In January of this year, one of America’s hottest restaurants — Alinea — shuttered its doors for an extensive revamp. In the past few weeks leading up to the upcoming reopening of the three Michelin-starred Chicago restaurant, chef Grant Achatz has hosted a series of bizarre and unique popup dinners. During one such dinner, waiters served envelopes with a message inside that simple stated, “please shut up,” and diners were required to eat that course (an all-white dish of Marcona almonds, clamshell mushrooms, and white asparagus), in silence.
But, according to Grant Achatz, the seven-figure renovation of both menu and décor, will actually place less emphasis on the “shock value” of molecular gastronomic techniques, and more on the emotions evoked from dining.
“A good cook will understand nuances in layers of flavors through seasoning: maybe it’s acid, spice, bitterness,” chef Achatz told The New York Times. “We want to keep that going. How do we season with sound? With light? With elements of emotions? For us, that makes the experience more complex and nuanced.”
The restaurant’s interior now favors warm tones and lighting, “plush seating and banquettes,” and leans toward aesthetic classicism. The downstairs Gallery has been fitted with a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system and will feature performance artists when it opens.