Much has been made of chef Grant Achatz’s pivot to take out at Alinea. But it seems the whole team at the Chicago restaurant is comfortable with the pickup/takeout format, and is now flexing its considerable culinary muscles with a new offering: bento boxes.
When Alinea first pivoted to takeout at the beginning of the pandemic, chef Grant Achatz had to restrain his creativity and steer clear of the 16-course tasting menu he wanted to offer his customers. Instead, he listened to his business partner Nick Kokonas’ advice and went with simple comfort food such beef Wellington.
The takeout was a huge success and Alinea has become a point of reference for other fine-dining restaurants looking to navigate the choppy waters of the coronavirus pandemic.
As the team at Alinea grew familiar with a whole new format of serving food, the fare began to become ever more daring and experimental, as one might expect from a virtuoso chef like Achatz.
Alinea is currently offering bento boxes, showing the team’s skill in a perfectly balanced, high-end takeout offering that lives up to the restaurant’s reputation for excellence. The selection includes nigiri, seasonal maki, prawn tempura with togarashi-miso sauce, binchotan grilled diver scallop with a spicy white sesame sauce, sashimi salad with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette, yuzu-infused nashi pear and cantaloupe panna cotta with sudachi and almonds.
Judging from Achatz’s social media posts, he has really enjoyed getting to grips with the Japanese sushi format, combining fine raw ingredients and with the chef's trademark creative flair. He is also prepared to deviate from the prescribed tradition and experiment with new, multi-sensory, global flavours.
Alinea's bento boxes are available for takeout on Tock.