For a restaurant, particularly one of this class, it has been in operation since 2005, which is an eternity in the culinary industry. It is difficult for a chef to keep his or her edge and sharpness, particularly after reaching the pinnacle of the culinary industry. As we prepared for our supper at Alinea, we worried whether we had missed the restaurant’s peak, similar to how we felt after eating at The French Laundry a few months before. Achatz and his business partner, Nick Kokonas, have spent a lot of time thinking about how to keep Alinea contemporary and innovative while still paying honor to the restaurant’s rich heritage. When they closed the restaurant in 2016, they totally refurbished it, transitioning it from a whimsical, contemporary aesthetic to a more classical, timeless one. In addition, the experience shifted. It will take anywhere between 2 and 3 hours depending on which portion of the restaurant you are in, as opposed to the previous three to five-hour experience at the old Alinea.
“Do any of us really want to sit down for a five-hour supper anymore?” says the group. Chef Achatz recently posed this question to the Chicago Tribune. No, we don’t, and Alinea, in particular, was instrumental in teaching us the wonders of a two-hour “theatre” performance. As we walked in, we waited for the figurative curtain to open, and then we spent the next two hours taking part in a production that left us absolutely satisfied and wanting just a little bit more at the end, which is precisely the sensation you want when you leave a fantastic dining establishment. When it comes to making sure that diners are completely satisfied at the conclusion of their dinner, many high-end restaurants don’t spend nearly enough time planning it. This is an art form in and of itself, and the only other restaurant that we’ve seen that has done it right, apart from Alinea, is Noma in Copenhagen, which is a culinary mecca.
Alinea has been able to achieve something that only a few restaurants have been able to do: adapt to the changes and remain relevant 14 years after it first opened its doors. Was Alinea a better performer in 2011? Who knows, but it was very fantastic in 2019, and I would go back in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself.
Cuisine Type: Contemporary, Creative
Scallop noodle with Thai curry sauce and dried scallop tuile
Beef Rossini, A5 Miyazaki tenderloin with foie gras, truffled jus, and french fry emulsion
Wood, hoja santa ice cream with tamarind meringue, grilled pineapple, and white chocolate crumble
Address: 1723 N. Halsted St., Chicago, 60614, United States
Phone: +1 312-867-0110
Website: Alinea Official Site
Hours: Closed: Monday, Tuesday, lunch : Wednesday-Sunday
Michelin Stars: 3