Gourmet Magazine has just come out with their every-five-years list of the best restaurants in the country and Chicago restaurant Alinea has come out on top!
I've linked to Alinea before, referencing chef Grant Achatz as one of the Chicago triumverate of techno-chefs/ molecular gastronomists. I've got a post about molecular gastronomy in the works, but for now here's a quick definition:
Molecular Gastronomy applies the principles of chemistry and physics to cooking - by examining how foods react to different cooking methods, and which foods combine well on a chemical level, chefs are able to experiment with new food combinations and methods to create unusual menus with stunning results.While Alinea and Achatz are firmly in the molecular gastronomy camp, they play with their food while also managing to make it taste good and providing top notch service. At least, that's what all the reports say - my first trip is coming up in little under a month. Having had the pleasure of eating twice at Achatz's previous restaurant, Trio, I've been eagerly anticipating a meal at the Alinea since the restaurant opened about a year and a half ago. Now I'm even more excited (and glad I made my reservation far in advance - it's always been a hard reservation to get, and will only get more difficult with this latest accolade).
From the Gourmet article:
Then the curtain goes up, and the fireworks begin. This is dining as performance art, and each tiny interactive dish teases, astonishes, delights. You pull out a pin and watch a little puff of cheesy hot potato drop into a tiny curved cuplet of soup that you slurp as if it were an oyster. A single perfect bite of lamb comes buried in smoldering eucalyptus leaves. A tiny ravioli is filled with the intensity of liquid truffle; it is almost impossible not to exclaim as it bursts inside your mouth. As you do, the servers smile, pleased by your pleasure; they too are participants in the experience, and they are there to help you enjoy the meal.You can expect to see my write up of my meal (and my entire culinary sojourn to Chicago) in about a month. Until then, check out the massive Alinea thread on eGullet, filled with tantalizing descriptions and pictures.