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Weekend in Chicago

Vanchower Jun 17, 2012 12:36 AM

So my question is Alinea or Next . My wife and I are going to Chicago in mid November for our anniversary. I am a foodie, she a bit less so. She eats fish but no meat. I eat all
So, Alinea or Next or both or somewhere else'?
What will dinner at each set us back? We will be in area of Wacker and State Street.

  1. g
    Gonzo70 Jun 17, 2012 08:57 AM

    Alinea is $210 per/person for food only (not including tax, tip, beverages). Next is typically about $100 per/person for food only. They both are difficult to get into and require some planning, but Next is significantly more difficult. With Next they generally do not do any type of menu modifications or accommodations for allergies whereas they are very open to doing this at Alinea - as such I would not recommend Next for a vegetarian unless they announce that the Kyoto menu will only have minimal meat and/or that they will accommodate vegetarians (possible, but I would not bank on this). Both venues have a single tasting menu, so if your wife is picky and/or not adventurous then it might be prudent to seek a different venue.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Gonzo70
      Vanchower Jun 17, 2012 11:13 AM

      In April, we were at L'Agape Substance in Paris which strikes me as similar to Next. 15 courses, one word descriptions, 129 euros, 179 with wine pairings. They accommodated the meat issue and she would not eat the sea urchin course (which was fine for me because I received two helpings), Next sounded a bit like that. And we both just were blown away by it.
      With Alinea how soon in advance can you try to reserve? I thought I read somewhere that it was three months.
      With Next, exactly how do you purchase a "ticket"?

      1. re: Vanchower
        Gonzo70 Jun 17, 2012 06:36 PM

        Alinea is planning on changing over to pre-pay online reservations; they are hoping to have this in place later this month. As this will be a new system it is not clear how fast they will sell and how far in advance they will be released. Check their website for updates.

        With Next they occasionally release tickets in batches, but do so without advance notice - so you have to be vigilantly watching their website and Facebook page. When they do release tickets they tend to be sold very, very fast - sometimes in minutes. They also typically sell anywhere from 1-4 tables via same night ticket sales. They announce these on their Facebook page usually around 1pm (give or take 1/2 an hour) and then you can e-mail them if interested; about 1/2 an hour to an hour after the tables are announced they e-mail and/or call the lucky recipients. Usually several dozen people are vying for the 1-4 tables each night. You can also watch their Facebook page for people who have tickets making announcements that they are selling their tickets, but this is a bit risky as there have been some instances of fraud.

        1. re: Gonzo70
          Vanchower Jun 17, 2012 07:07 PM

          Thanks Gonzo. If not one of those or even in addition to those, what would be the recommendations?

          1. re: Vanchower
            Gonzo70 Jun 17, 2012 07:17 PM

            Those are my two favorite restaurants; since your wife has some dietary restrictions I would focus on Alinea. If the reservations do not pan out or if you feel your wife might not be adventurous enough to take on the menu there, then Tru is my favorite upscale Chicago restaurant with an a la carte menu. Tru is also much easier to book; they are on Open Table and do not book up too far out generally. Goosefoot is another of my favorites; they also have tasting menu only, but do modify it for dietary restrictions - they are also on Open Table but tend to book up almost as fast as new dates open up, so it does take some effort to book them (though far less than Next).

            1. re: Vanchower
              ferret Jun 18, 2012 09:10 AM

              El Ideas has also been generating buzz for its inventive menus. Hasn't yet been elevated to cult status but might be a unique dining experience for you:


              I also suggest Alinea over Next given food restrictions. There's no request they can't accommodate, although it's best to give them notice.

              And my wife is also not a big fan of fussy menus but she loves Alinea.

              1. re: ferret
                Gonzo70 Jun 18, 2012 08:14 PM

                I love El Ideas, but they also (unless something has changed) do not accommodate special diets or make any substitutions.

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