Alinea -- a few quick questions
I just obtained a Friday night reservation in September for me and my wife (which I was suprised came so easily), and have a few quick questions:
1. The receptionist asked if we were comfortable walking upstairs, suggesting that this is where we would be seated. I have never been in the restaurant. Is the downstairs seating better? Will we be relegated to the attic upstairs? If so, I want to be sure to request downstairs seating.
2. There have been recent threads about 12 versus 24 courses. The receptionist also suggested we "reserve" the 24 course if we want it. Do I really need to reserve this in advance? (Will they be out of it?) And if I only get the 12 courses, will I be hungry at the end?
3. Finally, I understand we may be able to do half-glass wine pairings. Any idea what the half-pairings might cost per person with the 12 or 24 courses?
1. I have sat upstairs on both occassions and have enjoyed it thoroughly. It is not an attic. I do understand that many people like the downstairs front room, but, the upstairs is very beautiful and you do not feel like you are in a second class room.
2. Don't know about them running out...my sense is this is the type of restaurant that wishes to completely please you so if you really wanted the 24 course and had not reserve it, they'd make it work. You will definitely not be hungry after the 12 courses. Both times I left completely satisfied, though not uncomfortably full. It actually felt very nice to leave with that feeling.
3. I do not recall them having 1/2 glass pairings, but I do know that they allow 2 people to split the pairing. So my guess is you pay for 1 full pairing and then split it. Not sure if they do 1/2 glass for an individual, but another option I did was doing 1/2 the tasting...full glasses of several of the wine courses but skipping some others. Of course, the full tasting are not really full glasses.
When I ate at Alinea, I was also seated upstairs. Besides the stairs, there aren't any obvious clues that you are not on a ground floor. I do like the fact that the seating areas are distinctively separate, and that one is not "better" than the other.
Reserving the 24 course probably gives the kitchen an idea as to the quantity of product they should expect to be serving on a given night. Specialty items are expensive and sometimes have a limited shelf life; if they know in advance how many diners will participate in the 24 course tour, they can order appropriately. My question would be: am I locked into ordering the 24 course tour if I reserve it over the phone?
We ate there on Aug 2. It was AMAZING. The best meal I have ever eaten. We sat upstairs - it did not occur to me that there was any difference. We had 12 courses with wine pairings. Left feeling full but not uncomfortably so. The service was incredible. I cannot wait to go back there for 24 courses... devastated to hear the other day that Chef Achatz has oral cancer and am really glad that I did not know that before we went as I would have been so sad at the time.
I don't think you are locked into the 24 course. Because it's double the courses, the receptionist wants to block out the right amount of time for your meal. When they call to confirm your reservation, you will have the opportunity to change. In the end, you will get about the same amount of food w/ the 12 vs the 24. The 24 is slightly more food, but you will not go hungry by doing just the 12.