Throughout his harrowing battle with tongue cancer, chef Grant Achatz never abandoned his kitchen. In fact, he showed up every day. As he continues to rely on his sous chefs to deliver what he only can imagine, smell and articulate—a lack of taste is a remaining casualty—few would argue his sleek, groundbreaking restaurant has suffered.
The restaurant’s multi-course molecular offerings remain cunningly (and sometimes whimsically) crafted, elegantly presented, and joyfully consumed in a setting that is so appealing and special occasion worthy, diners have been known, literally, to be brought to tears.
Eating here is a commitment. Though it is expensive, and jackets are required for gentlemen, it is not snobby or pretentious. In fact, you can have a very good time. Just be prepared to spend a chunk of time and quite a few dollars.
Achatz changes his dishes with the seasons. His ideas sometimes come to mind late at night and mere visions then become sketches, R & D projects and finally, magical dishes. Many of them come with verbal eating instructions like: “Suck through tube.” It’s hard to forget his take on peanut butter and jelly: a single peeled grape dipped in peanut purée, then wrapped in brioche.
Chemistry may not alter this dish, but certainly it reinterprets the fundamentals of cooking. A bowl of duck prepared three ways and topped with mango and yogurt arrives on a pillow pumped with the scent of fresh lavender. The weight of the plate releases the lavender aroma, enhancing the dish.
Pumpkin pie cheesecake coated in brown sugar gelée hangs upside down from a long cinnamon stick that is speared with prongs. Your senses are turned upside down as well, as the scent of torched cinnamon intoxicates.
And so it goes, each dish presented with non-traditional tools and techniques, containing an unorthodox element. A word to the wise: unless you have an education in wine, leave the decision making to the learned wine stewards; this is wine pairing at its most challenging.