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stereo.pete
09-16-2012, 11:56 AM
Long story short, a friend of my Wife asked if we wanted to go to Alinea with them and of course the answer was yes. From that very moment I was scrambling to make sure my work schedule would not prevent me from making this dinner a reality. Luckily for me the stars aligned, even under such short notice and I was able to accompany my wife to dinner. We met at Boka ( http://www.bokachicago.com )for cocktails before our reservation. Once our minds had been lubricated we marched next door to Alinea's very nondescript building. The door opened and we found the carpet had been replaced with sod for the summer menu and we were treated to glasses of lemonade floating in a small fountain on a table. The glasses clanked together creating the sound of a wind chime blowing in the summer breeze, pure genius. Enough prose for now, let's get to the food pictures.

Table Center Piece
http://imageshack.us/a/img89/3108/img0017bd.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

The center piece became the first course, which was a Steelhead Roe shooter with peach water, St. Germain and Kinome
http://imageshack.us/a/img405/6482/img0018jah.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Next up was an amazing presentation of driftwood and kelp with four bites, Oyster Leaf Mignonette, King Grab with passionfruit, heart of palm and allspice, Lobster with carrot and chamomile and finally a Razor Clam with shiso, soy, daikon and XO sauce.
http://imageshack.us/a/img222/9673/img0019sr.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Woolly Pig: Fennel, orange and squid
http://imageshack.us/a/img26/2015/img0020xzd.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Tomato, watermelon ice, chili and basil
http://imageshack.us/a/img689/2156/img0021uc.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Corn, huitlacoche, sour cherry and silk
http://imageshack.us/a/img214/2681/img0022ui.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Otoro, thai banana, sea salt and kaffir lime
http://imageshack.us/a/img217/7628/img0023xmx.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Chanterelle, ramps, asparagus, and smoked dates
http://imageshack.us/a/img692/593/img0024ukc.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Hot Potato Cold Potato (google a picture)

Lamb 60
http://imageshack.us/a/img16/7975/img0025fw.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

http://imageshack.us/a/img145/5964/img0026sn.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Black Truffle explosion, romaine and parmesan
http://imageshack.us/a/img441/3534/img0027tsc.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Anjou Pear, onion, brie, smoking cinnamon
http://imageshack.us/a/img4/4323/img0028ab.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Ginger prepared five ways
http://imageshack.us/a/img818/6781/img0029eq.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Blueberry, buttermilk, sorrel, and macadamia
http://imageshack.us/a/img42/3048/img0030lv.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

Balloon, helium and green apple
http://imageshack.us/a/img19/363/img0032yco.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

White Chocolate, strawberry, english pea, lemon
http://imageshack.us/a/img24/9527/img0033ct.jpg
By chicagopete (http://profile.imageshack.us/user/chicagopete) at 2012-09-16

stereo.pete
09-16-2012, 11:59 AM
As mentioned above, this is our second time to Alinea, we went last year for my birthday, which was in June so this was the second version of the summer menu that we have had. Here is a link to my original visit to Alinea so you can compare dishes, see the similarities and also see the differences. I can tell you that flavor wise it was just as good but they really took it to the next level in the presentation department.

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/1565-My-meal-at-Alinea?highlight=Alinea

P.S. I was very skeptical of the Lamb dish when I first heard about it but when it is presented it really is an amazing dish. First off, three beautiful cuts of perfectly cooked lamb. Starting from the left you have shank, then saddle and finally loin. The best way to deal with the 60 garnishes was to each take a turn and pick one going around the table. It was very fun because it forced all of us to describe the dish, which in turn became unique to our selections. Very cool and very smart, which never surprises me at Alinea.

knyfeknerd
09-16-2012, 12:36 PM
Thanks Pete, looks awesome. Don't know that I'll ever get to eat there, but your pics make me feel like I was there.

Johnny.B.Good
09-16-2012, 12:56 PM
Awesome.

Thanks for documenting another great experience for us, Pete!

Edit: How was the booze with dinner? and how long were you at the table?

Andrew H
09-16-2012, 01:14 PM
How was the balloon?

Eamon Burke
09-16-2012, 06:48 PM
One day, someone needs to explain to me how one goes about eating foams, dust, and sauces spread out on a plate.

I'm not being sarcastic.

mr drinky
09-16-2012, 07:10 PM
Well, in that last picture it is not a plate but a latex table cloth ;)

k.

AFKitchenknivesguy
09-16-2012, 07:12 PM
One day, someone needs to explain to me how one goes about eating foams, dust, and sauces spread out on a plate.

I'm not being sarcastic.

I was thinking the exact same thing.

RRLOVER
09-16-2012, 07:43 PM
One day, someone needs to explain to me how one goes about eating foams, dust, and sauces spread out on a plate.

I'm not being sarcastic.

I am with on this one..........Does a Gentleman even eat foam?????

Andrew H
09-16-2012, 08:08 PM
One day, someone needs to explain to me how one goes about eating foams, dust, and sauces spread out on a plate.

I'm not being sarcastic.

They use a spoon.

I'm not being sarcastic.

ecchef
09-16-2012, 08:18 PM
One day, someone needs to explain to me how one goes about eating foams, dust, and sauces spread out on a plate.

I'm not being sarcastic.

Maybe it's just me, but the Emporer looks a bit, well....naked. :sofa:

apicius9
09-16-2012, 08:27 PM
It does look great, but I am an ignorant when it comes to that type of cuisine. Pete and anybody else, please don't take personal offense, but in many cases, when I saw meals like this described, I was wondering whether eaters liked the combinations more out of relief - "It wasn't as bad as I had expected". ;) Although in this meal here I can see how most combinations play together. I am also wondering whether this approach in its attempt to involve the senses doesn't over-intellectualize at the same time. How educated do you have to be to eat this? And - no offense - you clearly have to be well off to eat at a place like this, even if it is on very rare occasions. So, is this food for rich white people? You can see, it stimulates the old social justice fighter in me, and whenever I see a meal like this I feel like I need meat loaf and gravy or a burger... Don't get me wrong, I admire the creativity and would try it myself if I had an opportunity. And I am sure there is much more to the experience than what you can capture with pictures of the food, like experiencing it with friends or being taken care of expertly. It just somehow hits the same nerve in me as unwearable $1,000+ shoes and other 'designer' items made for the sake of design but with hardly any connection to real life and real people anymore. Or maybe I am just grumpy today...

Stefan

bieniek
09-16-2012, 09:12 PM
Yes,

But what about kitchen knife handles for 200 dollars?

Now its me who dont want to faux pas "personal offence" but you see my point?

You can eat a 5.99 burger just a well as you can use 9.99 magnolia buffalo horn handle.
The ones who choose to pay 20x as much for a knife handle, would also eat better, I suppose.

I think its glamorous and pretty cool and theres no hate in me whatsoever and I think they are crazy chefs to put in the hours they do[which I adore and get motivation from], still I feel its over gimmicky like "the triumph of form over substance".

Anyways I would love to try, thanks Pete

heirkb
09-16-2012, 10:31 PM
They use a spoon.

I'm not being sarcastic.

The foams I get eating with a spoon. Sauces and dusts...I can only imagine eating those with my fingers.

Eamon Burke
09-16-2012, 10:39 PM
Maybe it's just me, but the Emporer looks a bit, well....naked. :sofa:

I am not sure who is the Emperor here...

I just don't understand. I'm not even being critical of it, I'm just saying, rather than see videos of how this kind of avant-garde food is made and served, I would like to see a series on how to get it off the plate and into your face-hole. I mean, I hear so much about it, and when I get the chance to eat at a place like this, I would like to know what to do other than lick the plate. Or do you lick the plate?

That lamb seems obvious--you poke a piece off the lamb, rub it on the plate, and eat it off the fork. But the two before it?? :scratchhead: Are you supposed to pick up the rock and eat it in one bite and lick the green dot off the rock? Surely you don't stab at food on a spherical rock. And the corn/sourcherry/huitlacoche thing instantly gives me memories of cleaning out the homes of deceased elderly. What do you do with it?

If it involves rubbing the plate with the side of a fork like an anorexic waiter, I will have to politely recuse myself.

mr drinky
09-16-2012, 11:32 PM
As one who has eaten at Alinea and enjoyed it amazingly, I find it sort of like food tourism. There are many types of tourists in this world. Some go look at birds around the world, others visit far-away foreign lands, you may want to ride a motorcycle to Sturgis, some others follow sports teams or musical groups, and yet others eat at unique and special restaurants. It would cost the same for a family of four to go to a pro football game these days as it would for my wife and I to go eat at Alinea. It's all about preferences. And to quote the great font of knowledge, wikipedia: "preferences refers to...ordering some alternatives, based on the degree of happiness, satisfaction, gratification, enjoyment, or utility they provide, a process which results in an optimal 'choice' whether real or imagined." We all prefer to waste our money in different ways ;)

k.

P.S. When I was at Alinea most people sitting around me were foreigners.

mr drinky
09-16-2012, 11:39 PM
...I would like to see a series on how to get it off the plate and into your face-hole. I mean, I hear so much about it, and when I get the chance to eat at a place like this, I would like to know what to do other than lick the plate. Or do you lick the plate?

Btw, when I was at Alinea they gave explicit instructions on how to eat each dish. There was no mystery and also no stress really. I felt less intimidated there than at the handful of French Michelin-starred restaurants I have been to.

k.

Namaxy
09-16-2012, 11:58 PM
Btw, when I was at Alinea they gave explicit instructions on how to eat each dish. There was no mystery and also no stress really. I felt less intimidated there than at the handful of French Michelin-starred restaurants I have been to.

k.

I fully agree. I've experienced significantly more 'attitude' in Paris eating pedestrian bistro cuisine ( and I speak French) than I have in my experiences at Alinea and Minibar. Garnish your oyster the wrong way and you get a severe Tsk Tsk....the few times I've been to Alinea they understand it's fantasy....it's not embarrassing when they explain what to do.

Having said all that...Modernist cuisine is not my favorite...but it is fun.

Eamon Burke
09-17-2012, 12:16 AM
when I was at Alinea they gave explicit instructions on how to eat each dish.

Oh. Well that sounds fun then.

apicius9
09-17-2012, 12:16 AM
Thanks Bieniek, I get the point, no offense taken (and the other interesting thing is that the ones who make the food and the ones who make the handles all work for minimum wage...). Maybe I really was too grumpy to post, sorry if I came across too critical. I like the added info that there are instructions on how to eat the creations, I am sure I would be grateful for that. And, just to make sure, my rumbling is in no way meant as a criticism or a discouragement to post pictures from events like this. I am admiring the creativity and I am happy to learn, I just don't feel that I did the complete idea, yet.

Stefan

stereo.pete
09-17-2012, 12:26 AM
Guys, thanks for taking the time to read my post and take a look through the pictures. First and foremost, going to cool restaurants is a hobby for me and I post these experiences in order to share them with people who enjoy cooking and food (all of you on this forum.) Bieniek summed it up perfectly, many of us on this forum spend crazy amounts of money on cutlery, while most of our family and friends look at us as if are crazy. I get the same responses from many people when I walk them through a dinner at Alinea or Next. Our hobbies are not for everyone, I just happen to have three that go very well together, kitchen knives, cooking and fine dining. If I brought my Dad to a restaurant like this he would not enjoy the event, he prefers more simple and rustic dishes but that doesn't mean he's lesser than me in any way. The age old cliche of different strokes for different folks simply rings true here.

To answer the question of how do you eat these dishes, well Alinea is a very relaxed setting and whatever works, goes. For example, the rock dish with the mushrooms, one of our dinner companions just picked up his rocks and was using it as the utensil itself. Class goes out the window and it's all about enjoying the overall experience. Frankly, I did not do Alinea justice by posting pictures with no detailed descriptions of the dishes and I apologize for that. The pictures by themselves can be confusing. Let me tell you that every dish or serving utensil was literally scraped clean as everything tastes delicious.

Alinea needs to be experienced to truly appreciate it, from walking in through the very unique main hallway, to being surprised by the hidden door, moving through the many exciting and unique courses to having Chef prepare your final course on your table. Pictures will never do it justice, I just enjoy sharing glimpses of these experiences to you guys as I understand not everyone has the opportunity to come to Chicago and go to Alinea.

stereo.pete
09-17-2012, 12:29 AM
Awesome.

Thanks for documenting another great experience for us, Pete!

Edit: How was the booze with dinner? and how long were you at the table?

Johnny, I almost missed your questions and I apologize.

First, we did not do wine pairings this time around as I did not see a real value you in it. Secondly our seating was at 7:00 and we left at 11:00, the courses were paced very nicely, there was never a long wait in between bites.

mr drinky
09-17-2012, 01:50 AM
Alinea needs to be experienced to truly appreciate it, from walking in through the very unique main hallway, to being surprised by the hidden door, moving through the many exciting and unique courses to having Chef prepare your final course on your table. Pictures will never do it justice, I just enjoy sharing glimpses of these experiences to you guys as I understand not everyone has the opportunity to come to Chicago and go to Alinea.

I agree fully, Pete. Well put.

I think Chef Achatz plays with unexpected flavors and incorporates aromas in no way I have ever experienced. I remember hearing him on NPR a while back and he said that he was trying to break the monotony of eating and get people to think about food and have fun. When I was there, I had this very strange feeling of being in Wonkaland with my golden ticket. It was playful, fun, and I laughed more than I have ever before at a meal.

k.

bieniek
09-19-2012, 02:37 PM
other interesting thing is that the ones who make the food and the ones who make the handles all work for minimum wage...

Always will stay like that, with every job that gets done to please others.

Poor people serve rich people, thats how it is.

Korin_Mari
09-21-2012, 10:41 AM
You have convinced me to go to Chicago just for that restaurant. "Anjou Pear, onion, brie, smoking cinnamon"... I can't even imagine what that tastes like.

How was the apple balloon? Was it as fun and delicious as it founds? :D

Carl
09-21-2012, 12:36 PM
The food looks incredible, even if much of it doesn't look like "food." I totally get the idea of Alinea even if it's not something I am "into." I mean, people run marathons instead of driving. People paint abstract pictures that are beautiful, even if I don't know what they are. We have 300+ mph dragsters that get .005 mile per gallon. We wear suits one day and jeans the next. Food doesn't have to be practical all the time, and the extremes to which places like Alinea go are an odd but necessary part of the growth of food. Some of the techniques developed wind up in more parctical places eventually, and some dont, and some of the flavor combinations and applications do as well. I, personally, would love to experience places like Alinea, not because I'm hungry for it, but because the experience is so alien to anything I've experienced before, and so rarely shared with anyone in my circle. Would I prepare food like that? If I relived my life as a chef, I probably would, but I wouldn't eat that way in the living of my life any more than you drive your dragster to work.

stereo.pete
09-21-2012, 01:41 PM
You have convinced me to go to Chicago just for that restaurant. "Anjou Pear, onion, brie, smoking cinnamon"... I can't even imagine what that tastes like.

How was the apple balloon? Was it as fun and delicious as it founds? :D

The apple balloon was delicious, however eating it is very messy. You are instructed to not touch it because it is incredibly sticky, so you place your lips on the balloon and inhale. The minute you do that the balloon collapses, most of which falls upon your face in a sticky mess. The best part of it is that you, the diner of course starts either laughing or talking about the experience but now your voice is under the influence of the helium, which in turn creates more laughter. They bring hot towels afterwards to wipe the excess from your face and hands. This course is about showing what is possible through innovation and technology.

Andrew H
09-21-2012, 02:02 PM
The apple balloon was delicious, however eating it is very messy. You are instructed to not touch it because it is incredibly sticky, so you place your lips on the balloon and inhale. The minute you do that the balloon collapses, most of which falls upon your face in a sticky mess. The best part of it is that you, the diner of course starts either laughing or talking about the experience but now your voice is under the influence of the helium, which in turn creates more laughter. They bring hot towels afterwards to wipe the excess from your face and hands. This course is about showing what is possible through innovation and technology.

Oh, when Mari asks the question you give her an answer. I see how it is, Pete. I see how it is.

:justkidding:

Korin_Mari
09-21-2012, 02:34 PM
The apple balloon was delicious, however eating it is very messy. You are instructed to not touch it because it is incredibly sticky, so you place your lips on the balloon and inhale. The minute you do that the balloon collapses, most of which falls upon your face in a sticky mess. The best part of it is that you, the diner of course starts either laughing or talking about the experience but now your voice is under the influence of the helium, which in turn creates more laughter. They bring hot towels afterwards to wipe the excess from your face and hands. This course is about showing what is possible through innovation and technology.

That sounds like so much fun. I saw it on Eater.com and was intrigued, but now that I saw your post, I definitely need to go one of these days! Everything looks so unique. :D

Andrew H
09-21-2012, 02:36 PM
That sounds like so much fun. I saw it on Eater.com and was intrigued, but now that I saw your post, I definitely need to go one of these days! Everything looks so unique. :D

It's coming to NYC for a week. Alinea and Eleven Madison Park are switching kitchens. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/eleven-madison-park-alinea_n_1837568.html

stereo.pete
09-21-2012, 05:00 PM
How was the balloon?

Oops, my apologies for missing your question there Andrew. :bigeek:

welshstar
09-21-2012, 05:40 PM
The thing is there are thousands of places to get great food in Chicago but there is only one Alinea.

Places like this are fantasy and are there to challenged the rules and be different, it's fantastic and I'm just jealous that I haven't been there yet. Going to the girl and goat next week which is equally great in its own way.

Alan

stereo.pete
09-22-2012, 09:43 PM
Welshstar, good to hear from a member who lives in Chicago, strangely enough we are a rarity in these parts. My wife went to Girl and the Goat last year and absolutely fell in love with the place, she brought home left overs that reheated incredibly well. Have fun!

apicius9
09-22-2012, 10:00 PM
Well, I just sent a job application to Northwestern. Not very hopeful, but if it comes to an interview in Chicago, I'll let you guys know and we can pick a restaurant ;)

Stefan

stereo.pete
09-22-2012, 10:10 PM
Well, I just sent a job application to Northwestern. Not very hopeful, but if it comes to an interview in Chicago, I'll let you guys know and we can pick a restaurant ;)

Stefan

Good luck with the interview Stefan, talk about a prestigious university. We need more members from Chicago, alas I have not been able to convince my friends into becoming knife nuts.

JohnnyChance
10-07-2012, 07:06 PM
Heading to Alinea in a couple hours.

mr drinky
10-07-2012, 07:09 PM
Lucky you. Have fun.

k.

Johnny.B.Good
10-07-2012, 08:19 PM
Heading to Alinea in a couple hours.

Pics or it didn't happen. ;)

stereo.pete
10-07-2012, 10:42 PM
Hopefully the fall menu will have started and we will see some different courses. Have fun!

JohnnyChance
10-08-2012, 03:25 AM
Hopefully the fall menu will have started and we will see some different courses. Have fun!

Nope. Quite similar. I suspect they are waiting until after EMP is gone to roll out the fall menu. Everything was fantastic, even kinda knowing what was coming. Good thing you took pics Pete, because my camera/phone died right when lamb 60 showed up.

hax9215
10-08-2012, 05:03 AM
Looking at these pictures and reading your posts I am coming to a conclusion; IM2O4TS. No offense to ANYONE, but maybe it is not a bad thing my time running the kitchen is passed!

Hax the Cook CLEAVERS RULE!!! :D