Help us with our fancy dinner
My husband and I are coming to Chicago in July for the second time. We plan on hitting a lot of different food spots of various styles, but are interested in including one high end meal. Last year we opted for Alinea for this meal, and were both wowed by the menu, and the experience. We loved the unpredictability of the selections and presentations, the variety and the spectacle, and of course, how amazing everything tasted. We also both remarked on how comfortable we felt in the dining room (we're not business types) and the restaurant's combination of laid back and professional service.
So this year, we've got a bit of a debate. My husband would like to return to Alinea because he feels that he won't find another restaurant that could compete with the experience we had there. I, on the other hand, feel like Alinea was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and am hesitant to return at risk of diluting it. We've looked at a number of posts on chowhound that talk about high end Chicago restaurants, and have looked at the websites of those on nsxtasy's top 8 list and a few other restaurants that are mentioned a lot. We're interested in a tasting menu, and we've narrowed it to three and wonder what others would do in our shoes:
Tru - I'm intrigued by this place but a bit confused by the menu as presented on the web site.
Moto - I think this was our second place finisher last year, and so seems the natural followup. We like the Japanese influence and would probably go for the grand tasting menu if we went.
Alinea - should we stick with what we know we loved?
Or is there something you think we've totally overlooked?
Tru: I found this more if a luxurious dining experience than a creative one. Yes, the good tastes great and the service is tops, but nothing really inspired me there.
Moto: Have not been. By most accounts, it's a bit more far out than Alinea, but not quite as good in the taste department.
Me, between those three I'd go to Alinea again. One other place to consider is L.20, which is a new high end seafood restaurant. I've not been, but the early reports on some boards and blogs is that it's a stunner. I think they have a tasting menu.
Back from our trip last week. We ended up going to Moto. We had decided based on responses here to go back to Alinea, but alas we'd left things a bit longer than we'd realized and couldn't get in.
Wish I had have posted this and made my reservations sooner. Moto was fine. It had some interesting dishes but on the whole was disappointing after the Alinea meal the year previous. Particularly I found the service at Moto far inferior. At Alinea everything was carefully explained and described and at Moto (particularly with the wine pairings) it felt like things were sort of just plunked in front of us by comparison. Certainly some things at Moto were enjoyable - I liked the gimmick of the edible menu, the wine pairings were well done if not well explained, several of the courses were delicious as well as interestingly presented but more than one really missed the mark. All in all my positive feelings about the Alinea meal from 2007 continue to grown, and I think Moto becomes less impressive the more I think on it.
It was interesting to see the comparison between the two, but I think I feel a bit cheated at the Moto meal. Although, oddly enough, the people sitting beside us were freaking out with how awesome they thought everything was. So, I guess there are those for which Moto is still the right place.