LAST YEAR'S POSITION 15
YEARS ON THE LIST 8
Modernist techniques and artistry come together to astonishing effect
Grant Achatz has been a world leader in culinary innovation since opening Alinea in Chicago back in 2005. Dishes such as hot potato, cold potato and black truffle explosion, as well as food suspended on wires or plated straight on to the table, have become iconic around the globe. And nearly a decade on, the chef continues to push the boundaries of avant-garde cuisine with his ever-evolving menus.
Located in Lincoln Park, Alinea is a truly modern restaurant. Divided into four distinct rooms to allow patrons privacy and an uninterrupted dining experience, the contemporary décor features special lighting allowing for the colour of the walls to change and create different moods. But that’s just where the magic begins. Alinea’s ground-breaking tasting menus typically comprise 15 to 19 courses and take diners on an unapologetically mind-blowing journey. The kitchen uses modernist techniques to astonishing effect with artistic plating and plenty of table theatre.
There’s the edible balloon, made from dehydrated apple and filled with helium, or a table-top camp-fire whose logs turn out to be charred parsnips. More recently, dishes have started to move away from the more in-your-face theatrics to offer more subtle creations where the drama takes place off-stage. What remains, however, are transcendent flavours and beautiful presentation throughout.
Achatz has expanded his business in recent years with the openings of the retrospective but ingenious restaurant Next and the brilliant, experimental cocktail bar Aviary. But Alinea remains the core vehicle for his creative genius, now under the day-to-day stewardship of chef de cuisine Mike Bagale.