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“Still amazing... maybe heading in the wrong direction though”
Review of Alinea

Ranked #1 of 9,839 Restaurants in Chicago
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$150 - US$1,000
Cuisines: International
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Restaurant details
Good for: Special Occasion Dining
Dining options: Dinner, After-hours, Reservations
Neighbourhood: Lincoln Park
Reviewed 12 March 2012

We have been to Alinea three times; in 2008 (four stars), 2011 (five+ stars), and this past weekend (round up to five stars)

Alinea remains off-the-charts for creativity and presentation. Service is exceptional and flawless (i.e. art-of-the-table, would make any French person very happy).

This past visit, while still amazing, fell noticably short of our visit in 2011. What distinguished our 2011 visit as the single best meal we have ever had (we are foodies and regularly seek out top-end restaurants in France and any other place we visit), was that ~75% of the 18 courses tasted amazing. Which for my wife and I is a high batting-average for a high gourmet establishment. While I can appreciate and enjoy high-gourmet food at the end of the day, I find most dishes tend to taste "interesting" as opposed to "amazing". This is where Alinea in 2011 was set apart, in that most of the dishes were not only very creative and exceptionally well presented, but tastes absolutely amazing (i.e. Michelin three+ stars, in my mind).

Based on our visit this past weekend, our meal slipped back closer to the "interesting" tastes as opposed "amazing" tastes, with probably only about one-third of the 17 courses tasting amazing.

Still worth the visit and experience if you are a foody (if not I wouldn't recommend it, however the 2011 would have won over many non-foodies). I hope Alinea returns to the way we experienced it in 2011.

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Thank Martin S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 10 March 2012

You will not see a sign in front of the restaurant; if you want to eat here, you will know the address and where it is. I have never had such wonderful service and food in any restaurant anywhere in my life. The menu was outstanding and nothing I could write here would do it justice. My advice if you want to eat here is that you budget the money for the visit, it will be one of the most expensive tabs you will ever have, but in return you will not just have a meal, you will have an experience to remember for the rest of your life. You will probably want to make arrangements a few weeks in advance depending on their bookings and you will want to be sure that it is a date that will not be affected by any surprises - this is something that once you book, you want to fulfill. Then go and enjoy the experience as no other. All during the meal, they will bring beautiful things to eat to you and explain what you are eating. You will be amazed at the food and the skill with which they have made everything so perfect. Plan it, book it, ENJOY it as this will be one of the best experiences you will ever have.

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2  Thank ChicagoLooper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 March 2012

I know this sound crazy, but for the best food in Chicago, Alinea's the place. Hard to get reservations, but it is worth every bit of stress it takes, to get a seat. They know how to cook!

Thank wheeler7252
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 February 2012

A birthday present to start off my 27th year of life was nothing short of spectacular. I wonder what they would say if I asked for 2 of everything, because after every bite all I could think was "I want more"! As small as the portions were, 16 courses, 3 hours, and several hundred dollars later I was completely full and satisfied.

We opted for the wine pairings with the meal and I was happy we did, this is a once in a lifetime experience-why not go all out. The regular wine pairing is 3/4 the price of the menu but they also offer a vintage reserve pairing that is the full price of the menu-we went with the reserve pairing and it was great. I'm sure the regular pairing would be just as good, but we couldn't help but just go all out.

The courses are each superb in their own right but the pork belly spring roll, black truffle explosion, hot potato/cold potato, lamb from elysian fields farm, and wagyu beef (Tournedo) were my favorites. One of the extra cool courses was the pheasant that was skewered on the end of burning oak leaves-the smell of burning leaves just carried us right into the fall season.

The unassuming facade, exquisite plate preparation with painstaking detail, and layer after layer of flavor that consumes your taste buds really just blew us away. There were waitstaff everywhere, refilling our wine glasses and immediately whisking away our empty glasses and plates to prepare for the next course. The sommelier was very informative and they were able to print the names of the wines we had on the menu we took home.

An awesome, once in a lifetime experience not to be soon forgotten.

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4  Thank ChiGalLauren
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 February 2012

Very Expensive, very unusual and if you can afford it, a totally other-worldly food experience. There is nothing like it in Chicago, and perhaps only two or three others in the world. I am not kidding. Be prepared for the unusual and the poetry of food.

Thank umber
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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