While the Bears were losing, my husband and I were living it up at Alinea
courtesy of four generous friends who chipped in on a gift certificate back in October. I was excited as hell when I made the reservations in December, but frankly as we got dressed to leave the house I was kind of dreading it. Having gorged myself at Avec
and Del Toro
in recent weeks, I was feeling burned out on fancy food, and after a long day watching Deadwood
on DVD I just wasn't in the mood to have a meal where all we were going to talk about during the meal was the meal.
But once the food started coming I couldn't stop giggling. It was almost all transcendently delicious--I won't bother to explain how, as I'm not a restaurant reviewer and everyone
in the world
is doing that already--but one thing that struck me as crazy was how morsels of food you'd leave on your plate at any other restaurant were key. Take the three tiny broccoli florets with the beef (two bites of short rib sealed under a translucent gelatinous film made out of Guinness). They were the size of the bits you scrape into the garbage can after you cut up broccoli at home, but there they were, caramelized and artistically arranged and described specifically by the waiter. My favorite part of the "orange" dessert course--a little bar of orange ice (?) and olive-oil ice cream--was a couple of white crumbs off to the side, apparently made of infused olive oil. Their mild sweetness was set off by microscopic bits of salty picholine olive; their texture lasted for a second in your mouth and then sort of melted into a little flood of vanilla flavor.
Alinea should get their implement guys
(pdf) to invent some sort of stainless steel-handled squeegee so you can get every last smear of precious flavor off each plate before they take it away.