It was 20+ courses of the most deliciously flavorful and textural food I have consumed paired with excellent wines. In the three hours that passed while I was enjoying one culinary masterpiece after another I was not distracted by anything aside from good conversation. The few (two I think) times I was alone for a few minutes I took the chance to send a text message or two.
The building that houses Alinea is fairly non-desrcript. You could easily walk past when it was not in operation. During the times the doors are open it would remain difficult to spot as only a single doorman is present to help guests out of and into vehicles. I liked that it was filled but not crowded. Three other parties shared the same dining room, groups of 4, 3, and 1.
Like the exterior of the building the inside was decorated minimalistically, no patterns on the walls and the art used to decorate was muted in color. The tables themselves were black lacquered wood with white table dressing. No table cloth but instead two small pillows to hold the silverware off the dining surface. The serving dishes were of a custom design white ceramic or bare silver/steel metal.
5 stars without a doubt. For those of you who have had the chance to visit Gary Danko in San Francisco. Alinea is not so much better, but while Gary Danko offers fabulous traditional fare Alinea is filled contemporary culinary creations. The flavor – sensory centers of my brain are still coming to terms with everything that they experienced.
It is worth the trip to Chicago even if all you do is dine at Alinea.