ALINEA – Toward creativity!
“The word alinea refers to the copy editor’s symbol for a new paragraph—or new train of thought.”
Alinea (Chef Grant Achatz) is driven by perfection – to achieve the most creative “creations” possible to put on a plate. Very sophisticated – a drama from start to end. That’s why this restaurant is unique and deserves his 3 Michelin stars.
We arrived at 5.30pm for our reservation – have been greeted at the door, reservations will be checked via Ipad outside the building. The door opened – to teleport us into the another world – the world of Chef Grant Achatz.
Once inside, we encounter a glass floating in water – filled with its first flavour encounter “LEMONADE, wine chime”. The entrance hall has been laid out with grass – maybe an interpretation of Chef Achatz to showcase the green side of Chicago (just a joke!). Moving towards the end of the hall – putting down the glass – a slide door will open, where the personal experience will start. The service staff is awaiting us, to bring us to our table. (Small info – Alinea has 2 service turns at night, about 80 covers per day, more or less – no lunch service. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)
We are served champagne and wine throughout the night – nothing I will be going into details – all wines have been top. Best of the best that night – a Pinot Gris from the winery Chehalem. (We have been to the Aviary a night before – therefore alcohol wasn’t much desired that night at Alinea).
There are no table cloths, what I personally like – a proper wooden table instead. On our table – 2x Ice holes set in stones. (the ice holes are made daily by the chefs). The preparation for the first amusebouche.
The next 3 small photos should show the first amusebouche “STEELHEAD ROE, peach, St. German, kinome” 1. Server will bring a test tube filled with the ingredients, placing the tube into the hole. 2. The whole is filled with a peach distillation 3. Suck it up.
Next amusebouche to follow, a more complex one: served on a wooden log covered in seaweed. There have been 4 items be served at once. “OYSTER LEAVE mignonette” / “KING CRAB, passionfruit, heart of palm, allspice” / “LOBSTER carrot, chamoille” and last and my person favourite of that installation, “RAZOR CLAM, shiso, soy, daikon” The oyster leave served with mignonette
After an very interesting sea introduction – the first of the Crucial detail serving ware was brought to us. The antenna. “WOOLY PIG, fennel, orange, squid” (3rd amusebouche) to be eaten without any utensils or hand – pop it!
After such an interesting start – we came to our first course:
Second course was one of the outstanding ones regarding flavour boost
Followed by our third course – my personal favourite – great combination of flavours!
Next course – “CHANTERELLE (mushroom), ramps, asparagus, smoked date” the dish is served on hot stones, onto a wooden smoked slate (oak-wood – burned in the kitchen to give the customer a smokey flavour on the table, to combine the dish.
Main course to follow; “LAMB,……….?????………!!!!!!!!!!!!!” served on 2 plates. The lamb is plated in front of the customer – served with the special glass plate with 60 different flavours. To finish one of these plates takes more then 80 steps… Lamb prepared in 3 ways. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSygdcskpFw LAMB 86 (a short video of the plating)
Course 11 – another dish who have been served for a longer time, as the dish is very successful. “BLACK TRUFFLE explosion, romaine, parmesan” The ravioli has a warm truffle liquid inside – will burst once eaten.
Next was the cheese course: “ANJOU PEAR, onion, brie, smoking cinnamon” Pear jelly (pectin) with brie cheese and confit onions – fried in tempura, on a cinnamon stick ….. surrounded by the smell of cinnamon. Served in Crucial detail serving ware. (http://crucialdetail.com/ – designed by Martin Kastner)
Dessert number 1 / Pre Dessert to come….
“BLUEBERRY, buttermilk, sorrel, macadamia” This dessert is genius – the glass ware has a deep bowl in the center, with a small lid (not seen on the photo) – the chefs will poor liquid nitrogen into the center – when the dish arrives at the table – the lid is shaking – once released the cold air will shoot out and evaporate. Served with a metallic straw – the liquid feature (sorrel) is eat/drinkable and supports the main dessert on top of the glass plate/rim. Blueberries in textures, as well buttermilk – served with sorrel and macadamia nuts. Fantastic dessert!
NEXT – The gimmick of the night – another show killer…(in a positive way!)
“BALLOON, helium, green apple” the string is made of apple, the balloon is made from sugar topped with dried apple powder…. filled with helium. It’s a kind of fun dish… as we all know what happens once we inhale helium.
And last but not least (as we still got tea after dessert) – Le Grand Finale!
Last and final dish/dessert – the most memorable one. Prepared by the chef himself – Grant Achatz. “WHITE CHOCOLATE, strawberry, english pea, lemon” The service team will prepare the table / place a kind of silicon mat onto the table… then, time to wait for the chef.
(the video i have uploaded shows Chef Grant Achatz in action – it gives a better understanding on what happened that night – to showcase the person / chef. I was not able to capture chef and food on our table) the result…….lots of textures… lots of flavours…
“WHITE CHOCOLATE, strawberry, english pea, lemon” Alinea is a progressive restaurant what challenge the boundaries of cooking. Modernist cuisine at the top of the game! Lastly, a small video from Alinea (its a bit older – but shows how the place is buzzing).
A big thanks to Chef Grand Achatz, Nick Kokonas and the full team of Alinea.