Back straight. Elbows off the table. Chew slowly.
Tired of stuffy dining rooms and strict etiquette?
We’ve all experienced it: boring people, boring atmosphere, and the food– anything but stimulating.
However, the three businesses I will be reviewing today are anything but conventional. Stunningly original and endlessly creative, these businesses invite you to open your mind, lose your inhibitions, and excite your palate in artistic ways.
Alinea, a restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, offers inventive dishes that are true works of art. Creating inspired dishes using such ingredients as hibiscus, thai banana, and daikon, Alinea is at the forefront of culinary innovation.
Grant Achatz is the head chef at Alinea and many of his dishes are created using molecular gastronomy (changing the food at the molecular level).
But how does he incorporate art into his cuisine?
Visually, the dishes are astonishing. Aesthetics and the organization of all elements of the meal are carefully planned out and executed.
In the embedded video, pay attention to the care Achatz takes when making the dessert.
The frozen chocolate mousse, once pulverized into a mass of light brown rubble, has the danger of looking messy. However, Achatz frames the mousse with a sprinkling of sweet cream dots and milk chocolate squares. A simple smear of blueberry sauce, expertly placed brown sugar crème brule, and blueberries poached in red wine help complete dessert. Once finished, the meal looks a great deal like abstract art.
Dessert @ Alinea in Chicago, Illinois
Credit: yellow truffle @ lthforum.com
Kandinsky’s Unbroken Line
Eating the dessert becomes a shared experience between the diners, and everyone can luxuriate in the aesthetic beauty of the dish. Visit www.alinea-restaurant.com for a detailed look at the menu, the restaurant, press, and more.
The next restaurant that I will be discussing focuses more on combining food and literature. Alice of Magic World, an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant based in Tokyo, Japan, combines dining with literature so it seems you may have slipped into a magical unreality. The restaurant uses elements from the novel by Lewis Carrol as inspiration for the décor and the menu. A heart-shaped table, booths hidden in a maze garden, playing card tables and chandeliers, and illustrations of Alice in her marvelous misadventures create a wonderfully psychedelic experience.
Maze Garden Booths @ Alice of Magic World in Tokyo, Japan
Credit: Fantastic Designs
While absorbing the mind-bending atmosphere, devour some of the Alice-inspired dishes. For example, try the Cheshire cat tail pizza, if you feel so inclined. Search through pictures of the restaurant, as well as pictures of other Fantastic Design projects, at www.f-fantastic.com.
Artiste, a company based in Los Olivos, California, produces lovely blends of wine from its very own sun drenched vineyards. Each blend, however, is created with inspiration from the Impressionist paintings that grace the label. For example, Cupid Takes Aim, a Bordeaux-style blend inspired by a painting by James-Paul Brown, is one wine out of virtually hundreds of which to choose.
Another fascinating detail- many of the bottles are sealed with a traditional coloured wax, making the experience all the more unique. Browse the website at www.artiste.com.