Baby Allowed Inside Fanciest Restaurant In Chicago, Cries

Alinea in Chicago is an expensive molecular gastronomy restaurant. It is so exclusive and fancy that most adults probably imagine that they aren’t allowed inside. Apparently the question of “can I bring my infant?” has never come up…until this weekend.

Here are a few things to keep in mind: reservations at Alinea have to be made far ahead of time, usually a few months. You pay for a ticket to a multi-course seating, and must pay in advance. A couple can expect to pay at least $400 for their meal on an average night, which is not a typo. Tickets are transferable, but not refundable. If the parents just didn’t show, they would lose not just their reservation, but the money that they paid in advance.

That’s the background information: here’s what happened, according to owner/head chef Grant Achatz.

Yes, the 8-month-old baby started to cry, but Achatz felt conflicted about asking the party to leave. Should he have? The reaction on Twitter was mostly wonder that someone would even try. To foodies, hearing that someone took a baby to Alinea is like telling them that you took a baby to a metal concert or white-water rafting. It just doesn’t make sense.

One local food blogger says that the couple’s sitter canceled at the last minute. That’s a likely explanation, but still controversial.

We checked with our new Washington, D.C.-based editor Kate Cox, mother of Consumerist’s current staff baby. “Nice restaurants are an excellent excuse to let friends make good on all those babysitting offers,” she observes. When the restaurant is not only nice but also non-refundable, line up a few layers of backup babysitters, too.

A Baby Walks Into Alinea… [Eater]

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  1. SingleMaltGeek says:

    I think I’d pass on even such a hard-to-get reservation as Alinea if the babysitter cancelled. There’s always next year. This is not the kind of meal where you can step outside for 5 or 10 minutes to calm the baby down. Your foam will be a puddle of liquid, or the flash-frozen part will have melted.

    • MarthaGaill says:

      I wouldn’t skip out if the tickets are non-refundable. I’d try my damnedest to get a baby sitter either through friends or a service. Or I’d try to sell the tickets. $400 is a lot of money.

      On second thought, I probably would never spend $400 on a dinner anyway.

  2. CzarChasm says:

    If I spent $400 on a single meal and there was a crying baby there all night, I would be a bit less than pleased.

  3. PhillyDom says:

    The restaurant is partly at fault here. Making the meals non-refundable invites something like this. People aren’t going to throw away $800 just because the sitter flaked out. They’re going to use those reservations come hell or high water.

    If the restaurant is that popular, it should have no problem filling a couple of empty seats on short notice. It could even accept standby reservations.