Best Restaurants: The alinea, or paragraph mark, signals the start of a new idea. The restaurant Alinea aims at nothing short of revolutionizing dinner. Chef Grant Achatz, who trained with the likes of Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, merges art and science, drawing foodies worldwide. He often gets lumped in with molecular gastronomists, but he's after something deeper with his wow-producing plates (they change constantly on the 20-course menu), but imagine the kind of madness it takes to devise a peeled grape, coated in some sort of peanut casing and served on the stem as an homage to PB & J. The all-small courses may arrive on pillows inflated with lavender air, mini pedestals or wire hangers; each piece of service wear is custom-designed by Martin Kastner of the local firm Crucial Detail. It's dinner as theater, best appreciated by open minds and deep pockets.
New American: Prepare for sensory overload when you reserve a dinner at this hotspot — hailed as one of the best restaurants in the nation. Celebrated chef Grant Achatz, a former apprentice to Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame), steers willing diners through meals comprised of 12 or 24 tastes of culinary nirvana. Many "courses," each consisting of a single, flavorful bite, are presented on serviceware tailored to a particular dish; in-the-know servers instruct you on how to consume each one. Usual textures, temperatures, and tastes of familiar ingredients are redefined and synthesized in dishes like peach with smoked paprika and carrot, or trout roe with cucumber and coconut. Unexpected platings and presentations are part of the sheer delight of eating in this sleek, minimalist space. A sommelier can suggest the perfect pairings for your gustatory explorations. Twelve-course tasting menu, $135; 24-course tour menu, $195.