Big local restaurant news was the opening of Chef Grant Achatz's Alinea. It brought Chicago to the forefront of the next wave of dining. The cuisine has become known for being inventive and unusual, each of the many courses being sculptural as well as edible. Over 25 serving "concepts" were commissioned specifically for Alinea, and are, frankly, like nothing else out there.
The design studio behind the pieces is Crucial Detail. Originally trained as a blacksmith and jewelry designer, Martin Kastner moved the studio to Chicago in 2005 to oversee several aspects of design (graphic, web, and service ware) for Alinea. Though they are not exactly "homey", if you'd like to recreate this type of food drama with your cuisine some pieces are being made available for purchase. For more information, check the Crucial Detail site.