Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chicago ! Alinea, Again.

I know it might be a bit much to visit Alinea two times in a matter of months, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta to do, and sometimes what you gotta do is eat 15 more exquisite and creative dishes from the world's best restaurant.

Although several of the dishes were the same from my prior visit with Diana, I was delighted to find so many were new, beginning with the first course: tangy ossetra caviar with caper gelee and brioche foam.  The foam was the absolute best, as you can imagine, capturing the essence of buttery bread with every tiny bubble.

Second was the fun little salsify dish,

the prize intertwined into the nest of twigs.  I let the boy have a go in the search.  And then we ate the amazingly beef-jerkyesque salsify with great satisfaction.

Brown buttered skate was presented on a beautiful paper-like porcelain plate, the flesh deliciously tender with hints of lemon.

Heirloom tomatoes were blanketed by ashed goat cheese, disguised on the piece of slate like rock and accented by a creative spray of licorice graffiti.  Definitely a dish for the goat cheese lovers.

One of my new favorites was the corn, which appeared...like corn.

Corn reinvented to the core(n) of course - underneath the grilled layer of the sweetest corn was the sweetest corn pudding mixed with truffle oil, manchego cheese and chunks of ham fat (yum).

Rhubarb truffles were again grated atop earthy celery root, celery branch and sweet red wine reduction.

Perfectly poached lobster was served like a work of art, an autumn palette with rounds of beautiful curry sauce, coconut cream and delicately sliced cucumber and grapefruit squares.

I could eat ten of these. All day. Everyday.

Sweetbreads took the form as Chinese takeout once more, flavored with orange citrus and ginko nut, and served with cinnamon sticks, sweet warmth wafted from the charred ends to heighten the experience.

A bubble plate of lily bulbs, rambutans and lime caviar served to cleanse our palates - rosy and refreshing.

The following course repeated the burning coals on the table, hiding the meat treats inside,

instead of wagyu beef, which Diana and I adored last time, pork belly was hidden within.  The slab of tender pork was served on the midnight stump with very charred parsnip, black trumpet mushrooms and inky kombu seaweed crisps.

Another personal favorite of the meal is the hot potato / cold potato dish, a time sensitive affair which requires you to immediately pull the pin out of the plate, releasing the skewered potato coated with black truffle and cubes of cheese into the warm buttery liquid.  You take the whole thing as a shot, and it's just waves of hot and cold and absolute deliciousness in your mouth for a solid minute afterward.

The final meat dish was a repeat of the plumes of dragon's breath aromatics pouring over

dumplings made of foie gras,

duck breast and lobster mushroom.  I loved bites of the ever so melty duck swirled into the strands of the sweet, caramelized sauce.

Blueberry made its brilliant reappearance in the form of crisp airy foam, chewy strands of cold bubblegum that melted instantly in our mouths, with lilac and sorrel.

The weather was a bit humid, so the balloons floated lower than usual, and our waiters had us attack the balloons immediately upon hand-off.  My voice was higher than you can ever imagine and elicited much laughter from nearby tables.  My favorite !

The final dessert was live artistry and magic with ripe, golden-fleshed passion fruit as the star.

So many wonderful and delicious elements on the table, including a smashed ball of solidified coconut cream, thin sheets of crisp, sweet chocolate, brandied cherries, caramelized pineapple, pieces of key lime candy in edible wrappers.

Again, all wonder and brilliance.
Again, I love you Alinea.

1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614


  1. round 2 is just as epic!!!

    okay, we MUST talk about the corn. how can i get it in my belly? i love everything descriptor about the corn. EVERY.

    ... all such beautiful pictures!!

  2. Amazing review and pictures, thanks for sharing!