People fly in from all over the world to dine at Alinea. With recent explosive restaurant growth and the James Beard Awards held in Chicago, people are starting to linger a few more days to explore more culinary treasures.
You will never leave hungry after eating at Alinea. As I predicted, the couple from CA extinguished their late night idea of going to Au Cheval afterwards. It was still fun to ask them after dinner if they were still planning on going.
Alinea, 1723 N Halsted Ave, Chicago, IL
The kitchen at Alinea
Entering culinary wonderland. As you enter the hallway, an automatic door opens on your left to enter the restaurant.
Satsuma (Asian citrus), star anise, saffron, murray river salt
Various Spanish dishes representing the photo cards. It’s very fun to eat something with the flavors intact but with a different texture and appearance. Bocadillo, bread, jamon iberico, manchego. Gilda, guindilla de ibarra, anchovy, olive. Jamon Iberico, cantaloupe, salt, espelette. Tortilla, potato, onion, egg. Patatas Bravas, paprika, chili, garlic.
Gilda, guindilla de ibarra, anchovy, olive
Brook Trout, roe, butternut squash nest, thai basil, marigold, yellow curry, thai banana puree, pickled carrot puree
Graffiti. Meringue, matsutake, pickled shallot, sherry, pickled shallots, parsley spray paint
The next chapter of our meal was brought out and was made up of several courses
Sweet Corn, uni butter togarashi, nori salt, lime zest. Tororo Kombu, hamachi tartare sandwiched in between woven dehydrated ice fish and shredded kambu seaweed.
The orchids and shishito peppers dangling above our table were cut down and added to our fire.
It was optional to sear the skewered unagi, pickled plum and sesame seeds over the fire but how could we not partake in this delightful campfire?
Once the fire went out, the “logs” were removed and cut open to reveal the ingredients to build the next dish.
The culmination of our “campfire.” Chicken, orchid flower and shishito pepper. Chicken liver. Fried seaweed Japanese ginger, cherry pea flour, topped with chicken dashi that was keeping warm in the black kettle all along.
Colorful duck course. On the glass platter is a duck foie gras with quince and sage in a pastry shell boat. There is a sage and chestnut foam soup in the base of the glass platter that you drink with a metal straw. The leaves were singed for aroma and the breaded bite was duck leg and persimmon. The log was also burned to add an autumn feel and sitting atop was duck breast, grapefruit and cinnamon.
Hot potato topped with truffle. Cheese cube, butter cube. Truffle-infused cold potato soup. You pull the pin downwards so the ball and cubes drop into the soup combining the varying mixture of flavors, textures, and temperatures.
White truffle, risotto, parmesan, brown butter. Moments like this still take my breath away and make me constantly strive for “balance” in my otherwise predictably linear, but wonderful and rich life. It always makes my sometimes 2-hour drive in traffic worth it to be here at Alinea. My commute was not as long as my dining mates though! These plates were brought out covered with tall glass glass domes and four servers removed them in perfect unison. Truffles and brown butter were added table side.
Can you find the olive cake in the tree? Olive cake, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper.
The olive cake could be used to soak up the sauce in this dish. Lamb, caper leaf, grapes,olives
Black Truffle Explosion
Wagyu, rosemary, avocado, caviar lime
Parsnip, burgundy truffle, vanilla, orange
Bacon, butterscotch, thyme, black pepper
Green apple helium balloons. I always get worried how to eat this without getting it in my hair and all over my face. But this time I decided to go for it and told everyone we would inhale our balloons and talk at the same time. Of course I was the only one who did it while my friends watched and in my unintentional helium voice I exclaimed, “Don’t leave me hanging!”
Executive Chef de Cuisine, Mike Bagale presenting the final course. Tropical Fruit, rum, vanilla, kaffir lime.
The size of the circle shows the relative size of the dish. The darker the circle, the stronger the flavor. The left to right positioning indicates savory to sweet.
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Alinea | 1723 N Halsted St, Chicago IL | 312 867 0110
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