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Dec 26, 2010 05:08 AM

Dress code at Alinea

Received an Alinea gift card as a Charistmas present. What is the appropriate dress for men?

Sport coat with open shirt - coat with tie?

Thanks - Psychman

1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. Sport jackets are required, but ties are not, and an open shirt with no tie is acceptable. When I ate there last year, most (but not all) men were wearing ties as well.

    What a wonderful gift - enjoy your meal!

    1. sport coat with open shirt is fine. only one man within 5 tables of us was wearing a tie when we were there a few weeks ago. A few were wearing nice jeans + sport coat + shirt. Some had the sleeves of their coats rolled up.

      Seemed like as long as you had a jacket, you were fine.

      12 Replies
      1. re: gleam

        I was specifically told that jeans were not allowed when I made reservations and again a few days before the dinner when they called to confirm. They may not make a big deal if you do show up in nice jeans, but I didn't want to find out so I wore a suit and tie! When we went I would say that 3/4 of the men were dressed like I was, the rest were wearing dress pants/button down/sports jacket.

        1. re: Coogles

          Yes, that's consistent with my own observations. I have not seen anyone there wearing jeans and anyone doing so would be very conspicuous. I'm not doubting gleam's report, but I've never seen it and I sure wouldn't want to do something that the restaurant explicitly did not want done.

          Kudos to Alinea for being proactive about letting people know in advance what they consider appropriate/inappropriate.

          1. re: Coogles

            Ya, I think it has to do more with fitting in than with a strict dress code. When I ate there, nearly everyone was dressed in a suit. Chicago's a really formal, business-oriented city, after all, so I'd err on the side of caution.

            1. re: The Food Buster

              I agree with most of what everyone has said. Relative to the west coast, Chicago is a really formal dress city. Relative to DC, however, there's a lot more room for variation.

              I just wasn't paying attention to what men were wearing when I was there, but the men in our party wore suits. Jeans, even good jeans, would have stood out.

              Given that Alinea is generally considered the finest restaurant in this city and one of the best in the world, I agree with the advice to err on the formal side.

              You can't go wrong there in a suit. Certainly nothing less than dress pants and a sport coat. Ties may not be required, but certainly seem appropriate. Jeans are pushing it, especially if you were told they were not allowed.

              And psychman: Lucky You!

              1. re: chicgail

                Chicago is no more formal or business oriented than other large cities, not even ones on the West Coast. There are fewer than ten restaurants in Chicago where a jacket is required, and those are only the really high-end places that you won't even find in some smaller cities (e.g. Indianapolis). The kind of high-end places where all the men wear jackets in Chicago - Alinea, Charlie Trotter's, Everest - are just like ones where all the men wear jackets in California (Manresa, French Laundry) or New York (Per Se, Le Bernardin).

                1. re: chicgail

                  "Ties may not be required, but certainly seem appropriate."

                  Unless it's a business lunch and I'm already in a tie there are no circumstances under which I'd willingly put on a tie to go out to eat.

                  1. re: ferret

                    There are men who refuse to put on a jacket to go out to eat, and who feel strongly enough about it that they never eat at places that require jackets.

                    I know a guy who lives in the suburbs and refuses to go out to eat anywhere within the city limits of Chicago.

                    People are welcome to give (or refuse) their business wherever they want. As the saying goes, "it's a free country".

                    < shrug >

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      I remember when restaurants that required jackets and ties for men had hideously ugly jackets and ties that men could "borrow" when they ate there if they didn't wear their own.

                      Does that still happen?

                      1. re: chicgail

                        They should, Chicgail, they should. Actually, several years ago when Chef GE was still at Avenues, I forgot(really!) to wear my sportscoat. They had blue ones in several sizes that guests could borrow.
                        Personally, I wouldn't go to Alinea, Trotter's etc in anything less than a suit/sportcoat and tie and NEVER in jeans. I feel that dressing nicely is a sign of respect for the chef, the restaurant and what they are trying to accomplish. On occasion, being dressed up in lesser restaurants has gotten us better service.
                        Really, is it that hard to get dressed up and look nice for your wife/girlfriend/significant other for a couple of hours?

                        1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                        1. re: hoppy2468

                          >> I feel that dressing nicely is a sign of respect for the chef, the restaurant and what they are trying to accomplish.

                          It's also a sign of respect for the other diners and their enjoyment of their meal.

                          I don't normally want to be *more* dressed up than other patrons in the restaurant, although there are some exceptions and besides, being overdressed doesn't bother anyone. But I don't want to be *less* dressed up than the others, and I especially don't want to be conspicuous by doing so. IOW I don't want to be "THAT person" everyone is looking at. Same thing for my dining companion(s).

                          One of the things I like about Opentable is that it gives you an idea of appropriate apparel, including not only whether jackets are required on the high end, but whether jeans are acceptable in the mid-range. And of course, you can always phone the restaurant to ask. When doing so, I don't ask what the "dress code" is, but rather, what most of the customers wear. The restaurant staff is always helpful in answering.

                      2. re: nsxtasy

                        I know of few of the self-important, entitled jackwagons that won't go anywhere that tells them what to wear, too. The reason that restaurants do this is because it is this type of person who will show up to The French Laundry in torn jeans and flip-flops. They are the "I'm the customer and I can do whatever I want" people. The restaurants know they're out there so they have to put policies in place.

            2. Both would be fine. Unless you have a tie clip you might as well omit it if you are comfortable doing so - a lot of the food is interactive and it would be annoying to have your dish taste like tie. I went once without a tie and once with a tie clip.

              1. Dead horse, ye are beaten,