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Alinea: A Peek at the Unmentionables

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jul 12, 2006 6:00PM

2006_07_alimenthols.jpg Folks who consider themselves foodies are wildly opinionated about Alinea mastermind Grant Achatz. Either he's the greatest thing to happen to fine dining since the discovery of fire, or he's the epitome of pretension; a Pied Piper leading diners to a new, but not necessarily better, culinary world.

Leave it to the fine folks who discuss food over at LTH Forum to place Alinea into perspective. Forum member "Dmnkly" recently enjoyed Achatz's 24-course gastronomic thrill ride, then posted pictures and descriptions of each course. The course descriptions are simple and informative. "Dmnkly" explains in plain English the delicate balance of ingredients in each course and the gradual changes of complementary flavors. He also gives a "Cliff's Notes" take on the "molecular gastronomy" movement, of which Achatz is possibly its most notable acolyte.

The post is the perfect resource for folks still on the fence about wanting to dine at Alinea (well, those who can afford to), doubters, and the already converted. It should be noted that "Dmnkly" went into Alinea skeptical about what he calls "nerdy chefs of science", but left convinced that Achatz - and fellow chefs like Homaru Cantu at moto - are paving a new road. Having eaten at Alinea ourselves, Chicagoist understands what Achatz is trying to achieve, and we found our meal highly enjoyable. But would it hurt you, Grant, to place a full porterhouse steak on one of those gossamer wires now and then?

Photo of Alinea's "menthol" dish courtesy of "Dmnkly" and LTH Forum.

7/13/2K6 Update: Readers may also check out Dmnkly's website for the Alinea review. Go through his archives, as well, as he's put together a wonderful food website.