If you are up for a culinary adventure, Alinea is surely one of the most exciting restaurants in the country. Thirty-three-year-old chef Grant Achatz, previously of the French Laundry, combines haute cuisine, science and art in set menus that change frequently and involve either twelve courses ($135) or twenty-four ($195). The ingredients may be unfamiliar, the flavor combinations unconventional—butterscotch and bacon, quince and foie gras, soy and chocolate—but the result is simply delicious and wholly unforgettable. And the presentations are so exquisite, they’re almost too pretty to eat. Such thought and sheer ingenuity go into making each course a treat for all the senses: At a recent meal, a scallop on a bed of custard was served in a bowl surrounded by another bowl containing long strips of lemon peel and purple hyacinths. The waiter placed the dish before me, then poured a stream of hot water on the lemon peels, releasing a fragrant vapor of citrus and sweet flowers that I inhaled before savoring the contrasting textures of the scallop, seared to a crisp, and the creamy custard. Other...
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