Chicago >Food & Dining > Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL | Directions 6061441.913546 -87.648309
Wednesday To Sunday From 05:30 PM To 09:30 PM
Neighborhoods: North Side, Lincoln Park
Alinea is, without question, the greatest modernist restaurant in America, and one of the best in the world. But is it the best restaurant in America, period? It's wildly expensive and a tasting there is a major, multi-hour ordeal, and you may not love everything equally. But in terms of sheer genius, drama, and breathtaking originality, it has no equal.
What's left to say about Alinea? It's the best restaurant in America and is guaranteed to blow your mind.
Too Expensive – Do not order the wine pairings with your meal. We had the 12 course tasting and both ordered the wine pairing "for about an additional 35%" (exact words of the waitress). This put a diner for 2 people near $700!
The meal was interested and we thought about four out of the twelve dishes were really spectacular and actually would have been ok if we had just ordered a bottle of wine to share or a glass even. However without pressure we went all out and both got the wine pairings and that was SOOO not worth the money.
We've been to numerous tastings in various cities and would not go back to this one.
The three stars in for originality!
What an experience – This restaurant is absolutely the best place I have ever been to. The setting is contemporary, but at the same time it was very comfortable. The staff was extremely accommodating and unpretentious - in short I believe they are experts at what they do, and while they know it, they truly want you to have an out of this world experience. I couldn't agree less with people that said they were rude - they even let us tour the back kitchen because we were so impressed. However, the greatest part of the experience was what it should have been - the food. I've never been to a restaurant where I laughed during consumption, or seen the look of absolute surprise on the faces of my companions. In short, the food is so exciting and well paired you have to try it to appreciate it. I highly suggest going all out and getting the full tasting menu accompanied with the wine parings - you won't be disappointed. If this isn't the best dinner of your life you are either a wanna-be foodie trying to knock the top guy just because or you don't have taste-buds.
A Trip – What can you say about one of the worlds top fine dinning places??
My Girlfriend and I went for my Birthday last year. We ordered the 12 course with wine parrings. It took around 4 hours. It is a very difficult building to find as there is a sign in the window (about 2' by 1') right behind where the vallets stand.
The food was good. Some of the "creations" I would say missed. I'm not much for gels and other pectin bsaed foods (I am a R&D Food Scientist). I don't think it is very challenging, or tasty for that matter, to make different gels, but that was a small part of the meal, and only my snobby oppnion.
Back to Dinner. It was nice, the service was out of this world. If you started to think about it, it was on your table. The Decour is interesting. They do not cram 100 tables in a room, but rather 3-5 to keep the noise down. The desserts were very nice, and the presentation behind the food was very well thought out.
My big complaint is after tipping over 20% on our meal (over $100) we were getting dirty looks on our way out!!! I did not spend over $600 on dinner for two people to have then judge me on leaving a very acceptable tip!!! That put a huge damper on our evening and I can assure everyone we will not be back. I have been to other Fine Dinning"restaurants with lessor prepaired foods, but had a much more enjoyable time. For the money, go somewhere else 8 times and watch Alice in Wonderland (if you walk in the front door you will understand)
It's a fun place to try and a place to be seen. I would not recomend this place to, to many people unless you are going on your company.
The best dining experience I have ever had. – My boyfriend and I dined at Alinea on a Sunday evening after a weekend of anticipation. In short, it was an incredible experience and absolutely worth every penny. We had the tasting menu (12 courses) with wine pairings. Our dinner took about 2.5 hours. In some reviews, I have read that people were disappointed with the amount of food and I have to say I don't agree. We were both extremely satisfied. The courses are small, yes, but rich and cooked with real butter and oil so as to be rich and tasty. There are also 4-5 different breads in the bread service -- also small, but I didn't finish the last two because I wanted to enjoy the dessert courses. Our service was exceedingly friendly, knowledgeable, unobtrusive and well-paced. Although the method of eating some of the courses needs to be explained, it is never done so in a condescending manner. I would definitely recommend the wine pairings -- at $110 per person, it certainly will bulk up your check, but the expertise and care shown in choosing the wines is worth the price. We would both return in a heartbeat, especially as the seasons change to see what is new on the menu. Highly, highly, HIGHLY recommended.
Flash over substance – A friend and I went last week while in town. We arrived and we're seated promptly at 9:15pm. We went for the tasting with the wine pairing. The presentation of the food was interesting and flashy AT FIRST. However, we quickly tired of "jello" like substances and small cubes of various ingredients (i.e. meats, veges, weird jellos). The food was good, bad, confusing, exciting, bizarre, over sold, too busy and uncatagorically small. It was like if they wowed you with the description and all the smoke and mirrors, you would somehow forgive the small bites, overuse of gelatin, small cubes and inflated pricetag. On a few occassions my dinner companion or I would get a half melted plate of whatever conconction was being served (i.e. the frozed mozzarella, the gelatin ale)....as if one dish had been sitting a bit too long while they prepped the other.
The services felt rushed and ill timed. At times the sommalier would barley get the wine description out and the server would interrupt him with a plate....
This restaurant is #1...who the heck are the people who voted for this? Did they not taste the food? Are they just pretentious foodies who jumped on the bandwagon beacuse someone else told them i t was cool? I dont get it....
Save you money. Go somewhere else......
We also went to
Boka - loved it!!
NoMi - boring, bland and tastless.
Hot Chocolate - thickest, richest, hot chocolate ever ...I recommend adding a shot of espresso to it.
Bongo Room - great breakfast...but enormous portions. My advice - split it, whatever it is!
Nacional27 - skip it...like the Miami atmosphere but the limited menu lacked a "stand out". It needed a bit of spice!
Single Best Dining Experience of My Lifetime! – Alinea HANDS DOWN is the best restaurant I have ever dined at from an overall experience. While not all of the 24 courses are "to die for", the overall night was spectacular and savory.
I open by saying that they accommodated my picky food preferences very well, and were able to come up with excellent substitute ingredients that didn't ruin the integrity of the dish.
Despite the fact that men are required to wear jackets, the atmosphere is far from stuffy. The staff is as close to perfection as you can get, yet entirely approachable and unpretentious. Little details make all the difference, much like staying at a 5 star hotel. Silverware is presented on pillows, fresh napkins quickly replaced used ones everytime you get up from the table, your glasses never go empty, special requests are not forgotten, and on and on.
My friend and I enjoyed the 24 course tour menu, which quite literally takes 4 hours+ to complete. The service pace was perfect, as were the portions, and we never felt rushed, too slow, etc...
Of the 24 courses, 3 of them were the very best things we have ever eaten in our lives. Approximately 4 more courses were what I would consider "phenomenal". 2 courses were downright unapproachable and cloyingly rich. Perhaps that's just a personal preference though. The remaining 15 courses were, dare I say, "average" in the taste department. However, the combination of unique ingredients and presentation made them every bit as enjoyable as the rest of the meal.
Unlike some previous reviewers, I very much appreciated that they explained how to eat the food, what the history of the wines are, etc...The fact that the staff was an interactive part of the meal is part of what makes Alinea so special.
Ask for a kitchen tour after - you will love it!
- Tour + Wine + Coffee + Tax + Tip is now $540 per person, which is RIDICULOUS by any standards
- A few too many "foams"....certainly not my favorite food preparation.
The emperor's new clothes.... – On a recent visit to Chicago, I was excited to have gotten a reservation at Alinea. I had heard a great deal about the chef and his food, and since I've yet to get a coveted reservation at Per se in NY (my hometown) I was eager to try Chicago's much-celebrated restuarant. Unfortunately, my expectations were not met, and the whole evening was a bit too contrived for me. From the sliding door upon arrival to the hushed tones of the wait-staff that take themselves way too seriously, the evening was a disappointment. The food was good, but not outstanding. You don't get a menu so you don't know what's coming out, and there's no full bar, so you really have to go with the wine pairings (which were very good). It's just as well, since it would be impossible to select a proper wine to accompany the many courses. Maybe it's me, but I just don't go for having to be instructed on "how" to eat my food, which it was happens with just about every course. I have spent $600 for dinner for 2 before at top restaurants and have done so gladly, since I really do appreciate a fine dining experience; it's just that Alinea wasn't one of them. Everything was okay, but just not stellar. And for the prices charged, the bar should be set at stellar or above. I can still tell you every course I had at a meal at Lespinasse 5 years ago, and yet I'd be hard-pressed to recall more than 2 or 3 of the courses I had at Alinea just 1 week ago. Overall I'd say that Alinea is a good restaurant, but I'm at a bit of a loss to "get" what all the fuss is about. My meals that same week at MK and Copperblue in Chicago were better and much less expensive, and I'd recommend those restaurants over Alinea if you're visiting (or live in) Chicago.
Best in the World – So I ate at Alinea several months ago, and am surprised to see some poor reviews on this site. Hands down, Alinea is the best restaurant in the United States. If you can go to one restaurant, go to Alinea. And yes, I'm from San Francisco and am quite familiar with Gary Danko, French Laundry, Chez Panisse and all the other wonderful food offered in the Bay Area. BTW, these places are wonderful too, but Alinea is truly the most innovative with their food, creating magical treats for the fine diner. Alinea is so special -- it's hard to find the words to describe their food to a mass audience. Go there, try it, you've never experienced anything like it.
My only caution is this -- beware the wine pairings. The wines are great, but there's just so much quantity...don't drink too much too early.
OK, enough said. For folks who don't enjoy Alinea, don't return. Try the more gimmicky Charlie Trotters and enjoy your curry conch chowder basil red finger lime foamed layer cheescake there. Ugh. You'll leave more open reservations for us true foodies.
Seriously, the best genuine advice for folks is to enjoy Alinea -- it's expensive, and it's sublime.
What a wonderful experience! – My wife and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary at Alinea. We opted for the 24 course tasting with wine pairing. It was awesome! The food was incredible and the service was top notch. Our dinner lasted about 4 1/2 hours - however, it never felt long or drawn out.
Memorable and Fabulous – excellent food, service and wine. go when you can spend money on a great memorable meal without worrying about the bill which will come out to 800+ for 2. Do not skip the wine pairing...they are all excellent. Service is flawless and far from pretentious. If you are a steak and potatoes type or if you are watching money, this place is not for you. This is a place for the adventorous foody type who loves wine.
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