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Restaurants & Bars 42

Alinea -- know b4 u go or caveat emptor

Dave | May 30, 200603:57 PM

This weekend my wife and I visited Chicago (from NJ) -- a pilgrimage we make about 2-3 times a year for a long weekend of food, jazz, architecture and fun. (IMHO, Chicago, my favorite US city, is a less pretentious NYC.) Last year for our "special" meal we had a chef's table at Tru which was an amazing experience.

This year for our special meal we made reservations at Alinea (after learning Trio had shut down). (Can't say if a Trio experience would have been much different.) We did the 24 course tour with wine pairings.

We are pretty adventurous diners, having been fortunate enough to live and travel around the world; so neither of us has a squeamish or conservative palate.

We were really disappointed by the experience. Perhaps "Scientific Cusisine" where powders, emulsions and meshed pillows with orange infused air is not our bag, and if it's yours, we fully respect that. But science should be the method not the main course on each plate. (My use of "plate" is beyond generous; each course ranges from nickel-sized to silver-dollar-sized.)

But before you go, you should know that after $750 (for 2) you will be intoxicated (if you do the wine pairings) but still very hungry and, I believe, unsatisfied and disappointed.

The service while adequate, was far more pretentious than I believe is really necessary. After all, people are spending $200-$400/person and making reservations well in advance so their bona fides are pretty much established when they sit down at the table.

More importantly, the portions are so incredibly small that my wife commented she never felt she actually chewed the entire evening -- that is, of course, until we went back to the hotel, changed and went to Five Faces for Chicago Style hot dogs at 1:30am.

I write this because $750 is a lot of money for a dining experience where you're talking about what hot dog place will still be open mid-way through the meal.

Finally, my wife who is an interior designer was not very impressed with the "corporate stark" style design the owners chose.


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