Is Alinea For Kids? Chef Grant Achatz! Life On The Line! A Look At Adult Food!

Ever Had Duck With SIXTY Sauces?

Alinea food

Yes, what you see is one of Alinea restaurant’s signature dishes: they serve duck (or lamb, or veal, depending on the menu) four separate ways, and then they put a platter in the center of the table that showcases 60! great sauces and seasonings…an amazing dish that is just one of the signature items on their 3-1/2 hour menu!

So Is It For Infants?

And now of course comes the difficult question: is this type of menu for infants? You’ve seen the Chef’s tweet recently about an 8-month old who raised a fuss in the dining room:

Alinea baby tweet

The parents say their sitter cancelled at the last minute – and Alinea does NOT allow cancellations: once you buy the “tickets” to attend, it’s your job to get rid of them or eat the cost…what do you think, is this really a restaurant for infants?

Life on the line Grant Achatz

Food’s Mad Genius!

If you aren’t aware of Chef Grant Achatz, you have missed one of the culinary world’s most
fascinating and inspiring stories…beginning with his brilliant restaurant in Chicago…

Chef Grant Achatz

Alinea – One Of World’s Greatest Restaurants!

Chef Achatz runs Alinea restaurant in Chicago, always ranked as one of the world’s best restaurants…located on a quiet side street, behind this humble facade…

alinea restaurant

Here is Chef serving a dish at the restaurant the night we ate there…he comes out at various times throughout the night to serve and observe…never saying a word…

Chef Grant Achatz

Sixty Amazing Flavors!

One signature dish is this one…you are given a plate with five preparations of duck…

Alinea restaurant dish

A beautiful plate becomes even more magical when they serve you this for the entire table to share:

Aworld's best restaurants

The platter holds sixty different types of spices and sauce, and you dip and sample any and all as you eat your duck! It is a delicious dish, and brilliant food…so where did this inspiration come from?

Luckily, Chef Achatz has put his dramatic and inspiring story on paper, and you can read all about this brilliant Chef’s food philosophy and his dramatic battle to overcome cancer…

Life, On the Line

Life, On The Line

Life, on the Line: A Chef’s Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat – by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas

“One of America’s great chefs” (Vogue), Grant Achatz, shares how his drive to cook immaculate food fueled his miraculous triumph over tongue cancer.

Chef Grant Achatz

By 2007 chef Grant Achatz had been named one of the best new chefs in America by Food & Wine, he had received the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year Award, and he and Nick Kokonas had opened the conceptually radical restaurant Alinea, which was named Best Restaurant in America by Gourmet magazine. Then, positioned firmly in the world’s culinary spotlight, Achatz was diagnosed with stage IV squamous cell carcinoma-tongue cancer.

Chef Grant Achatz

The prognosis grim, Grant undertook an alternative treatment of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation that ravaged his body and left him without a sense of taste. Tapping into his profound discipline and passion, he trained his chefs to mimic his palate and learned how to cook with his other senses. As Kokonas was able to attest, the food was never better. Five months later, Grant was declared cancer-free and went on to achieve some of the highest honors in the culinary world.

Chef Grant Achatz

“Life, on the Line” is not only a chef’s memoir, it is also a book about survival, about nurturing creativity, and about profound friendship.

Chef grant achatz

He has opened a second restaurant called NEXT, which serves a series of special menus throughout the year…much like Alinea, it is a multi-course, multi-hour experience…do you think an infant can make it through something like this? I wanted to share the menu we enjoyed, called “The Hunt.”


Next Restaurant The Hunt

When you arrive at the restaurant, you are greeted at the table by a note, which explains the concept of the dinner you are about to eat…here is a short excerpt from the paper:

“With this menu we want to explore facets of hunting beyond basic ideas of game meats and hunting as sport, broadening our outlook to include fishing, foraging, and preservation.”

Next restaurant The Hunt menu

Next Restaurant – The Hunt Menu!

So the entire menu evokes the hunting and foraging of food…here is what you get – you are allowed to take pictures at the table as long as you don’t use a flash, so here is the name of each dish, along with a picture and short description:

Hen Of The Woods

Next The Hunt menu hen of the woods

The meal begins with a bowl of mushroom broth, along with a small bowl of intensely flavored wild mushrooms…

Next restaurant mushrooms

Catch Of The Great Lakes

Next up is a small piece of fish from the Great lakes…served smoked (at the bottom), and as a creamy spread to put on pumpernickel bread – plus some pickled kohlrabi to eat between eat bite…

The Hunt Menu Next restaurant Great Lakes fish


Next you receive their playful take on a charcuterie plate…

Charcu-Tree Next restaurant

It’s a collection of preserved meats…so if you are out hunting or foraging, you have something to eat, like deer jerky and wild boar salami, among other preserved meats – five different tastes in all…

Next Restaurant The Hunt flask

The menu is playful and fun – and the service is friendly and informative…in fact, one of the most enjoyable parts of the menu are things like this: the charcu-tree comes with a flask of bourbon to keep you warm while you are out on the hunt…

Alex Duda Next

Alex enjoyed the flavor, which was part of a wine pairing that matches each dish perfectly…

Cellar Aged Carrots & Onions

Next is a small plate with cellar-aged carrots and onions…

The Hunt Next menu carrots

Duck Tongue, Cider Vinegar

A small slice of duck tongue is next, and each dish is intensely flavored and beautifully presented…

The Hunt menu duck tongue

Cue The Cadelabra!

Before the next dish is served, a candelabra is brought to the table…

The Hunt candelabra

Then our server arrives with a warm dish of caviar in sauce, which goes around a beautiful chunk of sturgeon…

Next restaurant The Hunt menu

Sturgeon & Caviar

This dish is intense and delicious – the highlight of a great meal so far…in fact, every course gets better and better…

The Hunt menu sturgeon and caviar

Woodcock Jolie

Next up is a pieces of woodcock, a wild bird that was elaborately presented:

The Hunt menu woodcock

Take a closer look – the dish comes with gold flake garnish, shown here on the upper part of the picture – hard to capture, but a nice touch to the dish:

The Hunt menu woodcock and gold

Pressed Squab

Next up was an ENTIRE Squab, presented several ways.

The Hunt menu squab

The entire squab is served on multiple dishes, like this roasted piece placed on the plate in the middle of the table, and also a slice of pressed squab:

The Hunt menu squab

The dish also comes with a side bowl of porridge:

Next restaurant Hunt menu porridge

Finally, you get the squab leg – as you can tell by the talon…it’s the whole bird to chew on…they recommend that you use your hands and have some fun!

The Hunt menu whole squab leg

Fallen Leaves & Kidney

Next up is a small piece of kidney…presented on a large piece of bark, among fallen leaves from the tree…

The Hunt menu fallen leaves

Here is a closer shot of the kidney:

The Hunt menu kidney

The Hot Rock

Next, they bring out a heated rock, roasted for hours in the oven – you are warned NOT to touch it…

Next Restaurant bison rock

Bison & Bernaise

Then a platter of sliced bison is brought to the table, and you cook it yourself on the rock…

Next restaurant Hunt menu bison

Marrow Brulee

This is followed by bone marrow, served split apart…

The Hunt menu marrow brulee

Maris Otter

To be honest, I can’t quite remember this part of the marrow dish, it was a sort of sauce/pudding, and I think it was part of the marrow dish…I’m sure someone somewhere has posted their recollection of the meal and can share more…

marris ooter

Then they bring out a series of tastes to cleanse your palate – a light course of individual palate cleansers before dessert is presented…

The Hunt menu final course

The Stick Finale!

Finally, they bring you out a stick….for what is a light and delicious way to end this feast!

The Hunt menu stick

Tire D’erable

A plate of ice is presented, and the server slowly pours fresh maple syrup into the ice…

Next restaurant dessert poured on ice

You roll your stick over it and it becomes a maple popsicle to end the night on a light, sweet note…

Next Restaurant The Hunt menu

So, look at that experience and ask yourself: if Alinea is just like this, can a couple really expect to bring an infant to this experience for almost four hours?

Alinea baby tweet

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7 replies

  1. Loving the presentation and the fact that there is a flow and a completeness to the menu. Impressive, and certainly not the place for an infant. That said, if you are not able to cancel (which, *gulp* can you imagine how they felt?! One does not make these reservations lightly) what are you supposed to do? One of my favorite memories of some friend parents is a night out. 1. We requested to be seated as far away from other people as possible and within the realm of service ability. 2. As soon as a fuss began (even though we were not in earshot of anyone) Dad took the babe home and said, “have fun, don’t rush. See you when I see you!” <— wins points for being an awesome Husband and co-diner.


    • Kelly, that is in fact the most difficult part of this: you are on the hook for the meal – you are charged as soon as you make a reservation, and you cannot change the date or time…and yes your Husband deserves big points!


  2. Crazy and so cool! Thanks for documenting your adventure on ‘the hunt’!



  1. Chef Grant Achatz! The World’s Most Inventive Food! « Bite Eat Swallow!
  2. Is Alinea For Kids? Chef Grant Achatz! Life On The Line! A Look At Adult Food! « johnrieber
  3. Alinea! The World’s Most Inventive Restaurant! Culinary Molecular Masterpiece! | johnrieber

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