To quote Wikipedia:
"It currently holds the highest rating of three stars from the Michelin Guide. It has received the AAA Five Diamond Award, the highest level of recognition given by the AAA, in consecutive years from 2007 to 2014. It also ranked No. 9 on the S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants List, second only to Eleven Madison Park in the U.S. As of 2014, Alinea is one of two Michelin 3-star restaurants in Chicago."
Now, don't go thinking Michael and I eat this way often, because we don't. It's actually a once and a lifetime thing and it was the best meal of our lives.
That morning we flew into Chicago. After an hour of traffic we got to our hotel to freshen up, then headed for the restaurant. I would never guess it was a three-star restaurant looking at it from the outside. It was just a black door with an Alinea valet-sign on the sidewalk. But when the door opens, we were brought into this dimly lit hallway guided by lines of light along the floor leading us to an open foyer in front of stairs. To our right was the open kitchen basked in light and to the left a lounge area.
After giving the hostess our coats, we were led up the black stairs to the second floor where the restaurant was divided into three smaller spaces sectioned off by curtains. In each space the floor was carpeted, minimalizing any noise and the décor minimalistic, with great lighting that highlighted the dishes like a stage, and abstract art along the walls. The staff was all dressed in black suits with white shirts and were always attentive with a great sense of humor. The whole thing felt surreal.
In total we had 23 courses (bite size) with wine-pairings. I wish I could really give you a play by play, but no one else in the room seemed to be taking photos so I didn't think it'd be the appropriate place for that (though I did manage to sneak a few). What I will say is Alinea is worth saving up and flying out to because it wasn't just a meal. It was a whole sensory art performance. From presentation, to taste, to touch, to smell, to even sound, it delights in all the senses and something I've never experienced before. When it came to an end and we were led back the black hallway and through the double doors, I couldn't help but feel an immense sadness that it was over.
|helium filled taffy balloon|
|tropical fruit and coconut ice cream|
I know this night will be one I keep in my memory forever. I'll always remember our first night in Chicago like our evening in Paris: magical.
After dinner we went to 96th Floor Signature Lounge in the Hancock building for the drinks and awesome view.
|view from the bathroom|
|the handsome fiancé|
Afterwards, we were still a bit hungry since we had skipped lunch and only had a smoothie for breakfast before Alinea, so we ended the night with some pizza before heading back to the hotel.
Our first night in Chicago was so amazing, I wondered that night if the rest of our time here would be just as good.