Not only did Alinea’s internationally respected chef Grant Achatz win the 2008 James Beard Outstanding Chef Award, he’s also got a hell of a story to tell: In 2007, Achatz was diagnosed with tongue cancer, and doctors said he might lose his sense of taste forever. Thankfully, an aggressive treatment looks to have beaten the cancer, and Achatz’s sense of taste was saved. So now he’s back in the kitchen, creating some of the most wildly creative dishes in the country. Alinea, the Latin word for that funny little symbol (¶) indicating the need for a new paragraph—or a new train of thought—is at the forefront of the molecular gastronomy movement, which re-imagines familiar foods in stunningly innovative ways. Behind the restaurant’s purposefully hidden entrance and up a floating glass-and-metal staircase, you’ll be treated to breathtaking creations such as the Black Truffle Explosion, featuring truffle-topped ravioli filled with truffle broth which “explodes” in your mouth. Another dish is duck served with mango and yogurt on a pillow of juniper air. The complex meals often require equally complicated instructions from the patient waitstaff, but trust us—you won’t complain.
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