And the good eating just won't stop. On our first night in Chicago, we went to Alinea. Oh yes, we did. And although I was allowed to take pictures of my meal, I decided to opt out. Why? Well, sometimes I just want to enjoy the meal and forget about having to take the perfect picture. And this was the kind of meal that I really wanted to enjoy. Lucky for you, my readers, they provided me with the menu after dinner. So please read on below because this was the most interesting and interactive meal I have ever had. And I can honestly say that it was one of the best meals I've ever had too. Yup, it really impressed me.
Smoke: smoked pearls, brioche toast foam, egg yolk emulsion, red onion, and caper gel
Salsify: hidden in a crown of twigs was two pieces of dehydrated salsify to be made to taste like beef jerky
Skate: braised skate wing with brown butter, lemon, herbs, and bread crumbs
Tomato: served on a concrete slab with ashed goat cheese, pistachio, and licorice graffiti
Corn (one of our favorites): corn poached in butter with truffles, manchego cheese, and sherry served in its own husk. Sweet, savory, and incredibly satisfying.
Rhubarb: freshly shaved rhubarb from the stem hanging above your heads with celery root, celery branch, and red wine. A really refreshing course after so many rich dishes so far.
Lobster: curry, earl grey, and grapefruit which was reminiscent of a deconstructed Thai coconut curry
Sweetbreads: fried sweetbreads in orange sauce with ginko nuts, vegetables, and herbs served in a Chinese take out box wrapped in a plastic bag and eaten with lit cinnamon sticks
Lily Bulb: another refreshing course with lily bulb with rambutan, caviar lime, and lychee
Pork Belly: wrapped in kombu seaweed and charred in a fire pit along with parsnip. The fire pit was placed in the middle of the table while we enjoyed the lily bulb course. We thought it was just ambiance but instead they were being clever and cooking our next dish while we ate another.
Hot Potato: a one bite course with cold potato soup with black truffle, butter, and a hot potato ball
Duck: seared duck breast with vegetables, foie gras dumplings, lobster mushroom, and dragon's breath steam
Blueberry: dessert with bubble gum noodles, lilac, and sorrel. Unfortunately, this dessert didn't work on me and was one of the few misses for me that night.
Balloon: floating balloon made completely out of green apple taffy. The most fun course of the night with chipmunk voices and delicious sweet tart candy.
Tropical Fruit: An abstract painting made straight onto the table with chocolate ganache, passionfruit gelee, frozen coconut, bon bons, sour cherries and more. Think Jackson Pollack painted by a chef from the kitchen using food as paint. Delicious and beautiful.
I hope my post here served you well to imagine what the meal at Alinea meant to me. But if that's not good enough for you, then click to this other blog (Ontomatopiea) in which the writer had exactly what I had and also took pictures.
1723 N Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60614