Tasting Menus Are Gradually Demanding Less Of Your Life

Grant Achatz is many things: an imaginative chef, a cocktail visionary and now (unexpectedly) a time saver.

His acclaimed Chicago dining destination, Alinea, named "Outstanding Restaurant" by the esteemed James Beard Foundation earlier this year, recently reopened after a five-month renovation. Complete with its newly classic look, the restaurant also comes with a fresh perspective on time management, according to a glowing four-star review in the Chicago Tribune.

With its once-lengthy tasting menu pared down to around a dozen or so dishes, Trib critic Phil Vettel reports that meals at the remodeled Alinea now clock in at around three and a half hours, sometimes even less — that's "short, compared with Alinea 1.0," Vettel notes.

The reason? Well, the chef himself hints at a cultural shift in today's dining public, bluntly stating in the review's opening sentence: "Do any of us want to have a five-hour meal anymore?"

Achatz isn't the only world-famous chef to recently scale back on his marathon-like tasting menu. Earlier this year, New York chef Daniel Humm cut his extravagant four-hour, 25-course routine at Eleven Madison Park down to around 14 dishes. "I think we're at a point where eating 25 courses is not necessary," Humm told the New York Times. "That's not what we want anymore, as diners. It's too much."