I Went to Alinea, 1 of the Best Restaurants in the World, and This Is What It Was Like
I've never considered myself a foodie. While I love trying new restaurants and Instagram-worthy dishes, I'm not really into trying completely out-there foods (unless they're covered in chocolate). But when I was recently invited to a tasting event at Alinea organized by Chase Sapphire — Chicago's only three-Michelin-starred restaurant and one of the best in the entire world — I knew I couldn't pass it up. Cofounder and chef Grant Achatz opened Alinea in 2005, and in the 14 years since, has pushed himself to give visitors a dining experience unlike any other. And he has truly succeeded.
During our multisensory, multi-course meal, the setting continually changed depending on the dish. While I never left my seat, the lighting was dimmed and brightened (which is why my photos aren't superbeautiful), certain foods had a musical soundtrack, and scents were added to our table or the entire room to enhance the tasting. It wasn't just dinner, it was a journey, and that's exactly what Chef Grant intended Alinea to be.
A big part of what Chef Grant does is deconstruct food and present it in innovative, delicious new ways. I ate caviar for the first time (not bad!) in a crunchy white shell with yogurt and sesame, asparagus that looked more like coral (but was extremely tasty), and basil that looked like clear jello (not kidding!). But the one thing that really blew my mind was the French fry cream, aka French fries that were deconstructed and turned into a rich, addicting cream that somehow tasted even better than the original food.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the savory courses, dessert was really the best part of the entire experience. After blowing sugar and candy scents into the entire room and bringing a large canvas that resembled a work of art to each table, multiple chefs from the kitchen — including Grant himself — took turns leaving something on our canvas. This included everything from mini fig doughnuts to chocolate sauce to cookie pieces to something strawberry flavored that was frozen with nitrogen. And, if that wasn't enough sugar, the night ended with Alinea's famous green apple helium balloons (more on that ahead).
It's extremely hard to get reservations at Alinea (you have to book very far in advance), and it costs $290 to $355 per person. But if you do ever have the chance to go, or consider yourself a foodie, it should definitely be at the top of your tasting bucket list. Keep reading for more on what dining at Alinea is like.