Kevin and I went back to Chicago last weekend, sans kids, to celebrate a couple birthdays and attend his cousin’s wedding. His mom is a foodie and made reservations eight months ago for a restaurant called Alinea, which recently earned Michelin’s three star rating. That is precisely three stars more than Michelin has given any restaurant I’ve ever eaten at before.
It was a big enough deal for me to change into my very nicest pair of sweats. (It is impossible to look pretty when standing next to my SIL.)
We decided by the end of the evening that what we ate couldn’t be called “dinner” and where we ate couldn’t be called a “restaurant.” It was more like being at a magic show where you could eat all the magic. Or going to Cirque du Soleil, only instead of acrobats they had food. Or at least acrobats that you got to eat afterwards.
Anyway, I’ve jumped ahead of myself.
When we first sat down at Alinea the servers brought us water—Kevin chose bubbly and I chose flat, but I decided shortly that his bubbly was much more suited to me and my flat to him, so I switched glasses. Within seconds two servers had flanked our table and were asking anxiously if there was something wrong with the water and if there was anything at all they could do to remedy the situation, and one of them had started sweating. I felt like I had just pulled a fire alarm.
We assured them everything was fine for us but maybe they should bring this up at their next therapy session. Then we were served this course:
A single leaf that tasted just like an oyster even though none of the ingredients were derived from oysters. It turns our there is a very good reason we swallow oysters whole. I almost made a comment to Kevin about how I could probably make a leaf taste like poop, but that wouldn’t make me want to eat it, but then I remembered the overly anxious servers and I held my thought.
Just as we finished our leaves, Kevin’s dad and Wendy’s husband texted us a picture of their heads next to two gigantic mountains of mashed potatoes (they had gone to J. Alexanders, which I understand to be kind of a Red robin for grown men, instead of Alinea for reasons too complicated to explain).
They told us to enjoy our leaf.
Somewhere during the next course–and there were twenty courses, by the way–I sneezed into my napkin and within seconds a new, clean napkin magically appeared while my old one was whisked away. The servers didn’t miss a single move we made that whole evening. As we watched the chefs and sous chefs working in the kitchen later, it was how I imagined a crew of Navy Seals or brain surgeons would prepare food–nary a smile nor a sideways glance. The hostess told me with a smile that they were all fearing for their lives.
to be continued…
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Breakfast for dinner!! (French toast, bacon, cheesy eggs)