Ever promised the world and delivers first-time guests a pretty fine experience. And you think most visitors will leave the restaurant feeling satisfied by the novel food, polished service, and refined atmosphere. They’ll feel satisfied because the heightened expectations were just about met, but you’ve never felt those expectations were truly surpassed.

Like children staring up at Rainforest Cafe’s artificial night sky (or shaking from the booms and quakes of its fake thunderstorms), Alinea’s customers are served an illusion. They are led to believe that a food’s trappings are valuable even when divorced from satisfying flavors, from nature, or from nostalgia. They are tricked into thinking that a restaurant which denies dining’s transcendent, human dimension has any value as a conjurer of culinary gibberish. They are, ultimately, suckers who are being sold a future where a restaurant’s quality grows with how “Instagrammable” the experience is.