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What does food look like at a Michelin 3-star restaurant?

This is what it looks like at Alinea in Chicago.

EVER WONDER WHAT it must take to get three Michelin stars?

While we have our own culinary stars in Ireland, only one restaurant here (Patrick Guilbaud’s in Dublin) currently has two stars from the global ranking organisation.

The difficulty of reaching the dizzying heights of three Michelin stars is such that fewer 100 restaurants around the world currently hold the holy trinity.

For that reason, we might have to settle for these astonishing photographs of the food at the three-starred Alinea restaurant in Chicago. It was number 7 on Restaurant Magazine’s Best World Restaurants list last world and you have to book two months in advance to get a seat at the table there. Diners are required to purchase a ticket for their seat that can cost up to $285 per person, depending on the day of the week. And that’s without including beverages.

What makes the experience of Alinea so unique is the avant-garde dish presentations and unexpected combination of flavors dreamt up by molecular gastronomy chefs Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. Each of their 18 tasting menu courses offers a new way to eat that appeals to your taste, sight, touch, and smell.

Adam Goldberg, a food lover who takes incredible pictures of his meals for his blog A Life Worth Eating, was lucky enough to dine twice at this world-renowned restaurant. He shared pictures of his second round at Alinea with us.

Achatz has once again changed his menu since Goldberg’s 2011 meal, but a few of the courses — including the Hot Potato and Steelhead Roe — are still there.

What does food look like at a Michelin 3-star restaurant?
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  • Warm Dijon mustard, goden trout roe, grapefruit

  • Deep-fried tofu skin, shrimp, sesame seeds, miso paste

  • Octopus purée, red wine gelée, coriander, aubergine foam

  • Oyster leaf, buttery scallop, beer foam, razor clam

  • Sprouting pea leaves growing from a sweet pea soup

  • Freeze-dried peas in a spring pea meringue

  • Frozen pea purée, green apple sorbet, frozen Greek yoghurt

  • Deep-fried yellowtail, banana, ginger, vanilla bean

  • Foraged mushrooms, pickled ramps, sumac (a tart spice)

  • Hot potato, slice of black truffle, cold potato soup

  • Two orange flags placed on the table - you'll find out why later...

  • Then a plate of ingredients was placed in front of each diner...

  • Those flags? Pasta for a DIY ravioli course!

  • Constructing the ravioli

  • Raviolo filled with black truffle stock, Parmesan, lettuce, black truffle slice

  • A 300-year-old Escoffier recipe of lamb, pastry, potato

  • Venison, cherry and cocoa nib under eucalyptus leaves

  • Palate cleanser made of liquid nitrogen-frozen yuzu

  • Sweet potato, pecans, cayenne candyfloss, bourbon gelée

  • Glass tube of lemongrass, lime, cucumber, dragon fruit

  • Chef Achatz assembled dessert on a rubber table cloth

  • Blueberries, honey, caramel, peanut nougat, liquid nitrogen frozen mousse

  • The completed dessert masterpiece

All images Adam Goldberg/A Life Worth Eating

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