Alinea: The Progression
If you are planning on attending Alinea: The Progression, please read this afterwards. It will be a richer experience if you don’t know what lies ahead. This is NOT the new Alinea, but a FUN, temporary, Alinea dinner series they are doing before the original Alinea reopens.
Alinea restaurant has been closed during their remodel. In the meantime, the staff has been busy and kept employed by holding pop-up dinners in Spain and Miami, working at Alinea Group’s other establishments, and opening another restaurant called Roister.
On April Fools’s Day, Alinea released tickets for the first in a series of highly experimental “extremely limited” dinners promising nothing but “something unedited and spontaneous.”
ADDED 1:42PM April 11, 2016
From the Alinea Website:
“A highly experimental dinner hosted by the Alinea team, The Progression is an informal evening of food and beverage highlighting concepts and ideas that we simply cannot produce anywhere else. Created over the course of only a few weeks in collaboration with the visual artist Adam Siegel, The Progression is unedited and spontaneous, an improv version of dining.
We hope that stripping away the constraints of formal dining will allow our team to conjure new concepts and ideas that will, once edited, make their way to the new Alinea.”
Sold only in pairs, my friend and I were among 20 people experiencing the first of these dinners titled, “Alinea: The Progression” which was held in the former Moto restaurant space in Fulton Market District, Chicago.
Art for Food’s Sake
Click on the collage then swipe through the photos to read about our first beverage of the night, a communal champagne punch.
The Quieter You Become, The More You Can Hear
How do your senses shift when one of your other senses is interrupted? For this next course, the music was turned off abruptly as the lights were brightened which immediately silenced the room.
Click on the collage, then swipe through the photos to find out what we weren’t allowed to do during this course.
We continued to eat in silence, paying attention to textures, temperature, taste. How does the stimuli of conversation, music, taking photos or other diners affect your dining experience?
What We See Is What We Look For
We ate this next course in complete darkness with the song “Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones at a fairly loud level There was nothing to look at and it was too loud to chat, so I focused more on the flavors and the textures. Was the dish intensely flavored or was my sense of taste heightened by the darkness which made it seem more intensely flavored? Does seeing your food affect how it tastes?
The Final Destination
Click though the collage to see dessert.
Food for Thought
This was unlike any dining experience I ever had before. It was bold, innovative, risky, overstimulating, and fun. I loved every minute of it but admittedly, some of it not until the following day. It was new for me to move from room to room with each area having different environments and sensory levels.
I was a late bloomer to the Alinea dining scene but from my initial visit, I decided I would return every chance I could. I always feel very relaxed and comfortable at Alinea because I trust everything they do. It’s not easy for me to be anywhere with a quiet mind, but somehow it happens when I dine at Alinea and it tastes better than doing yoga.
Alinea: The Progression served as a good transition until the new Alinea is reborn. I am enthusiastic and (finally) open to the changes, no matter what they may be.
We strive for synchronicity as givers or recipients. Once it is achieved at both ends, how do we know when and if it’s time to grow and move beyond something that has finally reached a level of comfort with predictable results? In order to innovate, is it better to proceed with analytical caution or is it better to remove and break the barriers?
The only way to know is to try.
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8 Replies to “Alinea: The Progression”
Thank you for chronicling this journey. I am thrilled to be able to revisit the experience through these pictures in a much clearer way than my poor, faulty memory would allow.
You’re welcome! I know what you mean!
Great account. We were there the next night, Saturday, with 8PM reservation. We will save this post and pics to help etch this amazing night into memory. Our kitchen drink was different (Tecate beer with hot sauce), and maybe a diiferent black meal (not sure, as we couldn’t get a good look at it 😊 ). Our experience and reaction was otherwise pretty similar – overwhelming and amazing. We went to Roister immediately after for fois gras candy bar and then descended into food coma.
Thanks for sharing,
thank you! we walked into roister afterwards too, but were overstimulated and I just needed/wanted to process everything so we didn’t stay for a bite. unique experience! and you’re welcome! those foie gras candy bars are phenomenal.
We only realized after we were done, that the whole whimsy of carrying our bags full of booze was undoubtably a response to the limitation that the Moto space doesn’t have a liquor license. We bought our drinks at Aviary, and then it was essentially a BYOB event. So clever, and so much in keeping with the Alinea mystique that they hid this fact.
It’s nice to be able to share impressions of this crazy experience. Right now, the Progression veterans club is a pretty small and exclusive group. Thanks for providing this forum. I hope others will chime in.
Very interesting and creative, indeed!
Great write up, and thanks for chronicling. I loved it experience!
I see you are in Bay Area, I am going in June for anniversary. Top recommendations?
Thank you Seamus. I used to live in the Bay Area but am based out of Chicago. For a very special occasion dinner in the Bay Area, Saison or Quince and if in the Napa Valley region, The Restaurant at Meadowood. I would even go as far as recommending the Spa at Meadowood, as I was there last week.
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