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I got takeout from a Michelin-star restaurant for $86, and it took me 30 minutes to prepare the entire meal

Insider
Insider
 2022-01-20
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I ordered beef Wellington from the three-Michelin-star restaurant Alinea.
  • I spent $86 ordering takeout from Alinea, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Chicago.
  • I had to prepare and heat up the components myself, but the instructions were clear.
  • The restaurant only offered beef Wellington to-go that night, and it was absolutely delicious.
I ordered the beef Wellington and a hot toddy as takeout from Alinea.
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I hoped this cozy meal would warm me up.

I first learned of Alinea — a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Chicago — after watching season two of Netflix's "Chef's Table," a documentary series that highlights famous chefs from around the world.

I was awestruck by how imaginative, playful, and inventive the eatery's food is — from edible balloons to dessert "painted" on the actual table .

The tasting menus at Alinea generally range from 17 to 19 courses and start at around $295 per person, so when the restaurant started offering takeout, I jumped on the opportunity.

Alinea only had one takeout option the weekend I ordered, beef Wellington with a roll, Robuchon-style mashed potatoes (named after the Michelin-star chef Joël Robuchon), and lemon-honey glazed carrots, plus a chocolate pot de crème for dessert. I also ordered a hot toddy to drink.

The meal would require reheating at home, and in total, it came out to $86.76, including tax and gratuity.

Although that's pricey for takeout, it's fairly inexpensive compared to the actual cost of dining at Alinea in person.

Read on to find out what ordering takeout from a Michelin-star restaurant was like, plus how the meal tasted.

Alinea's pickup process was seamless and efficient.
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I picked up my order around 6 p.m.

I arrived a few minutes before my 6 p.m. pickup time and was immediately checked in by a staff member outside.

Moments later, I received my order and walked back home.

I immediately unpacked the meal.
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This meal took over 30 minutes to fully come together.

Even though I read the description of the meal online, the number of components — from the main items to the accouterments — surprised me.

I was hungry, so I was a little worried about how long it would take to prepare .

The order also came with well-written, step-by-step heating instructions, and unfortunately, due to the baking time, I would have to wait over 30 minutes to eat the beef Wellington.

Per the instructions, I started making the beef Wellington first.
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I first preheated my oven.

Unlike a traditional beef Wellington, which often includes tenderloin , Alinea's version uses short ribs.

I turned my oven on and waited for it to heat.

I then prepared the hot toddy, which was delicious and unique.
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I simply heated the hot toddy and transferred it to a mug.

Unlike a traditional hot toddy, which contains whiskey and lemon juice, Alinea's has Caribbean rum and mango brandy infused with masala chai, mango, ginger, pomegranate, and citrus.

I heated the hot toddy on the stove and poured it into a mug.

The toddy was the perfect antidote to the cold Chicago evening. The mango and citrus flavors balanced the sweetness from the alcohol, while the ginger and masala chai provided an additional layer of warmth and depth.

My oven finished preheating a few minutes later, so I put the Wellington inside.
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I heated the beef Wellington on a lined baking sheet.

The beef Wellington came in an ovenproof container, but I put it on a baking sheet so it would be easier to remove from the appliance when hot.

After placing it in the oven, I set a timer for 30 minutes and finished the rest of my toddy.

I waited 15 minutes before preparing the other side dishes , so they would be hot and ready when the Wellington came out of the oven.

Next, I began preparing the side dishes, starting with the carrots.
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I made sure all of the carrots were coated with the glaze.

Per the instructions, I heated the honey-and-lemon glaze in a skillet, and once it was warm, I added the carrots and made sure they were all evenly coated with it.

I then turned the heat to low and tried one of the carrots, which was crunchy and sticky.

The lemon perfectly counteracted the natural sweetness of the carrots and honey.

Next, I prepared the peppercorn sauce.
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I simply heated the peppercorn sauce on the stove.

On a low flame, I warmed Alinea's peppercorn sauce, stirring occasionally. The air slowly perfumed with pepper.

While the sauce warmed, I also heated the 50-50 mashed potatoes.
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These mashed potatoes have a two-to-one ratio of potato to butter.

On a medium flame, I heated the 50-50 mashed potatoes , stirring occasionally.

These famous potatoes got their name because of the two-to-one ratio of potato to butter. I could even see remnants of the butter in the pan.

My timer went off, so I took the Wellington out of the oven.
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The beef Wellington looked amazing.

The beef Wellington was golden brown and hot in the center.

With all of the components heated and ready, I plated the meal, starting with the carrots.
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I topped the carrots with the onion crumble.

Unleashing my inner food stylist, I plated the carrots and topped them with the onion crumble that came with the dish.

I then plated the beef Wellington, peppercorn sauce, mashed potatoes, and crème fraîche.
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I tried to plate the beef Wellington as nicely as possible.

Plating was much harder than I thought — it's definitely a skill that requires time and creativity to master.

I carefully arranged the beef, peppercorn sauce, mashed potatoes , and crème fraîche on a white plate.

The final meal looked delicious, and I couldn't wait to dig in.
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The whole meal was fantastic.

The beef Wellington was perfectly cooked — pink in the center and brown on the outside — with a crispy pastry crust that nicely complemented the soft Duxelles (an herby, finely chopped mix of mushrooms) and greens that enveloped the short rib.

The horseradish crème fraîche was a delightful palate cleanser after eating the umami-rich sauce and beef Wellington.

Tasting both incredibly light, yet rich, the glorious mashed potatoes felt like drinking cream and butter.

I used the roll as a vessel to soak up any remaining bits of sauce and potatoes that clung to the plate.

After taking some time to digest, I quickly prepared the dessert.
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The dessert was easy to put together.

The dessert was a dark-chocolate pot de crème with hazelnut crumble. It didn't require any other prep than sprinkling the nutty topping over the main container.

The mascarpone on top of the pot de crème wasn't too sweet and rounded out the richness of the dark chocolate. The hazelnut crumble also added a nice textural component.

I wish the dessert was topped with a bit of sea salt, as the dish was a little sweet and needed some balance, even with the mascarpone.

Still, I loved this dessert .

This meal was both comforting and deliciously elaborate.
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This dish from Alinea was worth the extra effort.

Overall, this meal was a masterclass in execution .

It was a perfectly balanced, beautiful exploration of tastes with both sweet and savory notes, as well an assortment of textures, from crunchy and crispy to velvety and silky.

I wished I had fewer dishes to clean up at the end of the night, but it was worth the minimal effort I went through.

Although there were no theatrical components to this meal, it emotionally resonated with me and offered some much-needed joy and comfort.

Read the original article on Insider

Comments / 38

Margaret Padgett
01-23

The food looked good to me. You made me hungry describing everything . It's nice to have a terrific meal like that every now and then.

Reply(3)
11
Eva Miletty
01-25

$86 in these days for a meal. no thanks. plus u have to cook it! just go to the supermarket and buy a recipe book!

Reply(1)
10
Pop Roxx
01-25

this is such a good way to great yourself to gourmet food! I think I'll try this with my husband the next time the kids stay at grandma's house.

Reply(1)
4

Comments / 0