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Feb 24, 2011 08:34 AM


I am intending upon taking my significant other here for his birthday in July. He is a cook and aspiring chef and he has never had the chance to dine here. While there, I am going to inquire about a kitchen tour.

Anyway, I would love to know more about the service, ambiance and the wine. Would you describe the service as obtrusive? How long is dinner? What are the seating times (earliest and latest reservation)? As far as wine, I am not interested in the pairing. I'd like more info on their by the glass and bottle offerings. General pricings as well. For example, I'd like to start with 2 glasses of champagne at the table when we arrive.

Thanks in advance!

1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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  1. >> Would you describe the service as obtrusive?

    No. In fact, quite the opposite. The staff is excellent and well trained, in my experience. For example, they will not come over and interrupt a conversation, and are sensitive to what's going on. I thought they were exemplary, one of the best anywhere.

    >> How long is dinner?

    I haven't been there since they changed their menu offerings six months ago. Before that, they had a smaller 12-course menu for a dinner lasting three hours, and a larger 23-course menu lasting 4.5-5.0 hours. They now have one menu with roughly 18 courses; I would guess 3.5-4.0 hours.

    >> What are the seating times (earliest and latest reservation)?

    I don't know, sorry. If I had to guess, I would say 5:30 and 9:30, respectively, but you can call them to be sure.

    >> As far as wine, I am not interested in the pairing. I'd like more info on their by the glass and bottle offerings. General pricings as well. For example, I'd like to start with 2 glasses of champagne at the table when we arrive.

    They have a variety of wines and price ranges, for glasses as well as bottles. Two years ago, we had a glass of red wine and my recollection is it was priced in the $10-15 range - probably their least expensive offering.


    1. osteria:

      I agree with nsxtasy's comments and I share his ignorance. When you make the reservation you might ask about the wine and I'm sure that they can accommodate you with champagne on the table. Also, be sure that you request the kitchen tour when you make the reservation. Depending on the timing, they may be able to do the tour before or after (ours was after). Our meal was under the new format and lasted about 3 hours with 10 minutes in the kitchen just observing (you don't really get to walk around, but it's fantastic to watch).

      1. Thanks for your help thus far.

        I had no doubt that the service is stellar, but glad to hear they don't hover.

        For wine, I was thinking of ordering a glass of champagne, a glass of white and a glass of red for each of us. There is a possibilty that I may skip the white and order a bottle of red instead.

        His birthday is July 4th so I'm thinking of doing a 5 o'clock seating and then headind down for a stroll on Navy Pier to see the fireworks.

        I intend on contacting the restaurant after I make the reservation to set everything up. Do you think they'd be willing to email a copy of their wine list?

        1. I hate to take this off topic but I didn't want to start ANOTHER Alinea thread. What are the reservation specifics for Alinea? How far out can you reserve? Is there anything else you would reccomend requesting outside of the kitchen tour? Will they be requesting a CC to hold the reservation and what are the cancellation policies? I'm looking to book for my bday in July as well.

          1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

          4 Replies
          1. re: Chefcon


            From what I was told on the phone a few days ago when I called, they will start accepting reservations for ALL dates in July as of May 1.

            As far as reservations, from the research I did online, they do request a credit card to hold the table and I *believe* there may be a fee if you do not cancel within 24 hours (but don't quote me on that part).

            1. re: osteria

              I believe it's a $100 charge per person if you cancel less tan 48 hours before the reservation.

              1. re: Coogles

                Thank you both for this information.

            2. re: Chefcon

              You can reserve 3 months out. For my May 22th resy, the earliest I could call was March 1 (and no problems getting a table at 8:45 pm).

            3. Thought this may be of interest to any others who may be thinking of having a special dinner at Alinea. I emailed their office the following email:

              "I intend upon booking a reservation for July (and I'm aware I cannot do this until May 1) but I had a few questions I was wondering about and was hoping you all could answer them for me.

              Is it at all possible to have a wine list emailed to me? I am aware that you all do a wine pairing, but I'd prefer to either do a champagne, a white and a red by the glass or order a nice bottle of red and wanted to take a peek at the offerings. I am aware that the list could very well change prior to July, but would still like to look at it nonetheless.

              How long does a standard dinner take? Also, I am interested in setting up a tour of the kitchen...what seating time would you suggest to best allow for a viewing of the kitchen, an early or a late one? "

              The response was:
              "Thank you for your inquiry. We do not publish our wine list, but if you have specific questions about our wine I would be more than happy to have one of our sommeliers give you a call. Once you schedule a reservation, we would be more than happy to arrange for a tour of the kitchen at the time of your dinner, but that is subject to whether the kitchen would have time. There would not be a difference between an earlier or later reservation in regards to a kitchen tour. Dinner usually lasts between 2 1/2 and 3 hours. Please advise if I may be of further assistance."

              1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

              3 Replies
              1. re: osteria

                "Dinner usually lasts between 2 1/2 and 3 hours."

                Because I'm a complete nerd, when we went to Alinea in November I had to take pictures of all the courses as they hit the table. We arrived at 5:30 pm for our reservation, according to the EXIF data in the pictures the first course arrived at 6:09 pm with the last course landing on the table at 8:37 pm. IIRC we left the restaurant at around 9:15 pm or so.

                1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                1. re: Coogles

                  If there is a specific time that you would like to be done with dinner, I suggest letting them know when making your reservation, so that they can pace your dinner accordingly.

                  The fireworks are scheduled to start at 9:30, according to the Navy Pier website.

                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Our meal took exactly 3 hours. Almost to the minute. As for service, they were not obtrusive at all and very friendly. Fun to talk too.
                    However, we made our reservation late in the game and were stuck with a 5:30 slot. Which meant we got there before anyone else and ate the first couple courses with just us and the staff near us. My wife commented they were watching us eat which made her feel a little awkward. But no biggie. It was kind of funny.
                    I guess she heard them whispering that she and I were taking our first bites at the same time. (which I think we do out of habit, to see each others reaction).
                    Anyway, I digress. It was a little awkward there but other than that they were stellar.
                    I also neglected to ask for a kitchen tour, which was heartbreaking. And it wasn't offered. But I'm sure it's because they were in full swing when we left and we may have been in the way.
                    At any rate, I'll definitely ask for it next time.
                    Have a great time there. Alinea is easily in the top 3 dining experiences I've ever had.
                    P.S. Do the pairings. It was worth it to us as it was well paired. My wife enjoyed how they paired a Sauterns with the Earl Grey dish. Very nice.

                    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614