Takashi and Alinea
We were in Chicago last weekend and decided ages ago that we would return to Alinea after having a phenomenal meal there last summer. More about this later.
After considering all sorts of places for our other night, we decided to go to Takashi based on something we read in Food and Wine (or was it Gourmet?). Anyway - we made a 7 pm reso through OpenTable and arrived right on time. And we were done at 8pm. We are talking ONE hour here. Three courses. ONE hour. The food was good and the serivce was - fast? perfunctory? rushed? impersonal? I did notice other parties leaving soon after we arrived and I wondered if they had started their meal at 5pm to get out so quickly...but no - we are talking fast food here!
We had a 6pm reso at Alinea for the Sat night. Last time we did the 12 course and this time we were in for the 24 courses. I was concerned about the wine pairing as I was sure that I would be on the floor as the pairing for the 12 course was a lot of alcohol. And I wanted to be hyper-aware of everyhting that was going into my mouht. The sommelier could not have been more gracious when we explained our concerns. He suggested pairings that would cover us for 2 or 3 courses and they were all excellent. A champagne cocktail for me to start, my husband does not like bubbles (!) and had something else in the whites. Every other wine we had was wonderful - an amazing Riesling, a fantastic Gewurtztraminer, a Spanish granacha, a great port. And the food....the breads were amazing but filled us up. Even though many of the courses were really tiny, I was stuffed at the end. They were trying out a wagyu beef dish - and when asked for our thoughts on it, I could only gasp - make the portions bigger. It was truly phenomenal. All in all, we had five courses that contained truffles - and the only thing better than truffles is more truffles IMHO. My husband does not eat shellfish or pork and their substitutions were wonderful and he did not feel like he was second best for a moment. The service is exemplary, the ambience calm and warm. I am already planning another visit next year!
Interesting to hear your thoughts on service at Takashi. We went about a month ago, and while the food was pretty good I was less than impressed with the service. I could see how they got you in and out in an hour (we did everything possible to prevent them from doing that to us).