Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >
Oct 9, 2007 05:44 PM

Alinea - Tour or tasting?

I told my fiance this week, that all I want for Christmas this year, is to have dinner at Alinea.

Now, this is a big spend for us, for we have a baby due in April. But we're moving to Austin next year and I want to experience Alinea while I can.

The question is this: should we go for the full tour or just the tasting menu?

I know, it may seem like a stupid question but my fiance is not that adventurous eating-wise and money-wise, well, $195 can buy us a stroller!

I'd like to hear from people who have experienced a meal here firsthand.

Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My wife (fiance at the time) and I did the tour a couple of years ago. Knowing how much of a perfectionist Chef Achatz is, I'm sure it's at least at the same level - honestly, I don't know how it could be better though. I won't speak to the finances issue but I knew I wanted to go full in after following the ongoing blog before the restaurant had even opened and figured it would be my one big all-time splurge. I spent an absurd amount of money but I literally considered it good value.

    The difference here though is that my wife loves food too and is adventurous, so she wasn't exactly a hard sell. I think we were there 5 hours - it was food as theatre - if you're excited by food combinations you could never imagine together, ingredients you've never heard of, beautiful plating, and professional and informed yet unstuffy service, you'll enjoy every minute. On the other hand, I think a lot of people (not the types who read these boards) would be turned off by that sort of experience. For those concerned about the sheer amount of food, because some of the courses are literally a spoonful it's not that much. My wife felt full, and I was very much satiated, but all in all it wasn't too much.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ben Reiner

      We did the tasting w/ the wine pairings and found that there was a sufficiency of food and wine. At 3+ hours it was almost an over-stimulating experience, another dozen courses and two more hours at the table would have proved to be an overload. I will add that I consider the wine pairings essential (and IMO reasonably priced) as one or two bottles will not provide the latitude for the range of flavors and textures the kitchen delivers.

    2. Unfortunately I haven't personally been to Alinea, but I know someone who went there and tried the tasting menu. She immediately regretted not going all out for the tour menu, because you just want to try everything while you're there. If you're gonna go all out, you might as well go all out, ya know?

      1. If your fiance is not adventurous and you are on a budget, I'd go for the tasting. We did the tour- and I was stuffed 3/4 of the way through (and I can eat).

        1 Reply
        1. re: blondie60614

          I also recommend the tasting and the wine pairing. I made my reservations before the restaurant opened and without any information on what we were going to experience but having eaten at Trio when Grant was the head chef, we knew that the meal would be memorable. And as others have stated, at 3+ hours and with the wine, we were stuffed. I cannot imaging taking the tour, not to mention that the tasting menu was the highest priced meal we had ever experienced by a long shot. And the meal was extraordinary for my wife and I and the other couple we went with. Each course was an adventure. Enjoy!

        2. Thanks for the advice! We will definitely go for the tasting menu.