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Lenski

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

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Actually, on my one visit (so far) it didn't seem like "that kind of place" either (my remark was supposed to be a tad provocative). As I stated above I found the service terrific.

But obviously the have a certain policy regarding the splitting - or maybe it just depends on the given waiter's mood...(by the way: when we were there, they kind of did a splitting, but were a bit reluctant at first, too. And there certainly was no "miscommunication". I wonder how there could be...).

Anyway: I love the place and I wouldn't bother about that matter for a second - if the policy would be clear.

greetings

k.


Edited by kai-m (log)

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Any idea how much I can expect to pay for wine pairings (standard and premium) for the tour menu?

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I have been in Alinea about a year ago and ordered the grand menu. My report has been overdue. Written but never posted. (because I started a new blog and it took time to transfer my posts from gastroville to gastromoniale)

I thought some of you may be interested in this review.

Alinea is a restaurant that I am looking forward to go back.

Here is the review.

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Like Vedat it has been some time but the memories of my great meal at Alinea in May08 are still vivid. In a way my thinking about this meal had to ripen... Funnily we both indepently felt the urge of putting this out...

However, my overall take is different from Vedat's. Clearly, not every dish of 27 is truly outstanding it is merely the combination, menu dramaturgy and the interplay of all senses what makes the experience unique. And, we all found the wine pairings to be really great!

My summary in short:

What an experience! Even after several months the suspense, surprise and satisfaction is still very present. Grant Achatz is a true culinary genius in a very distinct and different way. The menu we enjoyed was a showcase for his quest of creating something unique which for me was an almost transcendental experience - creativity beyond the obvious, technical mastery and perfect delivery - it had both soul and dedication to the utmost detail.

The full review and some pictures can be found here.

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IFS - I love the enthsiasm in your review.

I'm visiting Chicago in April and have already booked a night in Alinea.

I was already excited before I read your review, so now I really can't wait!

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Any idea how much I can expect to pay for wine pairings (standard and premium) for the tour menu?

Salty, the wine menu varies in price but it is about 2/3 of the menu price for the standard one which I would strongly recommend as complex/great wines would be too much distraction. At least for me, that is. Hard to concentrate on the food and the flow of the menu alone;-)

Enjoy your visit!

Grant will be in Salzburg's Hangar-7/Ikarus as a guest chef in November - I will be there, that's for sure!

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Actually, on my one visit (so far) it didn't seem like "that kind of place" either (my remark was supposed to be a tad provocative). As I stated above I found the service terrific.

But obviously the have a certain policy regarding the splitting - or maybe it just depends on the given waiter's mood...(by the way: when we were there, they kind of did a splitting, but were a bit reluctant at first, too. And there certainly was no "miscommunication". I wonder how there could be...).

Anyway: I love the place and I wouldn't bother about that matter for a second - if the policy would be clear.

greetings

k.

The wine team at alinea will split a wine pairing upon request. They just like to be sure that the guest is aware of how much wine they will actually drink. Some guests hear the amount of glasses they will receive and assume they are going to get an 8 oz pour each time. So more often than not the guest will change their mind and go for the pairing. Another thing about the pairing is they are very flexible on the pours. During the menu at any point the wine team can pour lighter or heavier upon request. Also the price of the pairing is 3/4 to the full price of the menu you are eating that night depending on your pour requests.

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A serious question about Alinea....(and this is mainly for those who have dined at Minibar...will cross-post on that thread)..... I am curious about the QUANTITY of food over several hours, compared to a a meal like I had at minibar. In short, my 40th birthday is coming up on July 4, and I can't think of a better meal to escort me into these bitter years than Alinea....but my capacity is limited due to my gastric bypass. I handled minibar, barely, just fine, and I know that the time spent at Alinea is at least twice that.

So....how much food do I get, AND who wants to join me for my 40th birthday shenanigans :) ?

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A serious question about Alinea....(and this is mainly for those who have dined at Minibar...will cross-post on that thread)..... I am curious about the QUANTITY of food over several hours, compared to a a meal like I had at minibar.  In short, my 40th birthday is coming up on July 4, and I can't think of a better meal to escort me into these bitter years than Alinea....but my capacity is limited due to my gastric bypass.  I handled minibar, barely, just fine, and I know that the time spent at Alinea is at least twice that.

So....how much food do I get, AND who wants to join me for my 40th birthday shenanigans :) ?

There is a lot of food in the tour served over a number of hours. You may be better off not ordering the tour.


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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Grant's twitter points to this video review.

Gachatz:  And for the record, I have never raised my voice in the dining room... Clearly the most entertaining review of Alinea I have seen

I like not having to actually read a review.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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A serious question about Alinea....(and this is mainly for those who have dined at Minibar...will cross-post on that thread)..... I am curious about the QUANTITY of food over several hours, compared to a a meal like I had at minibar.  In short, my 40th birthday is coming up on July 4, and I can't think of a better meal to escort me into these bitter years than Alinea....but my capacity is limited due to my gastric bypass.  I handled minibar, barely, just fine, and I know that the time spent at Alinea is at least twice that.

So....how much food do I get, AND who wants to join me for my 40th birthday shenanigans :) ?

There is a lot of food in the tour served over a number of hours. You may be better off not ordering the tour.

I'm a college-aged male, and I was stuffed to bursting with the Tour and the wine pairings. Without, the pairings, I might have been comfortable, but it was a lot of food.

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Grant's twitter points to this video review.
Gachatz:  And for the record, I have never raised my voice in the dining room... Clearly the most entertaining review of Alinea I have seen

I like not having to actually read a review.

After watching that review,

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After watching that review,

:laugh::laugh:

Classic.

"You had to eat it before it got big enough to fight back."


Edited by KCWilkinson (log)

-K

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I love hearing about food auctions. The Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo has almost daily auctions on tuna, that can cost about as much as a small car. White truffles auction out at over 6 digits. These, of course, are commodities, and can be resold to make a profit. But what about those auctions where it's not about a product, but an experience.

You have the ones where you can win a dinner cooked by a celebrated chef at your house for a small private party. Here you can chat it up with the chef and possibly get involved in the meal preparation. Sounds like fun and could be exciting, but what about a more holistic experience.

There is guest chef for a day program held at Charlie Trotter's. This is almost like living a chapter in Anthony Bourdain's, Kitchen Confidential (albeit a boring chapter). Not only do you get to see the inner workings of the kitchen/restaurant, but they make you work as well.

Now Alinea comes out an auction of their own. As seen on the Word Play Gala (list of auction packages):

MASTER CHEF - A truly unique experience

- Opportunity to cook and host your own dinner party for six.

- Work under the guidance of the Alinea team.

- Dinner for two, with wine pairings at Alinea.

- A personalized, signed copy of the Alinea recipe book.

The last two two items seem like standard prizes, but the first two caught my interest. Talking to Nick, I was able to get more detailed information...

The opportunity to use the Alinea kitchen on a Monday or a Tuesday when we are closed to host your own dinner party. You bring the food and up to 6 guests... and we will set up tables in the kitchen for you to host. You get the use of the facilities all day to prep... and in the evening myself (Nick Kokonas) and one of our chefs (quite possibly Grant Achatz) will help you out in cooking and service. Make no mistake, you have to cook... we are not going to do the cooking for you... We will also open up the Alinea wine cellar for you to purchase wine at a discount. In short, Alinea is your home kitchen for one night only.

This is pretty cool. The winner will be able to use any of the cooking tools (PacoJet, Volcano, immersion circulator, anti-griddle, etc.) and service-ware (think Crucial Detail) -- "the whole Alinea" (with supervision, of course).

This experience is sure to be priceless, and one that will be hard to replicate. I don't know about you, but I can already image what I want to vaporize in the volcano, pulverize in the PacoJet, chill out on the anti-griddle. And then there is the planning on what to hang on the bow, stand on the squid, and sandwich between the cork presenter. This is just some amazing, outside the box thinking that these guys are known for.

Now can who is interested in pooling together some cash. You have till next Friday (April 24), and you don't even need to buy tickets to go to the gala.

gallery_15603_6587_13767.jpg

Maybe they will toss in some chefs uniform for you to wear.

gallery_15603_6587_58985.jpg

What can you hang on the bow?

gallery_15603_6587_5949.jpg

I think you can pretty much vaporize anything. :cool:

gallery_15603_6587_91649.jpg

And of course, you can stuff what ever you want to in the Hearts of Palm.

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I am sure that many of you have heard or seen the "Supremes de Pigeonneaux Saint Clair" that Alinea is now serving. In case you have not, here it is.gallery_47955_6590_47766.jpg

It is just ok. I do not understand the reasoning behind putting it on the menu. It did not do anything for me and the old-fashioned cutlery and wine glass that accompanied the presentation seemed out of a Merchant-Ivory production just worsened it. It was like going to see the latest Adams Opera and find one of those endless Handel arias routinely sung stuck in the middle, and it was not "Ombra mai fù." Why? I do not know.

It is curious since that was one of the two dishes that I felt missed the mark. I did not care for the "yolk" either.

Among the many, many winners were the "roes" with traditional garnishes (Brioche foam), and the "Pork Belly" was outstanding:

gallery_47955_6590_46614.jpg

I did not care much for the lobster with popcorn, corn, mango curry, a dangerous butter spherification but I am in the minority:

gallery_47955_6590_848422.jpg

My favorites were the "white asparagus," the "lilac" and the pear (olive oil, black pepper, eucalyptus) topped with Murray River salt. Perfection in a bite:

gallery_47955_6590_38776.jpg

The "wagyu beef" with powdered A1, potato, and chips had the added trick of dry ice smoke. The kind they use in false volcanoes for the science project. The beef was outstanding but the rest was just fine. The smoke did not do much for me. The whole dish strongly reminded me of another chef...

gallery_47955_6590_20870.jpg

The desserts were better than I remembered from my last time, particularly the "rhubarb" with cotton candy, onion (red in different textures) and lavender air (they used the pillow thing filled with lavender aromatics). Incredible how well all the disparate elements worked. The "Chocolate" was just fine for me but the "kola nut" was outstanding.

The place was packed (recession, hello?) which made me happy but a little too much movement for my taste....from now on I will try to avoid weekends at Alinea. Overall, it was another great night of dining but, truth be told, I have had better at Alinea and I am lucky to have had many.

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It was like going to see the latest Adams Opera and find one of those endless Handel arias routinely sung stuck in the middle, and it was not "Ombra mai fù."  Why?  I do not know.

It is curious since that was one of the two dishes that I felt missed the mark. I did not care for the "yolk" either.

Bring out the harpsichord!

Thanks for the report Lenski. I'm curious to hear what others have to say about this dish as I admit I've been totally out of the loop on it. What mark did it miss, may I ask, other than, as you say, being an anachronism?


“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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It missed the mark for me, but others might enjoy it. It did not do anything for me. And, to answer Ulterior Epicure's question, I think that any of Chef Achatz's creation is a lot better than the "Supremes de Pigeonneaux Saint Clair." I am not a culinary historian, and I am sure that Escoffier's creation was groundbreaking at the time, but would I expect Pollock to paint Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte?" I would not. I prefer Chef Achatz's dazzling creativity and I go to Alinea to be dazzled and surprised, and this was just an attempt to show that he can pull off a classic? I have the feeling that Ecoffier would have loved Chef Achatz's creations, and he would have added "putain, c'est bon."

I think the most offensive aspect was the wine glass, ugly, ugly. I was expecting a matronly lady telling me to be careful with that glass...It was very "Babette's Feast" all of a sudden.

Now, it would be interesting to trace an ingredient, or a dish throughout the ages or across borders.

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For a very funny take on Alinea see this video.. It works best if one has actually been to Alinea, but I think anyone with a familiarity with what the restaurant does or Chef Achatz will enjoy it.


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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For a very funny take on Alinea see this video.. It works best if one has actually been to Alinea, but I think anyone with a familiarity with what the restaurant does or Chef Achatz will enjoy it.

Actually, YOU might enjoy that review more if you had seen THIS.

:wink:


“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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I did not care much for the lobster with popcorn, corn, mango curry, a dangerous butter spherification but I am in the minority:

gallery_47955_6590_848422.jpg

dangerous indeed.....I managed to create a fountain that spilled all across my (obviously brand new) jacket a few months ago. Having had a significant share of the wines I somehow lost my cool and jumped up shouting "Butter emergency". The staff worked like a well trained ER team and had everything cleaned and me under control within a minute. They even offered dry-cleaning for what was my stupidity (I declined).

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Congratulations to Chef Achatz and his team for moving up to #10 in Restaurant Magazine's Top 50 Restaurants in the world list! They were ranked #2 in the US after Per Se, though ahead of TFL.


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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Congratulations to Chef Achatz and his team for moving up to #10 in Restaurant Magazine's Top 50 Restaurants in the world list! They were ranked #2 in the US after Per Se, though ahead of TFL.

And I would gladly switch their places. If I had to compare my last two meals at both "Alinea" and "per Se," the former wins by a landslide. IMHO.

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