Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

chefseanbrock

[CHI] Alinea – Grant Achatz – Reviews & Discussion (Part 1)

Recommended Posts

Moderator Note: For an in-depth look at Alinea's pre-opening development, please visit The Alinea Project forum.

======

We were the first table sat at Alinea on opening day......words can't describe what It's like to eat at this restaurant

Alinea will change the way people look at restaurants forever.......I can't even imagine what this restaurant's future will hold, it is almost scary to think about

A completely flawless meal on opening night with a 28 course format, very few people can pull that off..... it will be a very long time before a restaurant of this caliber surfaces anywhere in the world.......

an amazing experience to say the least....alinea has raised the bar to unreachable heights!!!!!!

the kitchen is amazing and the new plates and serviceware are really cool as well

congratulations to chefg and the team at Alinea....I can't thank the entire staff enough for the mindbending experience and I am looking forward to my next meal (if I can get a reservation)

I have pictures of every course and will post them soon>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

seaninnashville

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

~heck.

those are some damn strong (and equally honest) words. i can't even imagine how you must've felt throughout your dining experience. i can't wait to read more about people's reactions and feelings. and it will all lead up to my may 24th reservation when i will find out just how amazing this restaurant is going to be. i just got goosebumps.

.trevor williams~

-Kendall College-

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We were the first table sat at Alinea on opening day.
Do tell how people were in your party and where were you sat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since there is so much to talk about, I need to make multiples postings (environment, menu and courses).

THE ENVIRONMENT

The last time Chef Grant Achatz worked in a kitchen of a restaurant was July 31, 2004. This became the last night at Trio for chefg as well as what may be his last kitchen table. Nine months later, he's back to present some of his latest ideas at Alinea (in case you missed it, you can follow the progression at The Alinea Project forum). Opening night was Wednesday, May 4th, and 50 (or so) lucky souls were able to experience his fare. I was in a party of three.

gallery_15603_1194_8638.jpg

Upon getting to the restaurant, only an address mounted onto the exterior facade tells you where you are. There is no signage, except for the removable free-standing valet parking sign. No hours of operation, no deliveries at back, no we accept Visa/MasterCard. As you open the full height doors, you find yourself within the entry vestibule. At this point, there is no signs or anyone telling you what to do. You must move through the space until you get to the opposite side where a couple of solid opaque sliding doors (reminiscent of Star Trek) open as you trigger the motion sensor.

gallery_15603_1194_21431.jpg

Moving through the doors, the space opens up to reveal the grand staircase (ultra modern) and a greeter is there to assist with your reservation (we were set for 6:15). Right now you are standing along the main axial circulation space. To your left is one of the three dining rooms (the other two are located upstairs) and to the right is the maitre d's station, restroom and the entrance to an open kitchen. Even though there are benches for waiting, the open kitchen design invites the guests to take a closer look, sort of like a light at the end of the tunnel. The kitchen is a cool white room (probably fluorescent lighting, or highly reflective surfaces, or everyone wearing white) and the dining spaces a warm white (incandescent lighting, or all the staff wearing dark attire). While sanding there we were able to view the controlled chaos occurring within and had the opportunity to chat it up with chefg.

gallery_15603_1194_18951.jpg

We would be seated in the lower dining room at a 4-top located next to the staircase. The tables are exposed dark wood veneer accompanied by a light colored chair with armrests. I must say these chairs are comfortable. Comfortable enough to spend 7 1/2 (seven and a half) hours on it. Upon sitting down, the napkin with the Alinea mark embroidered, is on the dark table. The traditional white on white elements is gone from this presentation and is a welcome site. I think the dark table will act as a wonderful platform for the white porcelain dishes and what ever light colored items find their way onto the table.

gallery_15603_1194_5853.jpg

Underneath the napkin is a metal disk that will be used for a course later on in the evening. This leaving of items on the table to be admired is found again with the table center piece. A few longitudinally cut pieces of ginger held together with shinny metal dowels adorns us. This too will be used in a later dish, although we want to play with the it. It just begs to be touched, and of course we take our turns examining it as if we never seen ginger before.

gallery_15603_1194_6698.jpg

Observing the room you can see the amount of ambient light supplied by the windows at the other side, where bench style seats line the wall. The artificial light is provided with ceiling mounted spot lights and a lamp on the credenza. During our 7.5 hour experience, it was difficult to notice night fall because of the led fixtures, located along the window wall, produced sufficient room light to make the space seem evenly lit. The installation of the Audio Spotlight did not make it into the first night of Alinea.

gallery_15603_1194_13502.jpg

gallery_15603_1194_6312.jpg

Next up, THE MENU.


Edited by yellow truffle (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

THE MENU

Scott, our server for the evening, and for everyone else at this dining room, is an alum of Trio. As to is a female server whose name I do not know, who was the head of the wait staff at chefg's last night at Trio. There are probably more people that have migrated to Alinea that are working different parts of the restaurant. I wonder if anyone knows the actual number.

Alinea offers its guest a three option, prix fixe menu, called, "One, Two and Tour." The One has 12 (twelve) courses, the Two has 8 (eight) courses and the Tour has 28 (twenty-eight) courses. They are priced at $110, $75 and $175 respectably. I don't know why the menu is not in sequential order, but I have a few guesses.

They also have a few "aperitif suggestions selected with PB&J in mind." This is the first course for all of prix fixe items. You have the ability to choose specific wines from their young, yet diverse offerings or you can take the wine pairing option with your meal. The Tour menu, brings out 28 glasses, for $125. The sommelier, Joe Catterson, and those involved in the food/wine pairing did a fantastic job. Perhaps I can post what we had when I am emailed the list (bump).

After diner beverages are coffee, tea and digestifs. The digestifs all sound wonderful and I probably would enjoy most of it, but after seven and a half hours and the clock telling us that it is 1:30 in the morning on a Thursday, I want to go home.

Evian water is poured into our glasses and I welcome the servers not asking if wanted a specific type/brand of water. For those who need constant shots of caffeine, the restaurant can provide, when asked a progression of iced teas, as both my guests had about four glasses of iced tea through out the evening.

I am sure we can discuss Alinea's beverage options for 7+ hours, but I think it's time to talk food. Following are the items for the Tour.

1. PB+J grape, peanut, bread

2. SOUR CREAM smoked salmon, sorrel, star anise

3. DUNGENESS CRAB raw parsnip, young coconut, cashews

4. HEART OF PALM in five sections

5. ASPARAGUS caramelized dairy, egg, bonito

6. TURBOT shellfish, waterchestnuts, hyacinth vapor

7. EGGPLANT cobia, crystaline florettes, radish pods

8. FRIED BREAD chocolate, adjukura, oregano

9. FROG LEGS spring lettuces, paprika, morels

10. BEEF flavors of A-1

11. HAZELNUT PUREE capsule of savory granola, curry

12. PROSCIUTTO passionfruit, zuta levana

13. FINGER LIMES olive oil, dissolving eucalyptus

14. MELON gelled rose water, horseradish

15. ENGLISH PEAS frozen lemon, yogurt, shiso

16. FOIE GRAS rhubarb, sweet onion, walnut

17. BURNT ORANGE avocado, picholine olives

18. BROCCOLI STEM grapefruit, wild steelhead roe

19. SNAPPER yuba, heavily toasted sesame, cucumber

20. LAMB NECK sunflower seeds, kola nu, porcinis

21. ARTICHOKE fonds d'artichauts cussy #3970

22. BISON beets, blueberries, smoking cinnamon

23. BACON butterscotch, apple, thyme

24. PINEAPPLE angelica branch, iranian pistachios

25. SASSAFRAS CREAM encapsulated in mandarin ice

26. STRAWBERRIES argan, lemon verbenna

27. LIQUID CHOCOLATE milk, black licorice, banana

28. SPONGE CAKE tonka bean, vanilla fragrance

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

THE MENU

gallery_15603_1194_13123.jpg

The menu is a single sided, nine page, 6" x 11" book, bound with a folded metal clasp. The sheets come in various thicknesses and translucency. The printing looks to be done in house, except for the white opaque ink. And then, their are the bubbles.

gallery_15603_1194_2002.jpg

A translucent sheet divider is located in between the list of items. This sheet has bubbles that looks like it has been watermarked onto the paper. These bubbles correspond to the items on the menu. We hoped the bubbles was something more than a visual graphic. And we were right. We were told that the size of the bubble is relative to the weight of the dish.

gallery_15603_1194_34436.jpg

So going back to why the menu is not in sequential order... It looks as if option One and Two will satiate a diner in fewer dishes and in different flavor experiences. The question that still remains unanswered is the position of the bubbles relative to the edge of the paper. Anyone have a guess?

gallery_15603_1194_3519.jpg

Note: The Tour has all the items from the One and the Two, except that the Two has one item the Tour does not offer. The 6th course for option Two is, "CHEDDAR mustard seed in three forms." Perhaps someone can chime in and talk about this.

Next up, THE COURSES.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Similar Content

    • By boilsover
      Yes, the vacuum blender, Luddites.  http://www.gadgetreview.com/what-is-a-vacuum-blender
       
      I am waiting for the WiFi version, so I can turn my smoothie into soup from Mars.
    • By boilsover
      Solid intermediate cook, here.  Not especially intimidated by elaborate preps.  But I'm new to SV, and would like a recommendation for a cookbook for guidance and exploration.
       
      I was thinking of Tom Keller's Under Pressure, but I'm wondering if the preps he includes may not be the most generally useful.  What do you all like, and why?
       
      Thanks!
    • By Chris Hennes
      On Nov. 7, 2017, Modernist Bread will finally arrive on my doorstep. Having preordered it literally the first day it was available, to say I'm excited about this book is a bit of an understatement. The team at The Cooking Lab have been gracious enough to give @Dave the Cook and me early electronic access to the book and so I've spent the last week pouring over it. I'm just going to start with a few initial comments here (it's 2600 pages long, so a full review is going to take some time, and require a bunch of baking!). Dave and I would also be happy to answer any questions you've got.
       
      One of the main things I've noticed about this book is a change in tone from the original Modernist Cuisine. It comes across as less "everything you know is wrong" and more "eighty bazillion other bakers have contributed to this knowledge and here's our synthesis of it." I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Myhrvold and company are now the most experienced bread-bakers in the world. Not necessarily in terms of the number of identical loaves they've produced, but in the shear number of different recipes and techniques they've tried and the care with which they've analyzed the results. These volumes are a distillation of 100,000 years of human breadmaking experience, topped off with a dose of the Modernist ethos of taking what we know to the next level.
       
      The recipes include weight, volume, and baker's percentages, and almost all of them can be made by both a home baker and someone baking in a commercial facility. The home baker might need to compromise on shape (e.g. you can't fit a full-length baguette in most home ovens) but the book provides clear instructions for both the amateur and professional. The recipes are almost entirely concentrated in volumes 4 and 5, with very few in the other volumes (in contrast to Modernist Cuisine, where there were many recipes scattered throughout). I can't wait for the physical volumes to arrive so that I can have multiple volumes open at once, the recipes cross-reference techniques taught earlier quite frequently.
    • By eG Forums Host
      Introduction

      Welcome to the index for the Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques, & Equipment topic, one of the largest and most influential topics on eG Forums. (The topic has been closed to keep the index stable and reliable; you can find another general SV discussion topic here.) This index is intended to help you navigate the thousands of posts and discussions to make this rich resource more useful and accessible.

      In order to understand sous vide cooking, it's best to clear up some misconceptions and explain some basics. Sous vide cooking involves vacuum-sealing food in a plastic bag and cooking it in a water bath at precise temperatures. Though it translates literally as "under vacuum," "Sous vide" is often taken to mean "under pressure," which is a misnomer; not all SV cooking involves food cooked in conditions that exceed atmospheric pressure. (See below.) In addition, calculations for SV cooking involve not only time and temperature but also thickness. Finally, due to the anaerobic conditions inside the bag and the low temperatures used, food safety issues are paramount.

      You can read the basics of SV cooking and equipment here. In the summer of 2005, Nathan Myhrvold (Society member nathanm) posted this informative, "I'm now going to answer my own initial questions" post, which addresses just about everything up to that point. For what came next, read on -- and be sure to order Nathan Myhrvold's highly anticipated Modernist Cuisine book, due in spring 2011.

      As with all indexes of on-going discussions, this one has limitations. We've done our best to create a user-friendly taxonomy emphasizing the categories that have come up repeatedly. In addition, the science, technology, and recipes changed over time, and opinions varied greatly, so be sure to read updated information whenever possible.

      Therefore, we strongly encourage you to keep these issues in mind when reading the topic, and particularly when considering controversial topics related to food safety, doneness, delta T cooking, and so on. Don't read a first post's definitive claim without reading down the topic, where you'll likely find discussion, if not heated debate or refutation, of that claim. Links go to the first post in a series that may be discontinuous, so be sure to scan a bit more to get the full discussion.

      Recipes were chosen based solely on having a clear set of information, not on merit. Indeed, we've included several stated failures for reference. Where possible, recipes include temperature and time in the link label -- but remember that thickness is also a crucial variable in many SV preparations. (See below for more information on thickness.)

      History, Philosophy & Value of SV/LTLT Cooking

      Over the years, we've talked quite a bit about SV as a concept, starting with this discussion about how SV cooking got started. There have also been several people who asked, Why bother with SV in the first place? (See also this discussion.) What with all the electronics and plastic bags, we asked: Does SV food lack passion? Finally, there have been several discussions about the value of SV cooking in other eG Forums topics, such as the future of SV cooking, No More Sous Vide -- PLEASE!, is SV "real cooking," and what's the appeal of SV?

      Those who embrace SV initially seek ideas about the best applications for their new equipment. Discussions have focused on what a first SV meal should be -- see also this discussion -- and on the items for which SV/LTLT cooking is best suited. There's much more along those lines here, here, and here.

      Vacuums and Pressure in Sous Vide Cooking

      As mentioned above, there has been great confusion about vacuums, pressure, and their role SV cooking. Here is a selection of discussion points on the subject, arranged chronologically; please note that later posts in a given discussion may refute earlier ones:

      Do you need a vacuum for SV cooking, and, if so, why? What exactly is a "vacuum"? Click here, here, and ff. Are items in vacuum-sealed bags "under pressure"? Does a vacuum sealer create a vacuum inside the bag? Do you really need a vacuum, or can you use ZipLoc bags? Also see here, here, and here. If "sous vide" means "under pressure," aren't the items in the bag under pressure? There is more along these lines to be found in this discussion.  

      The Charts

      We've collected the most important of many charts in the SV topic here. Standing above the rest are Nathan Myhrvold's charts for cooking time versus thickness and desired core temperature. We worked with him to create these three reformatted protein tables, for beef, fish, and chicken & pork.

      Nathan provides additional information on his charts here. Information on how to read these charts can be found in this post. For an explanation of "rest time" in Nathan's tables, click here.

      Other Society members helped out as well. Douglas Baldwin references his heating time table for different geometric factors (slab/cylinder/sphere) here; the pdf itself can be found here. pounce created a post with all three tables as neatly formatted images. derekslager created two monospace font charts of Nathan's meat table and his fish table.

      Camano Chef created a cumulative chart with information gathered from other sources including Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc. Douglas Baldwin shared this chart devoted to pasteurizing poultry. PedroG detailed heat loss and steady state energy consumption of sous vide cookers in these charts.

      Finally, there is also an eG Forums topic on cooling rates that may be of interest.

      Acknowledgment & Comments

      This index was built by Chris Amirault, Director, eG Forums. It was reviewed by the eGullet Society volunteer team as well as many Society members. Please send questions or comments to Chris via messenger or email.
       
       
    • By Paul Bacino
      Wonder if someone could get me in the ballpark..the amount of Transglutamase...to make scallop noodles..    %  I mean
       
      ill use a food processor..to purée the scallop..  then inject into a water or broth..to cook?
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×