Friday, February 10, 2023

Magnificent Dinner at Alinea Kitchen Table

Magnificent Dinner at Michelin 3-Star Alinea Kitchen Table in Chicago

When we closed the business transaction, selling the company and bringing to an end my tenure as CEO, and the next to latest chapter of my storied career in enterprise software, I reserved the Kitchen Table at legendary 3 Michelin Star Alinea Restaurant in Chicago for a celebration dinner. 

Linda and I were joined by son Ryan and d-in-law Michelle, daughter Erin, while husband, son-in-law Johnny was traveling with their two sons to pick up a new car out of state, and son Alec, while d-in-law Viviana was in Connecticut for another special family event. 

Alinea is the only Michelin 3-Star restaurant in the midwest and founder, luminary chef Grant Achatz actually has four (stars) taking into account another star for his second restaurant, Next. 

Achatz, recognized for his contributions to 'molecular gastronomy' or progressive cuisine was featured on a Netflix episode of The Chef's Table.

Achatz' culinary career started working in his parents' diner restaurant in St. Clair, Michigan as a teenager before studying at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Following graduation in 1994, Achatz landed a position at iconic Charlie Trotter's in Chicago, then moved on to Thomas Keller's highly acclaimed The French Laundry, in Yountville, Napa Valley, California. There he eventually rose to the position of sous chef. 

Achatz moved to Chicago in 2001 to become Executive Chef at Mobile four-star Trio in suburban Evanston, earning a coveted fifth star from Mobil, becoming one of just 13 restaurants so honored at the time.

Achatz opened Alinea in 2005, which has become universally recognized for its innovative approach to modern cuisine, having been named the Best Restaurant in the World by Elite Traveler, the Best Restaurant in North America by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and the Best Restaurant in the U.S. by Gourmet and Business Insider. 

Alinea is one of only 14 restaurants in the U.S. to earn the coveted Michelin 3-Star rating. It has also won James Beard Awards for Outstanding Restaurant in the U.S., Outstanding Service in the U.S., and Outstanding Chef in the U.S.

The Kitchen Table is Alinea's premier dining experience, so named as it is adjacent the working kitchen, seating just six, and with its proximity, actually provides incredible entertainment, dinner and a show, watching the choreography of the bee-hive of activity of the chef culinary crew.

The Kitchen Table View

Tonight's Kitchen Table Menu
The other Alinea dining experiences are The Gallery, which combines "fine dining with experimental moments," and The Salon, which offers "a multi-course tasting menu," and the most intimate offering. The three distinct experiences each offer rotating menus that are preset, and mix art, pop-culture and food. 

Its impossible to capture and describe the magnificent experience that is Alinea. Each of the ten dinner courses is an extravaganza of sensory overload, with the presentation, the service, the accompanying music, the accompanying wine pairing, and of course, the food, with its distinctive presentation and sensational explosion of tastes.

For our special dinner, we ordered the Alinea Wine Pairing, their top tier selection of wines matched to each dinner course. I've written often in these pages about the amplifying impact of properly pairing the right food and wine thereby accentuating the enjoyment and experience of each. There was no debate that to optimize the Alinea experience warranted opting for their premier wine pairing as well. 

It was tempting to select wines from their winelist, its thirty-seven pages featuring many of our favorite wines as well as bucket list wines that we've been wanting to try. In the end, experiencing the chef's selection of wine paired to each course was as much a part of the experience as either the wine or the food - not to be missed! 

Everything was spectacular - service, food, wine, presentation, ambiance, the pairing, the Alinea experience. A memorable experience not to be missed!

 The dinner courses and their associated wines:

Krug "Grande"
170Eme Edition

Golden Osetra
Caviar, Caper, Lemon, Onion,
Egg, Brioche

Domaines Ott Chateau Romassan
Mourvedre Blend
Bandol Provence Rose'

Trampoline Papillote
Rouille Turbot Bouillabaisse
Scallop Nicoise

Hot Potato - Cold Potato
Black Truffle & Parmesan

Potinet-Ampieu "Charmes"
Mersault 1Er Cru Burgundy
Chardonnay 2014

Cobia Collar with Mango, Pine,
Uni and Candy Cap Tofu -
Chateau d'YQuem Sauterne Bordeaux 2019

We then were lead into the kitchen to experience the intricate preparation and consumption of the next course, "Spiral", featuring Caramel Apple Pie with Pecan and melted Raclette cheese accompanied with a specially prepared smoked Texas Rye Whiskey Michigan Apple Cider Liquor Sour. 


And, when we returned to our table, the Alinea Kitchen Table has been transformed into an elegant dining setting, where upon we were served the remaining courses. 

Potpourri, Pear, Foie Gras, Angre-Doux

Sine Qua Non
"Esto No Es Una Salida"
Santa Rita Hills

Black Truffle, Romaine, Parmesan

Somellier presenting
Chateau Pichon Baron
Pauillac Bordeaux

Waygu, Bechamel, Bresaola

Then, once again, the Alinea Kitchen Table was transformed for the final course. We adjusted our seating to the two sides of the table while the linens and table centerpieces were replaced with an large acrylic sheet that became the platform to showcase the preparation and presentation of the dessert course. 

Dessert Wine
Boal Frasqueira Madera Port
(Bottled 2022)

And finally - the famous Alinea helium filled taffy green apple sugar balloons ...