The dark days of the pandemic–a reality managed, throughout the meal, unerringly by Alinea’s team–have led the restaurant back towards the fountainhead of its inspiration. No “smoke and mirrors,” just creative cooking–just the drama of the table. Alinea “3.0” is the return to the source from which Achatz–during the decade he helmed Alinea 1.0–made his name.
You cannot say you have eaten at Le Francais or Charlie Trotter’s in their prime, but you feel no fear in saying Smyth is the greatest restaurant Chicago has ever seen. And, by all accounts, the Shieldses are only getting started.
In the final analysis, it is hard not to look back at all four events you attended as a mere cash grab, driven by branding Alinea as the “sort of group” that puts on “wine dinners” in a weak market where they, as usual, will escape any meaningful criticism.
RPM Steak caters to the 99% of customers who did not make a Bavette’s reservation a month in advance of their special dinner. The restaurant caters to the 99% of customers who are impressed with hulking cuts of meat from unknown ranches–customers who take a bite, find they can chew through it, and think: “fair enough!”