HOME > Chowhound > Chicago Area >

Discussion

Alinea Waiting List...Chances of getting in? L2O Good back up plan?

  • c

Hello, I have a question concerning the waiting list at Alinea. Currently, I am on the list for August 15 (sunday), and they said there were 6 total on the waiting list. What are my chances of getting in? Also, I made reservations at L2O in case they do not call, but there cancellation possibly says I have to call 72 Hours prior in order not to be charged $100 a person. Do you think Alinea will call before that if they do? And is L2O the correct back up? Thanks so much for your help!

-----
Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

L2O
2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. >> Do you think Alinea will call before that if they do?

    I don't know.

    >> And is L2O the correct back up?

    There are maybe 10 or so expensive, fancy restaurants in Chicago with big-name chefs, lengthy tasting menus, armies of serving staff, etc. Alinea is a unique experience that goes far beyond the others. However, if you're looking for the creativity and level of service that defines fine dining, I think Charlie Trotter's is the closest you'll find in Chicago, although I say that with the utmost respect for Everest, TRU, Avenues, and Spiaggia, all of which are very good indeed. My personal experience at L2O was that it was pretty good but overall not of the same caliber of these other places.

    If I had to choose one place to serve as a backup to Alinea, it would be Charlie Trotter's.

    $.02

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy

      I, too would not bother with L20, but I would add Bonsoiree to the list. It's casual, in a neighborhood, is BYO, and has a slightly lower-priced menu, but the food is every bit as creative and memorable as TRU, Everest or Spiaggia (I haven't eaten at Avenues). I think I like it better than Trotters also.

      -----
      Bonsoiree
      2728 W Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647

    2. L2O is fantastic - there is a reason Gras' cooking is highly touted. I enjoyed it more than Trotter's, but Trotter's is also good - but much more "oldschool" than the avant garde of L2O. I'd say L2O is the BEST backup to Alinea.

      Please do skip Spiaggia - unless you enjoy feeling judged and getting small portions for enormous dollars. If you do go - get the Gnocchi - then leave and go to Cafe Spiaggia where the food is almost as good, the prices 1/2 as much, and the service MUCH better.

      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

      -----
      Alinea
      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

      Cafe Spiaggia
      980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

      L2O
      2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

      Spiaggia
      980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

      4 Replies
      1. re: uhockey

        L2O is the WORST backup to Alinea. It's just not in the same league as the others, with spotty service and "just okay" food. Spiaggia, OTOH, is thoroughly excellent in every way. There's a reason why Tony Mantuano has won so many awards - the delicious food and the excellent service. And Trotter's continues to reinvent high-end dining as the years go by, and is as avant garde as anyone in Chicago, save Achatz and perhaps Cantu and Carlson. If you want an upscale food and experience comparable to Alinea, consider Trotter's, TRU, Avenues, Everest (which is a bit more French than the others), or Spiaggia (which is Italian, unlike the others). But stay away from L2O.

        As for Cafe Spiaggia, the moderately-priced sister restaurant next door to Spiaggia, it's very good for a more casual (and less expensive) dining experience. And so are dozens of other restaurants in Chicago. Many of these are excellent - but none of them provide a high-end experience, with the level of creativity and service that would make them an appropriate backup for Alinea. If you'd like to consider a casual finer dining experience as a backup, we'd be happy to give you suggestions (and if you want to go Italian, Cafe Spiaggia would be one of them).

        1. re: nsxtasy

          That is entirely your opinion - much as my opinion of Spiaggia is that it is pretentious and unpleasant with miniscule portions.

          I don't disagree that TRU or Trotter's is a nice backup for L2O - I just find L20 much more cutting edge and closer to Alinea in spirit than them.

          -----
          Alinea
          1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

          L2O
          2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

          Spiaggia
          980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

          1. re: uhockey

            I'm with uhockey on this one. Spiaggia is the most overpriced, over-hyped restaurant in the city. The decor and pretense are stuck in the 1980's (when the place opened). I would be hesitant to dine there even if someone else was paying as I wouldn't want to see a friend or colleague cheated. IMO the food at Cafe Spiaggia is no better than what one finds at the food court across the street at Water Tower Place. Stick with L2O.

            -----
            Cafe Spiaggia
            980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

            L2O
            2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

            Spiaggia
            980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

            1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

              I do disagree on the cafe - I found the food quite well priced and of very high quality. The mothership was dreadful, but the Cafe is some of the best "bargain" high end Italian I've ever had and the setting just as nice as Spiaggia (without the pretense and incredible prices.)

              There is a reason Bruni loved L2o - it is the same reason he ranks all the Danny Meyer restaurants in NYC as he does....a brilliant chef, a modern dining room, competent and unobtrusive (yet friendly) service, and the highest quality product.

              http://uhockey.blogspot.com

              -----
              Spiaggia
              980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

      2. Considering your reservation is almost a month away, you have a decent chance of getting in. Alinea waiting lists grow to triple digits and people cancel at any restaurant all the time.

        There is no restaurant offering a comparable experience to Alinea in Chicago, or really the world for that matter. L20 is a fine restaurant, but its not Alinea. Trotters will be the most expensive disappointment of your life.

        Also, Alinea only requires 24 hours notice to cancel, and if they are able to rebook the table (very likely) you won't get charged.

        -----
        Alinea
        1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

        12 Replies
        1. re: fancyfoodguy

          If you are looking for creative American fine dining (like Alinea), I would go with Avenues - it is the whole package, albeit not to the level of Alinea.

          I have a very different experience at L2O from nsxtasy. IMO, L2O has an excellent repertoire in seafood, bread service, and dessert. But its meat dishes are a bit lackluster (although the majority of the tasting menu is comprised of seafood dishes). I loved the experience (including the beautiful ambiance and the comfortable seats; and as we couldn't really finish our tasting menu in the end <too much food and wine> the chef gave us three boxes of petite fours, cheese, and bread to take home!). I also didn't have any problem with the service at all. If anything, I preferred the service there to that of TRU. I would highly recommend if you don't mind a seafood-heavy tasting menu and having more traditional cooking than Alinea.

          My other rec would be Everest. The flavor profile and the execution there is top-notch. You don't get the wonder-inducing creativity or the chic ambiance of Alinea, but you won't be losing out on food and wine if you go to Everest.

          Personally, I would skip Trotter's or TRU. I think the tasting menu at Trotter's is out of balance (both in terms of flavors and savory/sweet ratio) and the execution at TRU was not consistent throughout the tasting menu when I visited in early 2009.

          -----
          Alinea
          1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

          L2O
          2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

          1. re: mountsac

            In response to mountsac - I entirely agree on L2O....but we only had one non-fish dish aside from the sublime Foie gras. Their bread service is the best in the country.

            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

            1. re: uhockey

              I had a pork belly dish, and my date got that dish subbed with a beef dish. Both were just okay in terms of flavor (but the meat itself was cooked to perfection).

              1. re: mountsac

                I had the braised short ribs of beef there, and the above description ("just okay" etc) applies to this dish as well. But it had foam on it, so if that amazes you... ;)

                I wasn't particularly impressed with the bread service at L2O. The best bread service I can recall off the top of my head was at Sam & Harry's, the steakhouse in Schaumburg. Too bad the rest of the meal there wasn't so impressive.

                However, the little canele they give you at the end of the meal at L2O was heavenly.

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  I don't remember S/H's bread very well - but I did remember that it was in a cool-looking basket and was at least not bad.

                  My biggest complaint about Sam and Harry is that they don't salt their steaks enough (or do they at all?). I never salt my steaks in Chicago (in Asia, you have to do this all the bloody time), but I had to do that at S/H.

                  I'm a sucker for warm bread. The restaurants that do this very well (that I've been to) in Chicago are Trotter's and (yes you heard me) Tango Sur.

                  -----
                  Tango Sur
                  3763 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60613

                  1. re: mountsac

                    One of the items in the bread basket at Sam & Harry's was a really great flatbread - the best I've had anywhere.

                2. re: mountsac

                  I had the Pork Belly as well. It was nicely made and the potato crisp with it was sublime - but not "amazing."

                  And it is interesting that anyone was unimpressed with L2O's bread service - I've read many of blogs who claim it amongst the best. The croissants are incredible.

                  http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                  -----
                  L2O
                  2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

                  1. re: uhockey

                    My problem with the Pork Belly dish was that the truffle sauce had no truffle flavor at all. This made the sauce taste like a starchier jus, which makes the already heavy dish even heavier. And this dish came at the end of the savory courses, which made it impossible to finish. I had two bites and had to send the rest back. The potato was a delight though.

                    1. re: mountsac

                      i am a glutton.....I ate mine.....and my sister's......and had the Foie Gras supplement mid-meal. :-)

                      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

              2. re: mountsac

                How much is the tasting menu @ Everest?

              3. re: fancyfoodguy

                Why did you dislike Trotter's? I understand some don't enjoy it, but for the price I found the experience and food justified.

                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

              4. Wow...thank you all for your very specific information. It is so helpful to have other people's opinion. Hopefully, Alinea will have availability and I won't have to worry about lol. If anyone else wants to weigh in on the subject I'd love to hear it. Also, who in Chicago do you think will be getting the coveted three star michelin award?

                -----
                Alinea
                1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                8 Replies
                1. re: c8490

                  >> Also, who in Chicago do you think will be getting the coveted three star michelin award?

                  Almost all the comments I've read, here and elsewhere, have indicated they think that Alinea will get three stars. As much consensus as there is on that point, there is virtually no consensus on any other candidate. In fact, I find it quite interesting that, while there are these other half dozen or so high-end restaurants (and there is general agreement on which ones those are), you don't have most folks claiming that one of them is head and shoulders above the rest, like there is for Alinea.

                  If Alinea is the only recipient of three stars, no one will be surprised. If any one other restaurant also receives three stars, I'm sure it will raise at least some eyebrows. Not that any of those others is bad, only that it's not clearly better than the rest.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    I think you are absolutely right about Alinea and three stars...from what I have heard it is in a league of its own. If I go I look forward to seeing if it beats out Daniel in NYC for me, and Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas. Another question for you though, I recently saw Achatz twittered that he kicked out some stages for being 19 and asking for alcohol, and when they were carded, he kicked them out. I am over 21, but some of my guest are 20. Is this typical of Alinea, Chicago fine restaurants, do ID people at this type of establishment? It made headlines that Achatz was on a warpath that week lol. So was this an isolated incident? Just curious because I know when I was under 21 and paid that much for a meal, I had better be able to pay for wine pairings also lol. Just wondering peoples opinions...

                    -----
                    Alinea
                    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                    Las Vegas Restaurant
                    914 Main St, Antioch, IL 60002

                    1. re: c8490

                      I made reservations for August 11 a few weeks ago and the restaurant asked if everyone in my party was over 21 since "chef is using alcohol in some dishes". I assume that means uncooked alcohol. One of us is not so I'm curious to know if we will get different dishes or what the non-alcohol substitute dish(es) will be. I'll report back.

                      1. re: ChemWork

                        Alinea is very good about substituting dishes. We were there with someone who at the time didn't eat meat from mammals. They didn't blink at the request and she had perfect substitutions that she enjoyed very much.

                    2. re: nsxtasy

                      3 Michelin stars is a really BIG deal.

                      1. re: chicgail

                        Yes, I realize that. :)

                        Among other recent nationwide/worldwide honors, the list of 100 best restaurants in the world includes only Alinea among Chicago-area restaurants, but several places in NYC. Charlie Trotter's was formerly so honored on that particular list but dropped off 2-3 years ago.

                        The Forbes Travel Guide (formerly Mobil Travel Guide) gives five stars to about 20 restaurants nationwide. The latest list includes Alinea and Trotter's in Chicago, and Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, Masa, and per se in New York. Those are the same four restaurants in New York that received three stars from Michelin.

                        If I had to make a wager on which other Chicago restaurant might get three stars, I'd put it on Trotter's.

                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          I would be very surprised if Trotters earned 3 stars. Two maybe. Not three.

                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            I'm not so sure any other Chicago restaurant will be receiving three stars. Alinea not receiving three would come as a shock (and I have not even eaten there lol)...And if they do call me back with an available table, I am sure they will ask me that question then too @ChemWork. All this discussing Alinea has made me hope I get in even more lol

                            -----
                            Alinea
                            1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                    3. It is so nice to read all of your opinions! This is great! I have to ask what are the best places for lunch and dinner that are not exorbitantly priced...because sadly I cannot eat at restaurants like L2O or Alinea every night lol....Anyone been to that bar/snacks on top of the Wit? Called the Roof I think...

                      -----
                      Alinea
                      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                      L2O
                      2300 Lincoln Park West, Chicago, IL 60614

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: c8490

                        >> I have to ask what are the best places for lunch and dinner that are not exorbitantly priced...because sadly I cannot eat at restaurants like L2O or Alinea every night lol....

                        Neither can most of us.

                        You'll find lots of mid-priced and moderately-priced recommendations, and tips on how to get the most for your dining dollar, in this topic:

                        Where are the best Chicago dinner *values* - the hidden gems? - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/697829

                        >> Anyone been to that bar/snacks on top of the Wit? Called the Roof I think...

                        I haven't been there. However, last weekend I had dinner at Cibo Matto, the Italian restaurant in the Wit. I thought it was very good - maybe not the best mid-priced Italian place in town, but I had an enjoyable dinner. The standout dish was a dessert featuring cardamom mascarpone panna cotta.

                        1. re: c8490

                          I've been to the Roof, but haven't tried the food. Most of what was coming out looked good, with the notable exception of the pizzas, which were tiny and looked underbaked. The drinks were excellent, particularly the very refreshing, not-too-sweet cucumber-ginger mojito. Beware - it gets very busy, and it's not exactly bargain priced, since you're paying for the view. As cliched as it sounds, though, it is a great space.

                          1. re: c8490

                            Clearly Lou Malnati's (or The Art of Pizza) is a must - I've not done Uno but I need to.
                            Blackbird's lunch is an absolute steal.
                            Hot Doug's
                            Cafe Spiaggia
                            DB Primehouse (wonderful bargain, and very good food.)

                            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                            -----
                            Hot Doug's
                            3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618

                            Cafe Spiaggia
                            980 North Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                            Art of Pizza
                            3033 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

                            1. re: c8490

                              I found the food at the Roof at Wit to be pretty good but difficult to eat given the lounge seatings. But I went during the winter so maybe there will be conventional seating on the outdoor patio that will provide a proper lunch experience.