Vespertine + Alinea
After being a bit disappointed at Vespertine's first few tries at to-go dining during the pandemic, their collab menu with Alinea got my attention. It's exsquistely presented, pre-plated and everything. Pretty nuts. And the menu is actually online as it's so many parts/instructions.
The first two items are cold. The pear shot with celery leaf is refreshing and actually quite amazing, while the oyster creme is a bit too much cream, not so much oyster.
Pumpkin soup with a perfectly cooked bit of duck, garnished with salted nuts, is not a combo I would have done. Both on their own are tasty, the former very rich and creamy, the latter a high quality piece of poultry I would happy make an entire meal out of if I could! But together, not quite as sure what to make of it?
Halibut with shellfish, shellfish custard, and hyancith vapor was reasonably substantial and actually pretty good, despite the cooked mussels and clams literally sitting atop the halibut and custard. And the hyancith flowers in the box did indeed leave a pleasing scent of fresh flowers, especially after adding hot water to the bowl surrounding the actual dish.
Shortrib always strikes me as a bit of a low-end cut for such a fancy meal, and the trend continues here. This too was reasonably filling, with root veggies. Might have been the least-impressive, well, second-least-impressive.
Idiazabal was like a cheesy chip, quite good, but in the context of take-out didn't work so well. Neither did the bacon with butterscotch, apple, and thyme-- perhaps my least-favorite. Might have been delicious if crispy and fresh, but that doesn't happen with take-out.
Dessert was chocolate, avocado creme, lime, and licorice flavors. Quite elegant but two strikes against it (well, one was self-inflicted). One, I was a klutz and dropped it, ruining the presentation. ;_; Two, again, this felt like it needed to be done dine-in; the delicacy didn't translate to home?
In the end, a worthy meal considering the very affordable price, at least when compared to what dine-in at Vespertine or Alinea costs. But again, both restaurants are massively about presentation, and as hard as they try to bring it home, you definitely lose much of the experience, to the degree that I almost wouldn't call it the same thing. Clearly this needs to be fixed by actually going to both Alinea and to Vespertine sometime when the pandemic is over and they've both reopened...