Monday, February 23, 2009


We celebrated one of us becoming old with an amazing dinner at Alinea Saturday night. We had been looking forward to this event for quite some time (the reservation was made on December 1st), and we're happy to report it didn't disappoint. This meal set a new record for most expensive dinner, but there's no question that it was worth it. Fortunately, it was generously subsidized by our friends Angi, Nathan, Ben, and Erin, who gave us a gift certificate as a wedding present - thanks guys!

There are only two options at Alinea: a 12-course "Tasting" or a 24-course "Tour". Knowing that this would likely be our only visit, it was a no-brainer: go all out with the Tour. Most of the other diners in the room that we were in (which held 6 other tables) had the Tasting, so we spent a lot of time either trying to ignore their dishes (so we wouldn't be spoiled for ours) or trying to figure out the differences between their Tastings and our Tour.

So as you can imagine, it is no small feat to describe 24 courses in a way that does the meal justice, especially when each course comprised several ingredients/techniques/sensations. For that reason, we are going to break up our recap into several posts, so that we can try to wring out all the goodness that we remember (for your and our mutual benefit) and include pictures of each dish. (Hopefully. We do not generally take photos of food, so we'll try to cull good representations from the internet.)

To whet your appetite for the next few posts, here is the specially printed menu that we received at the end of the meal. (They described each course as it arrived, but we didn't see the full menu until the meal was over.)

The circle in the middle of each course name has many meanings, and helps to show the progression of the meal. The position of the circle denotes how savory (left) or sweet (right) the course was. The larger the circle, the larger the course (the smallest courses were just one bite). And the darker the circle, the more intense the flavor of that course.

SPOILER ALERT: If you are planning to go to Alinea yourself in the next 6 months or so, 1) lucky you!, and 2) you may not want to go any further with these posts. While we usually study up a fair bit before going to a new restaurant so we know what to order or expect, we purposely kept ourselves in the dark about Alinea, and that was a good thing. We didn't want our experiences to be tinted by having specific expectations or being overinformed about anything.

So, napkins on laps, forks at the ready, and awaaaaayyy we go!

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