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Alinea or Next?

c
cheffy52 Oct 16, 2011 11:38 AM

In town early Feb for a Culinary Conference.
where to make a reservation/get a ticket.
Alinea or Next
What's the price at Alinea theses days? with and without wine
Want to know how to budget this since company may pick up part of the tab
Thanks

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Alinea
1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

  1. o
    oysterspearls Oct 23, 2011 10:01 AM

    When discussing the "best" there will always be controversial views. Its far to subjective in my opinion. No doubt Alinea earned its place in any best of list. Though I know more then a few experience diners who would argue it being the best. Manresa for example is high on many peoples list. Not to mention the French Laundry and Per Se to some, Saison is getting much praise lately along with Town House and Roberta's tasting menu.

    What I find more important then anything is consistency. I tend to value the opinion of those diners that have visited these restaurants more then once or numerous occasions. Visiting once offers only a snapshot in my book. Restaurants are run by people with all mankind's frailties. What may be considered the best one day may fall short the next. People make mistakes and errors occur.

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    Alinea
    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

    7 Replies
    1. re: oysterspearls
      uhockey Oct 23, 2011 01:58 PM

      I've done all but Town House on your hypothetical list (and would add a number of places to it, incidentally) and still see Alinea as superior - particularly at its price point.

      While Roberta's and Saison are really pushing the envelope with ultra aged meats and humble chefs who are "going back to nature" in a way in both their approach and cooking, neither complete the experence with that undeniable outstanding service of Alinea, TFL, or Per Se.

      Additionally, while TFL, Per Se, and Manresa are truly exquisite cooking - as good as you'll find anywhere, they simply aren't redefining dining like Achatz has done.

      While I've never (and depending on the next "format" may never) dined at ElBulli and have yet to get to Fat Duck Alinea walks that fine line of fun, fantastic, and delicious like very very few. It truly is edible art, but also delicious science.

      http://endoedibles.com

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      Alinea
      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

      1. re: uhockey
        nsxtasy Oct 23, 2011 02:53 PM

        >> TFL, Per Se, and Manresa are truly exquisite cooking - as good as you'll find anywhere, they simply aren't redefining dining like Achatz has done.

        Yup. I've been to all three, and they are indeed excellent. But what Alinea manages to do, that those don't, is to present dishes whose presentation techniques and ingredient combinations are totally unlike what you'll find *anywhere* else in the country, and still manage to come through with amazingly delicious tastes. Alinea offers not just excellent food and excellent service, but also a fun, exciting experience that you will never forget. It's not just better; it's totally different, in a class by itself.

        1. re: nsxtasy
          o
          oysterspearls Oct 23, 2011 03:14 PM

          You won't get no argument from me. I have no doubt Achatz is one that only comes along once in a generation. Though I believe when choosing the very number 1 in practically anything it's highly subjective and a very slippery slope. For example, picking the top half dozen that rise above the rest would be a much easier call if I had to pick.

          1. re: nsxtasy
            nsxtasy Oct 23, 2011 03:22 PM

            On another site, kathryn just posted a link to Alinea's new dessert video. It's pretty amazing and is a perfect example of Alinea's style: www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSoU4mFjMPM

            I still love Lucy Lou's comic strip about Alinea, which also captures the spirit there: http://lucylou.livejournal.com/555828...

            1. re: nsxtasy
              g
              Gonzo70 Oct 24, 2011 09:22 PM

              That dessert looks so incredible. I am really hoping it is still on the menu when I go to Alinea in December!

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              Alinea
              1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

              1. re: nsxtasy
                uhockey Oct 25, 2011 05:49 AM

                Grant linked this on his facebook account a number of days ago. I'm looking forward to seeing it done in person in 2 weeks.

                http://endoedibles.com

              2. re: nsxtasy
                uhockey Oct 23, 2011 03:22 PM

                Techniques I agree. Ingredient combinations I don't. Gagnaire was doing that long before Grant and although he doesn't use nearly as much molecular technique his ability to pair things that seemingly make NO SENSE and have them come out not only good, but redefining, trumps even the Alinea kitchen.

                But that is the thing - Alinea doesn't do ANYTHING the "best" in my opinion. There is prettier food, there is more "special effects" food, there is more delicious food, and there are better sourced ingredients. What they do, however, is put it all together better than anyone I've experienced to date - and they do it every freaking night for 20ish courses without taking months off to re-invent like ElBulli.

                http://endoedibles.com

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                Alinea
                1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

          2. a
            amyliscooking Oct 23, 2011 09:17 AM

            Hello cheffy52,

            I have eaten at Alinea, I have reservations for NEXT in November. I would have to say that if you were to eat at only one of these two restaurants I would go for Alinea. I went and for two people, who only drank water and had coffee at the end of the night, my bill with tax and tip was $555. It was completely worth it, it was a culinary experience I will never forget.

            I look at it in this way, Grant started out with Alinea, and then progressed into his venture at Next, so that is what I wanted to do. I'm very excited about Next, but keep in mind that the menu at Next will be narrowed down to the region/time period they are focusing on. So you the scope of food at Alinea will be a lot broader.

            I hope that helps, but no matter what you choose, you will have a great meal.

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            Alinea
            1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

            2 Replies
            1. re: amyliscooking
              c
              cheffy52 Oct 23, 2011 09:23 AM

              Thanks amy,
              My plan right now is to make reservations at Alinea and then try for Next on the Sunday we are going to be in town. In Feb it's supposed to be the elbulli menu so I'm sure getting tickets may be a bugger but it's worth a try.

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              Alinea
              1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

              1. re: cheffy52
                a
                amyliscooking Oct 23, 2011 09:40 AM

                I didn't know it was the El Bulli menu, wow ok, looks like I will being trying to get those tickets as well- Good Luck!

            2. c
              cheffy52 Oct 23, 2011 09:02 AM

              Dang!! I didn't know I needed a dispensation from the Pope to go to dinner!!
              Let's back up. It's been stated that the average price for Alinea w/o wine is $210. where we got $450 was probably multi wine pairings.
              Yes I am expecting to drop the better part of $600 into the Alinea bank account. So what!
              so, some say it's not the "best meal in the country" Can I judge that for myself? Yes I've done TFL, Per Se, Danial, WD-50, Bocuse and actually was a semi finalist for the Bocuse d Or. I think I can judge what I like. I just wanted an opinion on what Chicago people recommend not the moral status of spending hard earned disposable income.
              If you don't like the cost then just stay at Steak and Shake. Geezzz.

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              Alinea
              1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

              1. d
                DutchOenophile Oct 22, 2011 07:23 AM

                You really can't directly compare Alinea and Next, IMHO; they're apples and oranges. Alinea is haute (molecular-inspired) cuisine; Next is not. Depends if you want a gastronomic, haute experience.

                Personally, I do not agree with the statement that Alinea is the "best meal you'll get in the USA" (not by a long shot) but its certainly the best in Chicago.

                What's this stuff about morality and why does it belong in this thread? The writer of a post says they're "not saying it is"--then why ask the question? Please.

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                Alinea
                1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                8 Replies
                1. re: DutchOenophile
                  nsxtasy Oct 22, 2011 09:30 AM

                  >> Personally, I do not agree with the statement that Alinea is the "best meal you'll get in the USA" (not by a long shot) but its certainly the best in Chicago.

                  You're welcome to your opinion, but it disagrees with this worldwide survey done every year by Restaurant magazine which names it the best restaurant in North America: www.theworlds50best.com/awards/1-50-w... Of the ones they list as the top 100 in the world, I haven't been to many of the ones overseas, but I've been to most of the ones in the States, and Alinea is the best by far IMHO.

                  1. re: nsxtasy
                    uhockey Oct 22, 2011 01:31 PM

                    I entirely agree with nsxtasy here - I've been to all but MASA and the newly appointed Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare amongst the US 3* spots and I've been to nearly every US location on the S. Pelligrino list plus SIX of the Michelin 3*s in Paris. The only one that topped Alinea was Gagnaire at the Rue Balzac when Chef himself was manning the kitchen.

                    I've had some great meals and while it is safe to disagree regarding personal tastes I find (not by a longshot) a bit.....well.....of a long shot in terms of accuracy.

                    http://endoedibles.com

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                    Alinea
                    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                    1. re: uhockey
                      lynnlato Oct 23, 2011 03:08 PM

                      I loved my experience at Alinea and these food experiences are so subjective. Alinea was a memorable food experience and definitely in my top 5, but I thought Per Se was just a smidge better(although the morel "dessert" they did just for me b/c I am a type 1 diabetic was one of the most amazing things I've ever watched come together and eaten). I just returned from Paris and I decided to skip the famously starred places (especially after reading Achatz's book Life on the Line wherein he describes how disappointed he was by his meals there). Instead I chose Agape Substance for my splurge meal and let me tell you, it was money & time well spent. David Toutain is rising star.

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                      Alinea
                      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                      1. re: lynnlato
                        uhockey Oct 23, 2011 03:18 PM

                        You missed out - Achatz's experiences in tha book were with the "old guard." What some of the nouveau greats are doing over there is truly outstanding and if you go back Gagnaire, L'Arpege, and LeDoyen should be saught out.

                        As an endocrinologist I find your comment about the Per Se dessert truly outstanding - I guess I've never really thought about if/how a top establishment would cater to a Type1 who really wanted to remain diabetes friendly. If anyone could do it well, a Keller Kitchen could.

                        http://endoedibles.com

                        1. re: uhockey
                          lynnlato Oct 23, 2011 07:15 PM

                          I had limited time in Paris (3 nights) and so I didn't want to over-schedule myself. I tend to do that sometimes. But I researched well and had great food experiences. I should mention that i really enjoyed reading about your trip to Paris with your sister. You packed a whole lot of food into your time there and I think my pancreas cried after I read about all the baked goods you had the priviledge to indulge in. Don't let your patients know about any of that! ;-)

                          I'm sorry, I wasn't clear - it was Alinea that accomodated my diabetes
                          so wonderfully. I truly appreciated their efforts and was pleasantly surprised by their efforts because the woman who took my reservation seemed mildly annoyed when I mentioned that I was type 1 (even though she asked if we had any dietary restrictions).

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                          Alinea
                          1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                        2. re: lynnlato
                          n
                          Nancy S. Oct 23, 2011 04:25 PM

                          David Toutain is also most charming. I too had an excellent experience at Agape Substance, especially since we sat at the table at the pass. Our entire dinner was explained bite by bite by David.

                          1. re: Nancy S.
                            lynnlato Oct 23, 2011 07:22 PM

                            Nancy, I almost did a little chair dance after each course. Each one was just brilliant. I couldn't get over that the chef comes to the table and describes each course - amazing! The sea urchin was my first experience with one and I loved it. It all appealed to me because it was surprisingly casual & simple, yet fun, exotic and creative too. Just brilliant.

                            Hell, even the toilet was an entertaining experience! Ha!

                    2. re: DutchOenophile
                      w
                      willyum Oct 22, 2011 01:27 PM

                      >>> Personally, I do not agree with the statement that Alinea is the "best meal you'll get in the USA" (not by a long shot) <<<

                      So please name the restaurants in the US where you think one will consistently be serverd a better meal than Alinea ... for sure I'd love to hear about them, as would many others here on CH.

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                      Alinea
                      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                    3. JB BANNISTER Oct 17, 2011 10:51 AM

                      I have done Alinea twice and had a good time. Plan for $450 a person (tip included) and you will be fine.

                      Personally I like BOKA next door. I think that chef has another place also.

                      Every time I go to Chicago I will go to BOKA and Purple Pig.

                      But you need to do Alinea at least once.

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                      Alinea
                      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                      Purple Pig
                      500 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: JB BANNISTER
                        nsxtasy Oct 17, 2011 12:08 PM

                        >> Personally I like BOKA next door. I think that chef has another place also.

                        Boka is indeed an excellent "casual fine dining" restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine, one of many such restaurants in Chicago. It's not Alinea by any means, but it's very good at what it does.

                        The executive chef at Boka is Giuseppe Tentori, who recently opened GT Fish & Oyster. Boka is the original and flagship restaurant of the Boka Group; in addition to these two, it also includes Girl and the Goat, Perennial Virant, and the upcoming Balena. The Boka Group is led by its founders, Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm.

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                        Alinea
                        1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                        Boka
                        1729 North Halsted, Chicago, IL 60614

                        Perennial Virant
                        1800 N Lincoln, Chicago, IL 60614

                        Girl and the Goat
                        809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

                        GT Fish and Oyster
                        531 N. Wells St., Chicago, IL

                        1. re: nsxtasy
                          c
                          cheffy52 Oct 17, 2011 12:14 PM

                          isn't the chef at Girl and the Goat from Top Chef a few seasons back?

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                          Girl and the Goat
                          809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661

                          1. re: cheffy52
                            nsxtasy Oct 17, 2011 12:58 PM

                            Yes, Stephanie Izard. She's also a co-owner, as the Boka Group does with all of its chefs. Many of us locals still remember Izard as the chef-owner of Scylla before she became a national television celebrity. Scylla was a seafood-focused restaurant in Bucktown where Takashi is now.

                        2. re: JB BANNISTER
                          i
                          ianblecher Oct 21, 2011 07:19 PM

                          Do you think it's immoral to spend $450 per person on a dinner? I'm not saying it is. Just curious about your opinion.

                          1. re: ianblecher
                            chicgail Oct 21, 2011 09:06 PM

                            I think the "morality" of it is a very personal question.

                            What is the thinking or the concern that underlies your question?

                            1. re: ianblecher
                              uhockey Oct 22, 2011 05:40 AM

                              No. Why?

                              I bust my butt and have achieved 26 years of education to be where I am - am I not entitled to spend what I earn as I please?

                              I take care of "The 99%" and feel no need to justify when I choose to live like the "1%"

                              Chef Achatz has made many of comments about what they provide - it is an experience, and one well worth the money if you have it and love such things.
                              http://endoedibles.com

                              1. re: ianblecher
                                nsxtasy Oct 22, 2011 06:51 AM

                                >> Do you think it's immoral to spend $450 per person on a dinner?

                                No, I don't. But anyone who thinks that it's immoral - or profligate, or an unwise expenditure for any other reason - is welcome to pass on the opportunity to go to what is widely considered the best restaurant in the country. When it's your money, you get to decide how and where to spend it.

                                1. re: ianblecher
                                  h
                                  HoosierFoodie Oct 22, 2011 07:50 AM

                                  This is interesting and I am both curious and confused. Why would it be immoral?

                              2. k
                                kathryn Oct 17, 2011 10:06 AM

                                Alinea is the only realistic option.

                                You won't be ABLE to get into Next from January to March.

                                This is because starting in January, Next is doing a El Bulli inspired menu with only 64 seats a night. The vast majority of these seats will likely be available to Next yearly subscribers ONLY; even then, it still will be a very hot ticket.

                                Unless you have good friends w/ deep pockets in Chicago who get lucky in December & purchase a Next subscription & offer you a seat at their table in February, I'd forget about it.

                                The restaurant says might also save some same day tables for the El Bulli menu but if you're traveling to Chicago, I think you're so much safer making a reservation at Alinea. Much less risky.

                                https://www.facebook.com/permalink.ph...

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                                Alinea
                                1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: kathryn
                                  f
                                  ferret Oct 17, 2011 10:34 AM

                                  There is, however, a resale market for Next.

                                  1. re: ferret
                                    k
                                    kathryn Oct 17, 2011 10:46 AM

                                    I suppose but it's going to be a lot harder for scalpers to operate when the El Bulli dinner is tied to a specific subscription.

                                    1. re: kathryn
                                      f
                                      ferret Oct 17, 2011 11:58 AM

                                      No. Next has a process on their website for transferring tickets (although they frown on profiteering there are occasionally good reasons to pass tickets on and some resellers may be more reasonable).

                                      1. re: ferret
                                        k
                                        kathryn Oct 17, 2011 12:49 PM

                                        My assumption is that if you are buying a subscription from Next and if you don't dine there but only transfer the individual meals to others (and different people each time), Next will realize this, and cancel the rest of your subscription.

                                        Of course we don't know the rules yet for subscriptions--they may be un-transferrable for all we know.

                                  2. re: kathryn
                                    uhockey Oct 17, 2011 04:08 PM

                                    The tickets will be hard to get because of foodie-hype + the ElBuli aspect, but they're still likely to have many tickets available to non-subscribers.

                                    That noted, no matter what menu NEXT is doing, Alinea is a superior restaurant. The best in North America.

                                    http://endoedibles.com

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                                    Alinea
                                    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                                    1. re: uhockey
                                      k
                                      kathryn Oct 17, 2011 04:30 PM

                                      This is what Nick wrote on the Facebook page, from the link I added above:

                                      "Subscriptions will happen in December. The reason we will have to tie El Bulli to subscriptions is because: a) people want subscriptions b) el bulli menu will only serve one seating per night = to 64 people c) if we offer annual subscriptions and include El Bulli, then we have to tie in the price difference to the subscription -- and only have 64 per night x 4 menus to sell. The 8 PM to 10:30 PM seats will be for the other 3 menus and will be normal tickets / same night seats via FB as before. I think it is a fair mix between the two types and allows the most flexibility for customers and the restaurant service. We will likely hold a few El Bulli seats for same night as well."

                                  3. uhockey Oct 16, 2011 01:24 PM

                                    Next is okay.
                                    Alinea is the best meal you will eat in the United States.

                                    Next is a hit/miss annoyance of internet refreshing. It will cost you $100-120 w/o wine.
                                    Alinea will take a lot of calls - but if you call December 1 you'll get your seat in February. It is indeed $210, but worth every penny.

                                    The only thing these two have in common is Achatz - and one is simply MUCH better in all ways save for the pricetag (which all things being equal is a deal for the experience)

                                    http://endoedibles.com

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                                    Alinea
                                    1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

                                    1. nsxtasy Oct 16, 2011 12:14 PM

                                      I would recommend Alinea, for several reasons. First, it's much easier to get a reservation (just call up first thing in the morning of December 1, for February reservations, and you'll probably get the date and time you want). With Next, you have to be really really lucky, and otherwise you may spend hours at your computer without getting a ticket. And second, dinner at Alinea is really the food experience of a lifetime. (Yes, it's THAT good.)

                                      Alinea has one tasting menu consisting of approximately 17-18 courses. I think it's $210 per person, not including tax/tip or beverages. They are very flexible on wine; you can get anything from wine by the glass or bottle, to standard pairings, to deluxe pairings, and if you want you can split the pairings with others. I believe the standard pairings for one person are 2/3 the price of the menu, which would be $140.

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                                      Alinea
                                      1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

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