So this post might be a tad self-indulgent, but I feel compelled to ask anyway. I ate at Alinea a night or two ago for the first time (also my first michelin-starred restaurant), and since I knew all the courses pretty well, my experience was a bit less exciting than it was for my dining companion. (The service was amazingly good, by the way.) This didn't bother me too much, but something else left me a bit confused. None of the courses, taste wise, were particularly special. Let me explain! Achatz, at least for my meal, proved masterful with regard to texture, temperature, and general complexity--but I never felt like I was eating anything that wowed me or left me craving more. There wasn't a flaw in the meal, but I was left feeling disappointed (especially considering its 3 michelin stars) in that nothing came close to blowing me away. For example, the "hot potato, cold potato" dish, which people often seem to praise, just tasted like a solid, well-seasoned potato soup--the temperature interplay was cool but the flavor was just "good." The same can be said for the truffle explosion dish, the quartet of shellfish at the beginning of the meal, the otoro dish...well, pretty much everything. It was all solid, well-executed, and interesting (texture, temperature, and complexity-wise), but the flavor left me unimpressed--it was good, occasionally great, but never special. I have my theories as to why this was (unfamiliarity with the taste of certain ingredients, familiarity with the experience which left me less entertained, no reference point from which to assess the food (this, I believe, is the main culprit), sensory overload being there the first time), and so I'm very much convinced that if I went a second time (not that I can afford it), I'd be able to appreciate the food--and flavor!--quite a bit more. My dining companion shared similar sentiments. Did anyone else have a similar experience, or am I just crazy?
(All that said, it was still the best meal of my life!)