Chef Grant Achatz is absolutely BRILLIANT. Dining at Alinea was one of the most playful, inventive, and sense-provoking meals that I have ever had. Not to mention that the food was outstanding and simply delicious. Out of the 18 magnificent courses, my favorites were the Otoro, Hot Potato (I could have eaten 20 of those), and the White Chocolate interactive dessert (see photos and descriptions below). It was truly an unforgettable night, and I cannot wait to go back again in a year or two to experience their latest creations. If you have not already read Grant Achatz’s book, “Life, On The Line”, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy — it shares his incredible journey as a chef as well as his heart-wrenching battle with tongue cancer. Chef Achatz’s unique perspective and limitless passion for both food and life are truly inspiring.
Alinea: 1723 North Halsted Street, Chicago, IL
The menu on June 8, 2012. The circles represent the amount of food (larger circles are bigger portions). The closer an item is to the left side of the menu, the saltier it is. The further to the right, the sweeter it is.
OTORO ~ thai banana, sea salt, kaffir lime
HOT POTATO ~ cold potato, black truffle, butter
(Instructions for eating this dish: hold it in one hand and slowly pull the pin down through the wax bowl until the hot potato, black truffle, chive, and butter are immersed in the cold potato soup. Then eat the whole thing at once. Wow. It was the most amazing bite ever!)
The lamb dish’s 60 mini accompaniments! We weren’t told what anything was, so we just dug right in and started tasting.
BLACK TRUFFLE ~ explosion, romaine, parmesan
(We were told to eat it all at once… the dish underneath had no bottom!)
BLUEBERRY ~ buttermillk, sorrel, macadamia
(After eating all of the food, we were given thick metal straws to drink the liquid below!)
BALLOON ~ helium, green apple
(We were instructed to put our mouths on the balloon and inhale — this gave us Mickey Mouse voices for a few minutes Then we ate the remainder of the balloon, which was similar in consistency to a fruit roll up, but way tastier!)
WHITE CHOCOLATE ~ strawberry, english pea, lemon, honey dew, pansies
(The waiter first placed a latex tablecloth on the table. Then one of the chefs came out and started tossing frozen ingredients all over the place. The grand finale was the theatrical dropping of a large white chocolate egg onto the table so that it cracked into pieces. Looks crazy, but tasted delicious!)