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Alinea or Next?

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

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  1. 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

    1. 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. 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

          There is, however, a resale market for Next.

          1. re: ferret

            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

              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

                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

            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

              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. 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

              >> 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

                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

                  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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      >> 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

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

                    2. 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

                        >> 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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                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.

                                  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

                            >>> 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