questions for first time visit next week to Alinea
I have a reservation next week at Alinea. I'm visiting from out of town. I am doing the $135 tasting menu (that's the option they gave me for the time of my reservation).
1. I assume there's not a dress code but is there a typical look -- would suit pants and white dressy shirt work (in LA, where I used to live, that would have been considered too formal for many high end restaurants and jeans and a cool shirt would have been better) or should I wear a darker shirt?
2. will they propose additional courses beyond the $135 and is that worth taking them up on?
3. is there a choice between wine pairings and a wine list? And if so, is the pairing the way to go?
4. any other advice on how to maximize the experience of what I assume will be my only visit there?
In Chicago, at the top 10-15 restaurants - places like Alinea, Everest, Avenues, Tru, Charlie Trotter's, NoMi, Ambria - a gentleman will look out of place if you don't wear at least a sportjacket (and, at many, a tie). This is not true of the rest of our restaurants, but it's true at these select places. (We have plenty of other "high end" places where a more casual look is welcome.)
When in doubt, call the restaurant and ask what most people wear. If they say "business casual" or "dressy casual", that means plenty of men don't wear jackets. If they say "dress up" or "business attire" (or just "jackets required for gentlemen"), that means pretty much all the men will be wearing a jacket (with or without tie).
The above review is pretty accurate. I agree that you really cannot consider an individual wine for the meal as the courses are very distinct and the wine pairings are amazing! When I was last there, we had three choices on the tasting menus starting at $85.00 per person. The 24 course meal will take over 4 hours to consume while our 12 course meal still took over 3 hours to complete.
This will be a very unique dining experience, I can assure you. It will be interesting to see your reaction to the entire experience so please post a review after you are finished. Enjoy!
1. On dress, men generally wear jackets, but no tie is required. Everytime I've gone I've worn a suit with no tie
2. They might not propose extra courses, but you can certainly ask to have them added on. Usually there's an additional charge of $5-$10 per additional course
3. There are both wine pairings and a wine list. For this type of cuisine I would highly highly recommend the wine pairings because each course is so unique. It's also fun to see how each wine compliments the food in each course (and often times vice versa)
4. Just sit back and enjoy. Try not to go in with preconceived notions/expectations. If you keep your mind open, you'll have a great time. Along those lines, really put yourself in the kitchen's hands. If there is something on the menu you normally don't eat, this would be the time to try it (allergies and moral beliefs aside, of course).