Health Department's Online List Exposes Alinea

According to the report on Alinea is less than stellar on its food safety

Beginning this November the City of Chicago made it easy for residents to check in on the health and safety record of their favorite restaurants with a robust and detailed web site.

At the end of November a surprising entry showed up on the city's newly launched site: the Michelin-starred Alinea restaurant failed a November 30 inspection.(Full disclosure, their four violations were immediately corrected.)

Alinea is often referred to as the best restaurant in America, and its chef, Grant Achatz, draws rock star acclaim for his culinary inventiveness.

But it's not immune to heatlh department inspections. According to the report on, Alinea was less than stellar on its food safety to close the month of November. No one from Alinea was available for comment by press time.

Among the findings listed on the November 30 report (head here and search for Alinea to see the report.)

  • Inspectors observed black mold growing on interior surfaces of the ice machine.
  • Inspectors observed employees failing to properly wash hands.
  • Inspectors observed hazardous food storage of purple cabbage and potato soup.

All of the items in the November 30 report were corrected immediately, according to Public Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair.

"These violations happen often," he said. "What's important is how quickly they are corrected."

Spokeswoman Efrat Dallal Stein said the most common infraction is improper food temperatures.

Alinea is not the only restaurant to turn in a poor performance, there are various degrees of infraction.

That's the benefit of the new city website, however. In the past, restaurants who failed inspection were listed on a pass/fail basis. The new web site allows users to dive into information and find out exactly what violations face the restaurant.

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