Eating/Drinking

Chicago’s Most Acclaimed Restaurant Offers Comfort Food to Go

Photo courtesy of Alinea/Facebook

If there’s one sliver of a silver lining to this time of quarantine, it’s the fact that it affords us all the unique opportunity of ordering takeout from one of the world’s most acclaimed restaurants. In addition to the horde of other eateries pivoting to takeout and curbside pickup across the city, the one-and-only Alinea has joined ranks, instantly becoming the most in-demand to-go restaurant in Chicago.

Alinea, currently the only spot in town with a full three Michelin stars, is well known for its mind-bending molecular gastronomy and elaborate tasting menus that teeter on culinary theater and routinely cost more than $300 per person. After all, this is the kind of gustatory temple that’s made headlines for things like crystal-clear pumpkin pie, edible balloons, and dessert platters that look shockingly akin to a Jackson Pollock masterpiece. While you won’t be able to order a tasting menu to go, which thankfully cuts way down on that price tag, you can still expect some above-and-beyond surprises from chef Grant Achatz and co. when you bring the Alinea experience home.

First of all, the signless restaurant on Halsted Street is instantly recognizable with its surefire swarm of cars idling out front (fear not, everyone adheres to safe social distancing standards by remaining in their cars as staffers shuttle food out from the restaurant). In a stark departure from the standard dining protocol here, Alinea is offering set meals for about $40 per person, starting with an impressively/surprisingly classic beef Wellington meal, accompanied by buttery mashed potatoes, crème brûlée, and easy-to-follow instructions for how to prepare and/or reheat at home. You can also add à la carte dishes, like brussels sprouts, rolls, and curried squash soup. While these offerings make up the starting lineup, Alinea aims to change things up periodically, all while adhering to a comfort food template. The current menu includes coq au vin with mashed potatoes, mustard-dressed salad, and dark chocolate pot de crème.

So how do you get your hands on some Alinea takeout? Book your pickup time slot on Tock, the reservations site founded by Alinea’s tech-savvy co-owner and innovator Nick Kokonas. While the site typically serves as a reservations aggregator for restaurants all over the country and the world, it’s temporarily shifted to allocate time slots for pickup.

Prepaid pickup orders can be made for parties as small as one or as large as eight.