(Note: This thread was split from here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7881... -- The Chowhound Team)
I had a kind of similar experience at Alinea in January.
The final dessert course is this elaborate chocolate affair.
They put a special mat/tablecloth down, and proceed to draw on it with all manner of sauces and things, and bring out a big freeze-dried chocolate mousse wad that they then crack at the table. you eat it directly off the table.
When complete, it looks kind of like a Kandinski painting.
I did not expect to see Grant Achatz at all that evening. But he came out and performed this ritually at every one of the tables in our room (about 5 of them) except for our one table. Another chef came out for us.
I would have been pretty excited to meet the chef, and in the end I did feel slighted and it really detracted from the experience. I went so far as to call the restaurant a week later, because it was sticking with me, and basically was told what everyone is saying here. There's only so much time, it's not something he always does, etc. And that's all reasonable and fine. But it left a bad feeling and as good as the meal was, I'd feel odd about going back.
Full disclosure: I might not have called if that were my only complaint. But I felt the wine pours were super stingy; I was stone cold sober at the end of the meal having paid $250 a head for their premium wine pairings. So I wanted to complain about that. The manager did reimburse me for the difference between the regular and premium pairings, which seemed fair. I might not have called if it were only one problem or the other; but given both, I wanted to make sure they knew.
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