You revel in the fear you once felt when entering revered dining rooms. You treasure the technical errors, faux pas, and outright mortification inflicted upon those who stewarded your earliest gastronomic experiences. For the true test of hospitality staff is how handle those agonizing moments with aplomb, resisting the temptation to twist the knife and solidify a bad memory. Graciousness, on such an occasion, comes close to godliness.

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.