Alinea – Chicago, USA

What makes it special: The key ingredient infused into every Alinea meal isn’t a mountain of caviar, or a fat puck of foie gras. Since Alinea’s debut in 2005, chef and owner Grant Achatz has built a reputation for designing dishes spiked with emotion; eliciting playful nostalgia from his diners via sophisticated riffs off a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or pheasant served with smouldering oak leaves he calls Aromas of Fall.

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Squid ink, chilli and black garlic

What’s on the menu: Alinea has kept itself at the forefront of modern creativity via edible vanilla beans, langoustine yuba, crystal-clear pumpkin pie and what has become Alinea’s most famous dish: an edible, helium-filled, floating balloon designed by former executive chef Mike Bagale.

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On the pass: Grant Achatz

Best seat in the house: To commemorate Alinea’s 10th birthday, Achatz shuttered his wildly successful restaurant for four months, giving the place a total overhaul.

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Clear Pumpkin Pie

When Alinea reopened in June 2017, the temple of haute cuisine emerged with a clean and bright look, in addition to a new dining experience: a glassed-in kitchen table. With room for four to six diners, The KT (The Kitchen Table) is where guests embark on a lengthy bespoke menu, often with more than 22 courses with interaction with chefs encouraged.

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