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Alinea -- which menu?

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The Tasting or the Tour? Coming in from NYC and have enjoyed tastings here -- the Tour looks like a biggie, though -- is it too much? Thanks!

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Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. If by "too much," you mean too much food, then I would say no. I was certainly satisfied and not looking to eat more after the meal, but I also wasn't busting at the seams. The tour will take around 4-5 hours and is well paced so as not to push too much food on you at once. If by "too much," you mean too much money, I would say that it all depends on how much you are willing to spend, but the tour was my best meal I've ever had. It is unlike any tasting menu I can think of this side of Spain. Do the tour and you won't regret it!

    1. If you have not yet made your reservation, you probably will not have to worry about which menu to choose. Beginning in August, they will only be offering one menu, with a variable number of courses, but reportedly more similar to the Tour than the Tasting.

      10 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        Thank you -- our reservation is for July 28th -- so we're getting in just shy of the change -- by too much, I was talking about food. Also our reservation is for 9:15, so a 4-5 hour meal will have me unconscious by the dessert course! I wonder if the tasting will be too light, though.

        1. re: picklejuice

          As long as you are there, you might as well do the tour. While I might be in the minority, I would not order the restaurants wine pairings. I might have finished one or two of the glasses offered. While it might seem a bit daunting to try to figure out a wine to accompany twenty something dishes, I would have been much better off with a bottle of champagne or gruner veltliner and a bottle of burgundy. The wine list was excellent and the prices were not excessive. The pairings were $175 and terrible.

          1. re: deesher

            Agreed 100%, skip the wine pairings!

            Aside from that, go for the tour and enjoy your meal, it's truly fantastic.

          2. re: picklejuice

            >> I wonder if the tasting will be too light, though.

            I've had the Tasting menu and it was not too light at all. The Tasting takes three hours, and consists of 12-14 courses. At the end, I was comfortably full and satisfied. I saw the items that other tables were getting from the Touring, and while they were very interesting too, I did not feel that the Tasting menu was any less of a complete (and equally amazing) Alinea experience.

            1. re: picklejuice

              I know it doesn't help to get conflicting opinions, but if you're concerned about the time, you'll be fine with the tasting. You will NOT go home hungry.

              And we loved the wine pairing, but it was a lot of alcohol for us. If we were going to do it again I would share a single wine paring between two people.

              1. re: picklejuice

                Since you already have a reservation, didn't they ask you which menu you wanted when you reserved? I seem to recall them doing that. Did you already specify that you wanted the Tour?

                I had the Tour recently and only the Tour menu tables get the "special" Silpat version of the final dessert....and THAT dish alone is a once in a lifetime experience if you ask me.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Just saw a note in ChiMag Dish that they are not offering two menus anymore. Combined to a 16 course or something. That being said, I was totally satisfied with the tasting and I have finished a BLT at Tony's Truck Stop in Michigan (look it up, its so awesomely disgusting).

                  1. re: jbontario

                    As nsxtasy said earlier in this thread:

                    "Beginning in August, they will only be offering one menu, with a variable number of courses, but reportedly more similar to the Tour than the Tasting."

                    To which picklejuice replied:

                    "our reservation is for July 28th"

                    1. re: jbontario

                      Yes, as noted above, they will be discontinuing the use of two menus starting the first week of August.

                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        Just dined at Alinea last week. Most people around us chose the shorter menu but since we flew 3 hours just to dine there we went for the 23 course extravaganza. Took four hours.

                        It was a bit too much food for my wife, who choose to surrender half her Waygu beef (yeah!) and most of her final dessert to me, but I was able to eat everything plus her dessert. So flying in from NYC, get the Tour if you have time.

                        I would suggest getting the wine pairing as well, we split a single pairing (one glass, which we shared), I think it was 12 glasses total. I thought the wine selections were excellent matches to the food, much better than what we had at Le Bernardin (NYC) with the 8 course tasting menu.

                        We felt extremely lucky that Grant came to our table and 'created' the finale chocolate dessert work of edible art, something the Tour menu didn't get.

                        Great experience, now our 2nd favorite restaurant after Robuchon (Vegas).

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                        Alinea
                        1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

              2. The Tour is not too much; but if you go with the Tasting, you won't go home hungry either. They portion their food pretty sensibly.

                But you will have a much better chance getting table-side service by the chef for one dish if you do the Tour.

                Lastly, wine pairing at Alinea is excellent. Best paring I had in Chicago. I was not a big drinker, so I negotiated for a half-volume pairing (they had no problem with that at all) - they charge by volume; so it was also cheaper.

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                Alinea
                1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                4 Replies
                1. re: mountsac

                  As noted above, starting in a few weeks, Alinea will only be serving one menu, not two.

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                  Alinea
                  1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    I am aware; but, as noted by the original poster, his reservation is before the change of menu.

                  2. re: mountsac

                    I'm sort of surprised by the number of people who enjoyed the wine pairing at Alinea. Either I'm a tough customer or the pairing for the night I visited was below par, but I found the wines to be pedestrian and HIGHLY overpriced ($20-$35 per bottle at Binny's). Our particular pairing also ended with about 5 sweet wines in a row. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a fan of sweeter wines, but I just thought the balance was way off.

                    Anyone else share my experience?

                    1. re: aburkavage

                      As a oenophile and winery owner myself, I will agree with you. It was quite nice that they paired wines to successfully compliment the food experience. BUT yes to add $125 for 5 glasses of wine (all were 2/3 pour our at best) that, you're right none of which was more than $50 retail, was a bit offputting. That and the wine guy, I assume a sommalier, but too young to be a master was a bit affected for me. If you're pouring me a $30 chilean wine, don't talk it up like its a '82 Latour.

                      That being said, I really really enjoyed every minute of my last meal at Alinea.

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                      Alinea
                      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                  3. Btw, Alinea will graciously accomodate special dietary requests. My girlfriend requested (in advance) a non-dairy, non-meat (fish ok) tasting and was well satisfied with the "alternatives" she had to the primary courses I received. In most cases, the dishes were very similar - just without the butter and cream.

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                    Alinea
                    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614