Ate at Alinea the other night for the first time. Many posts on this board already. I can only add that we did the full tour and had an absolutely marvelous experience.
The one thing that struck me halfway through the meal was the cost. The full tour is $175, and has 23 courses. Dividing the number of courses into the cost of the meal, it turns out that each course costs an average of $7.60. To me, this is phenomenal. While some of the courses are, of course, rather small, still - if many of these dishes were in a very upscale tapas-style restuarant in NYC (where I live), they could easily be double that on a per course basis. It seems absurdly inexpensive to me to pay an average of $7.60 per course for these types of plates requiring this type of expertise in a setting this lovely with service this polished.
While some have complained in past threads about the exorbinant cost of Alinea, I would counter with an argument precisely the opposite - this is one of the best meal deals in Chicago based on price criteria!