food Movement. As the quote above attests, this is not his usual cup-of-tea. As one who has been comfortable in both camps for a number of years, I am pleased to see this response from someone so closely associated with that movement. Thanks for sharing the link.

P.S. thanks for the report, Lenski. Was that a New Year's Eve dinner?i

No, just a regular wonderful dinner between Xmas and NYears.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This past Sunday (January 21st) Edward Lifson of Hello Beautiful (an arts, architecture and culture radio program on NPR) interviewed Martin Kastner. The short 8 minute piece gave some background on some of the wares used at Alinea, as well his process for coming up with solutions for problems that Chef Achatz presents. Listen to the mp3 (you have to download the whole segment of 50 minutes, 29 MB).

In addition, Michael Nagrant wrote a long piece for New City Chicago, that focuses on the professional relationship with Chef Achatz and Mr. Kastner. The piece, "Cutting Edge: How Alinea invents new ways to serve food," is more about the process behind the scenes and focuses specifically on the latest MCA event.

Innovation of cuisine is not a closed door environment. I, for one, am glad that Mr. Kastner is involved with the Alinea team, for without him things may come out of the kitchen looking (and possibly tasting) a little different.

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They certainly can't be taken as serious, but there are quite a few negative reader reviews on metromix.com. They're good for a laugh as opposed to actual restaurant criticism. Probably half of complaints have to do with the portions being too small and people leaving hungry. I fail to understand how this is possible. I feel like a beached whale every time I leave Alinea.

Edited by jesteinf (log)

-Josh

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They certainly can't be taken as serious, but there are quite a few negative reader reviews on metromix.com.  They're good for a laugh as opposed to actual restaurant criticism.

The problem with reader reviews is that most people don't fill them out unless they have (or perceive) a bad experience and want to "get back at" the restaurant, so there is a built-in bias. At least, this is my guess, from having seen a lot of negative reader reviews for many places that I know are excellent and making most of their customers very happy indeed.

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Have there been any seriously negative reviews of Alinea?

At the risk of throwing myself under the flaming bus, I'll state that I was not enamored with Alinea. And I know I'm not alone in my thoughts. Though I can't say any review I've read has be "seriously" negative.

Gastronomic Fight Club - Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

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Have there been any seriously negative reviews of Alinea?

At the risk of throwing myself under the flaming bus, I'll state that I was not enamored with Alinea. And I know I'm not alone in my thoughts. Though I can't say any review I've read has be "seriously" negative.

Comfort in numbers. I'll venture to stand with you before that bus (*wince*). I was neither impressed nor "seriously" disappointed on either visit. Service was a big part of my lackluster experiences. But, I've already shared my thoughts upthread.

u.e.

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

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Have there been any seriously negative reviews of Alinea?

At the risk of throwing myself under the flaming bus, I'll state that I was not enamored with Alinea. And I know I'm not alone in my thoughts. Though I can't say any review I've read has be "seriously" negative.

I think it's about par for the course that in a 26 course tasting menu of that calibre, there's always going to be some standout dishes so I don't think there's been any seriously negative reviews. One the whole however, I tend to largely agree with snekse. For me at least, the few real duds were a serious disappointment and left me feeling ambivilant about it.

PS: I am a guy.

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Congrats to Chef Grant Achatz, Sommelier Craig Sindelar and the entire Alinea team for winning 2007 Jean Banchet awards in their respective categories (Celebrity Chef, Sommelier, Fine Dining). The well-deserved accoloades continue to roll-in. :smile:

=R=

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  • 2 weeks later...

Went to Alinea a few days ago. My original reservation was for 9:30pm on a Thursday. Since I flew into Chicago early

that morning, it meant that it would be a 20 hr day, not ideal for the 23 course Tour menu, especially if I wanted to include the wine pairings. But luckily, I got a call from the restaurant early afternoon indicating that they could seat me earlier, in fact I could show up anytime that evening, as they were not looking to turn that table. So I ended up taking a 10 min cab ride from my hotel on lakeshore drive to Alinea (make you have their address as not all cabbies will know the restaurant) and arrive at 7:30pm.

As you may know, the outside out the restaurant is quite plain and the indication of Alinea was on the valet parking sign. You enter through a non discreet doorway which can best be described as what looks like a side entrance through which deliveries are made. Then you enter a long corridor and you expect the entrance to be at the end of it, but it is in fact 2/3rds of the way on the left. All these "faux entrances" reminded me of per se a la fake door, but also gives the diner a glimpse of what is to come...an overhaul of their perceptions of food in their "traditional" preparations.

Many of the dishes are served on specialized utensils, specially designed for it as thoroughly documented on eGullet. Going into this dinner I was somewhat apprehensive as to whether Alinea got its fame because of good tasting food or clever food related gimmicks. It is my pleasure to assure you that the taste of the dish is not compromised for novelty. In fact the taste of many dishes was heightened, though not all dishes were stars in my mind.

Making the best of my luck in being able to secure an earlier reservation, I decided to go for the larger tour menu and what the heck, add in the wine pairings as well. For those interested, you could order 1/2 bottles or even some wines by the glass if I recall correctly, which in retrospect would have been better, as I was unable to consume more than 1/2 the pour for most of the 13(?) wines, even though I would have enjoyed many of them if I had been less full. A word of caution for the frugal gourmet...the wine pairing is $135(?) and price is not prominent during a quick glance of the menu.

For those contemplating the shorter tasting menu, a quick comparison of the shorter Tasting and Tour menu show that they share many of the dishes which I would consider highlights of the meal. In fact, there was a bacon course on the Tasting menu that I would have loved to see make its way over to the Tour menu.

The kitchen and front of the house worked very well together, adjusting to the pace of the diners seamlessly. The wait staff and kitchen runners were informative and well versed, especially the young waiter/sommelier who attended to my wine needs with a splash of history accompanied.

So on to the meal...

Before the Amuse was brought out, a twig of rosemary was placed in a special holder on the edge of the table and the aperitif was poured.

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Amuse Bouch - Croquette smoked steelhead roe, sour cream liquid, candied endive. - I was instructed to pop the entire thing in my mouth, which was good as a bit would have exploded the sour cream all over. Many flavors unfold as the croquette melts in your mouth and before the creamy texture of the sour cream coats your tongue.

Chartogne-Taillet "Cuvee Ste-Anne" Brut with Pineau des Charentes.

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Octopus salad - Shiso flowers, papaya, toasted soy, soy dressing artisanal - The texture of the octopus was good but not spectacular. However, the star of this dish was the delicate red wine(?) and shiso broth on the bottom, which one is instructed to sip after eating the octopus on the fork and then placing the self balancing bowl on the black mahogany table.

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Chanterelle with carrot, curry and ham - This was one of my favorites and I am horrified to say that the picture did not turn out well. I believe it was presented as a parfait, and the sleeve removed at the table, allowing the ingredients to ooze out. The chanterelle puree was as creamy as whipped peanut butter, the perfectly cooked carrot pieces dipped in sherry vinegar, the spinach ball in dijon mustard and the proscuitto and apricot leather gave this dish a sweet and salty dimension.

Quinta so Alqueve Fernao Pires, Ribatejo, Portugal 2005

Apple, horseradish, celery - I was instructed to eat this in one bite and cautioned that the ball looked smaller than it really is...sort of like looking at it in the side view mirror of a car. When you bite into this, you are surprised with a chilled splash of apple juice and contrary to my expectations, the horseradish was mildly flavored and did not overpower this dish. I don't recall the celery doing much other than perhaps adding another dimension.

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At this point, I was offered bread service, optional due to the filling nature of the tour menu....but how could I resist. Their bread is ordered from an external bakery (forget the name) and is quite good. I tried the pumpernickel and wheat, which was presented with Danish cow's butter and a Goat's milk butter from Quebec.

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Monkfish - banana, onion, lime - The monkfish was served 3 ways poached; fired; pureed. It was served with banana pudding and lime gelee. In the past, I have had fish wrapped in banana leaf and steamed, but I do not recall ever pairing banana with fish. An unexpected combination, but one that works...in fact I think Chef may be fond of this combination, as it appears again in a later dish. The extremely crispy fried monkfish were key to providing a textural element and salvaging this dish from having the same texture as that of cuisine served at the Shady Maple retirement home.

Vincent Dancer Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru "La Romanee" 2004

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Duck - mango, yogurt, pillow of juniper air - Another star dish; a combination of traditional and nouvelle cuisine. Duck confit was a homage to its traditional preparation, while the duck breast had an unconventional presentation. The yogurt foam added a gentle tanginess and the crispy skin added a good textural component. The juniper air was only slight detectable...perhaps because I was tired or my ofactory senses were already pounded.

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Truffle explosion - raviolo of truffle jus topped with black truffle - Again, you eat this in one single bite and have the warm truffle jus explode in your mouth. This was the second most truffly dish I have had, only second to the white truffle risotto at Per Se. The raviolo seemed to be a bit thick, but that could be to ensure that it did not prematurely explode over the guest or maybe it was to add a chewy textural element, but I could not help think about how the dish would have been with a thinner skinned raviolo.

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Short Ribs, Guinness sheet, peanuts, fried broccoli - Another example of an ingenious dish. Yes, I have made short ribs with Guinness plenty of times, but never has the Guinness taken for form of a sheet. I need to find out how to do this. There was only a tiny bit of short ribs, which went well with the peanut butter pudding. However, I found the mustard and pink peppercorns to be a bit overpowering. For my taste, a bit less mustard sprinkled throughout would have been ideal.

Paolo Bea Montefaico Rosso Riserva "Pipparello", Umbria 2001. - Apparently, this wine is made my a dedicated farmer, who owns 20 hectares in Umbria, 5 of which are devoted to the wine. A bold wine, yet with a nice finish.

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Frozen Yuzu - presented on a guitar pick. Not overpowering and a great palate cleanser with a bit of a chew...in a good way.

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Chestnut puree w/Blis maple syrup - Ever used a push pin as a utensil? It is ideal for this dish with was a simple but power combination of antigriddled Chestnut puree and bourbon aged Blis maple syrup. I intent to try this dish at home...sans antigriddle.

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Persimmon, brioche, mace gelee, grapefruit, ginger honey tea orb - The texture of the persimmon reminded me of custard apple (which I love) and the flavor of the brioche was simply decadent. You were instructed to pop the honey ginger tea half way through to act as a mini palate cleanser.

Marcel Deiss Gewurztraminer "Heimbourg", Alsace 2003

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So by this point I am getting a bit tired...and we are only 1/2 way into the meal !!! So I start focusing on longevity, pacing myself...thinking of baseball .... just kidding.

Licorice Cake - muscivado sugar, orange, anise hyssop - You might have seen this alien looking item, served on an antenna on TV shows featuring Alinea and it was precisely this dish my preconceived notions had chalked up to the over-the-top, fru-fru-flavorless column. Boy was I wrong. It proved to pack a flavorful punch, with the licorice not being too overpowering and left me longing for another bite.

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King Crab - vinegar, aromatics, rice, grapes of the sea - The crab was served on top of rice wine gelee. The "grapes of the sea" were actually kelp berries (they did actually pop when you bite them). An interesting take on sushi...I would have loved to see the expression on the face of a traditional sushi chef ;-) . I did find the crab a bit hard to cut and not as flavorful as other king crab I have had.

A.R. Lenoble "Rose Millesime" Brut, Damery 2000 - This wine was named after this rose bouquet instead of color and went well with the sushi.

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Skate w/lemon, caper, brown butter powder - The skate was served on slices of banana (remember this combo from before?). The powder was interesting, but in my opinion a bit too salty and overpowering for such a delicately flavored fish.

Francois Villard "Terrasses du Palat" Condrieu, N. Rhone 2004

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Pineapple bacon powder, black pepper - WOW. The smoky bacon flavor really came through as the pineapple candy melted away. Why don't they sell this in candy stores?!!?

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Lamb, dates, mastic, rosemary aroma - This dish came out on a hot terra cotta brick heated to 400-500F, into which the rosemary was inserted. The heat not only seared the bottom of the lamb, but also released the essential oils of the rosemary. There were 3 pieces of lamb topped with 3 different toppings - mastic, dates macerated in sherry and shallots with red wine

Jean Royer Chateauneuf-du-Pape "Hommage a mon Pere", S. Rohne 2001

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Hot potato, cold potato, truffle, butter, parmesan - Another great concept, well executed. What can I say other than I wish there was more !!

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Venison in Granola, Cherry Sauce, Micro Sage - If one can encrust Venison in nut, why not granola? The flavor combination of the granola and parsnip puree seemed to bring out the slight sweetness of the venison while the granola added a unique texture. Venison granola bar for breakfast anyone?

Schiavenza Barolo, Serralunga d'Alba 2000 - Seem to young for a Barolo? Not this wine which was bold with a refined finish.

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Foie Gras Mirangue - spicy cinnamon, apple pate de fruit - This dish was presented as a "gift" from the chef, which he was not charging for. As the meringue melted on your tongue, the foie gras fat just coats you palate and carries some of the apple flavor with it.

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By this point the Tour is taking its toll. I have to focus and envision the finish line with every bite.

Orange, olive oil powder, almond - The almond and orange bar had a flavor reminisent of an orange popsicle, drapped in an almond blanket. There was also a bergamot pudding with basil, which was another first for me.

Oremus Tokaji Aszu "5 Puttonyos", Hungary 1999 - Ahhh...a perfect example of what every Tokaji aspires to be.

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Cocunut, saffron, kiwi, corn - The star of this dish was a gelee made from corn husks, which had a flavor of corn combined with hay. The coconut dominant in this dish was pliable, sort of like the skin that sometimes forms on a can of coconut milk.

Boony Doon Viognier "Doux", Central Coast 2004 - This wine made from grapes harvest much later in the season and actually has hints of coconut.

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Chocolate, Passion Fruit, Soy, Kaffir Lime - The Venezuelan chocolate had a texture of cream pressed out of a tube...in a good way. The kaffir lime sorbet a nice palate cleanser. However, the soy was too strong and just destroyed this dish for me. I tried to blend the ingredients together, as instructed, but this dish just did not work for me. Blame it on a 20 hr day or the fact that this was the knock-out punch for my already overworked palate. I just could not finish this dish. Its a tragedy that this dish had to be part of an otherwise almost flawless set of courses.

Abbazia di Novacella Moscato Rosa "Prapositus", Alto Adige 2004

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Caramel Tempura on Cinnamon stick w/orange rind - After the last dish, I needed something to redeem my belief in this newly found temple of gastronomy. Since this was (thankfully) the last bite of the evening, the responsibility lay squarely on its tiny shoulders and it did not disappoint. You pick it up by the cinnamon stick, pop it in your mouth and slide it off without biting. The tempura batter melts away allowing the caramel to ooze out and let the orange linger on....Hallelujah !!

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In summary, Alinea is not a restaurant solely relying on gimmicks, they indeed do care about the flavors of the dish. The kitchen is powered by 16 professional, innovative chefs, headed by a very creative and passionate leader. A quick tour of the kitchen on the way out around 12:10am showed Chef Grant on his Mac either browsing eGullet or in search for his next dish.

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I wish this restaurant was closer to where I lived so that I would visit it a couple times a year, though I am not sure I would exceed that frequency.

Cheers

Percy

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Thanks for the report and the photos!

A couple of quick comments...

A word of caution for the frugal gourmet...the wine pairing is $135(?) and price is not prominent during a quick glance of the menu.

A word of caution for the frugal gourmet... don't go to Alinea. :biggrin:

Foie Gras Mirangue - spicy cinnamon, apple pate de fruit - This dish was presented as a "gift" from the chef, which he was not charging for.

That's due to Chicago's recently-passed (and widely-criticized) municipal ordinance, which bans the sale of foie gras. Some restaurants are figuring out ways to give it away to diners, which is apparently legal.

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Thanks, Percy, for the thorough post. It's always great to see those beautiful dishes again, after the meal has ended.

We too, went to Alinea a few days ago with a couple of friends who'd never been there before and we had a spectacular experience; very similar to the one depicted above. Somehow, the kitchen continues to tighten up dishes that, in their previous incarnations, already seemed perfect.

I am constantly impressed by the way the plates continually evolve at Alinea. Chef G and crew are masterful, not only when it comes to creating delicious and beautiful combinations but also when it comes to refining them. Whether they are combining familiar elements in new ways, fashioning original combinations which evoke familiar emotional responses or taking the diner to entirely new territory via previously uncharted combinations, Alinea continues to produce the most exciting, innovative and important food in the Chicago area, if not the country.

If you have access to Alinea and have not yet dined there, I believe you are depriving yourself of one of the most meaningful and memorable dining experiences available. No one can do what Chef G does and he is clearly at the peak of his craft.

=R=

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

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Short Ribs, Guinness sheet, peanuts, fried broccoli - Another example of an ingenious dish. Yes, I have made short ribs with Guinness plenty of times, but never has the Guinness taken for form of a sheet. I need to find out how to do this. There was only a tiny bit of short ribs, which went well with the peanut butter pudding. However, I found the mustard and pink peppercorns to be a bit overpowering. For my taste, a bit less mustard sprinkled throughout would have been ideal.
This dish sounds amazing to me. I'm a sucker for beer-braised/cooked meat. I also tend to like the spice that mustard adds.
Frozen Yuzu - presented on a guitar pick. Not overpowering and a great palate cleanser with a bit of a chew...in a good way.
My first thought is "Yikes! Frozen yuzu on metal!" That sounds like a high-tang experience. But, I'm confident Achatz used very non-metallic-tasting metal... :smile:
Chestnut puree w/Blis maple syrup - Ever used a push pin as a utensil? It is ideal for this dish with was a simple but power combination of antigriddled Chestnut puree and bourbon aged Blis maple syrup. I intent to try this dish at home...sans antigriddle.
These flavors sound wonderful to me.

Other thoughts: both the King Crab and the Skate are gorgeous in presentation.

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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Foie Gras Mirangue - spicy cinnamon, apple pate de fruit - This dish was presented as a "gift" from the chef, which he was not charging for.

That's due to Chicago's recently-passed (and widely-criticized) municipal ordinance, which bans the sale of foie gras. Some restaurants are figuring out ways to give it away to diners, which is apparently legal.

Very nice touch! but help me understand here. How is the dish "free"? I mean it was part of the Tour menu. right? It's not like Percyn ordered the dishes individually. Or am I getting it all wrong and this dish as a "25th" dish not listed and normally requiring a supplement charge?

E. Nassar
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Caramel Tempura on Cinnamon stick w/orange rind - After the last dish, I needed something to redeem my belief in this newly found temple of gastronomy. Since this was (thankfully) the last bite of the evening, the responsibility lay squarely on its tiny shoulders and it did not disappoint. You pick it up by the cinnamon stick, pop it in your mouth and slide it off without biting. The tempura batter melts away allowing the caramel to ooze out and let the orange linger on....Hallelujah !!

Found the recipe for this on the Eric & Kathy Mornings WTMX.Chicago blog.

Caramel Tempura, Lemon,Cinnamon Aroma

Gastronomic Fight Club - Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

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Foie Gras Mirangue - spicy cinnamon, apple pate de fruit - This dish was presented as a "gift" from the chef, which he was not charging for.

That's due to Chicago's recently-passed (and widely-criticized) municipal ordinance, which bans the sale of foie gras. Some restaurants are figuring out ways to give it away to diners, which is apparently legal.

Very nice touch! but help me understand here. How is the dish "free"? I mean it was part of the Tour menu. right? It's not like Percyn ordered the dishes individually. Or am I getting it all wrong and this dish as a "25th" dish not listed and normally requiring a supplement charge?

A number of restaurants are doing similar things, like charging $28 for a salad, but serving it with complementary foie gras. It's just a way to exploit a loophole in a very poorly written law.

-Josh

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

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My first thought is "Yikes!  Frozen yuzu on metal!"  That sounds like a high-tang experience.  But, I'm confident Achatz used very non-metallic-tasting metal...  :smile:

U.E, I had a similar thought just before putting the Yuzu in my mouth, but it was not very tart and the predominant focus was on the chewy texture of this dish.

Other thoughts: both the King Crab and the Skate are gorgeous in presentation.

Agreed. Unfortunately, both were lacking a bit in the flavor/texture deptartment.

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My first thought is "Yikes!  Frozen yuzu on metal!"  That sounds like a high-tang experience.  But, I'm confident Achatz used very non-metallic-tasting metal...   :smile:

U.E, I had a similar thought just before putting the Yuzu in my mouth, but it was not very tart and the predominant focus was on the chewy texture of this dish.

Chewy? By your initial title, I assumed it was more like a block sorbet... interesting. Was it cold or room temperature?
Other thoughts: both the King Crab and the Skate are gorgeous in presentation.

Agreed. Unfortunately, both were lacking a bit in the flavor/texture deptartment.

I will agree on the skate, as I have had that before. Actually, I personally was shocked by the softness of the skate - I've never had skate just melt in my mouth like that. Flavorwise, I do wish there was more umph to the skate dish I had.

As for the King Crab, I can't comment because I've never had that. However, I will say it looks very "clean"-tasting. What is the transluscent gelatin underneath the thin cut of crab?

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Thanks for the detailed post, Percy. I will be there in a couple of weeks but my wife would not agree to go to Alinea if we ordered the tour - and seeing the tour marathon bring you to bear, I am longer feeling like I am missing out too badly.

Thanks for taking one for the Philly team.

Dough can sense fear.

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