best thing i ate last week (feb. 15-21): beef, chimichurri, lettuce cores at Alinea Miami pop-up

There is something surreal about any dinner at Alinea, a meal which may feature edible helium balloons, bottomless plates, and desserts served right on the table. There is something even more surreal about having such a dinner in Miami.

But the surreal has become real. While their Chicago home, which opened in 2005, gets a facelift, the Alinea team has been doing a traveling road show: first a couple weeks in Madrid, and starting a few weeks ago, a run here in Miami at the Faena Hotel.

(You can see all my pictures in this Alinea in Miami flickr set).

I was there on February 18, the day after the opening, and overall, was very impressed by how well they played for a road game. The menu included both some "greatest hits" from the Alinea oeuvre – hot potato cold potato, black truffle explosion, the bacon trapeze – as well as a few items that took inspiration from the local flavors.

From this latter category came my favorite dish of the evening, and of the week. To save a bit of the mystery of the dinner, I won't tell how the steak was cooked, other than to say that sometimes things are hidden in plain view. But I will say that the tranche of crimson-hued wagyu beef was paired with a bright tangy green emulsion inspired by Argentinian chimichurri, complemented by my favorite item on the plate: spears of crunchy, tart pickled lettuce cores, a really effective use of an unheralded and unexpected ingredient.

Although the Alinea Miami dinners have been reported as sold out for several weeks, when I checked this morning a few open spots were showing up in their ticketing system for this weekend and next. If you're intrigued, you may want to jump on those quickly.


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