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    Post #1 - January 1st, 2017, 11:56 am
    Post #1 - January 1st, 2017, 11:56 am Post #1 - January 1st, 2017, 11:56 am
    Smyth is a new entry into the tasting menu/fine dining field in Chicago. Located at the west end of the west Randolph Street corridor, there is a casual bar/ restaurant on the first floor (The Loyalist) and the fine dining restaurant (Smyth) on the second floor. The proprietors are the husband and wife team of John and Karen Shields. Both worked at Charlie Trotters, among other places, left to open a restaurant in Virginia, and have now returned to Chicago.

    They offer either an eight course or twelve course tasting menu. The 8 course is $135, and the 12 course is $195. These, however, are the prices of pre-purchased tickets, so taxes and tip are included. Wine pairings are available and are purchased, in advance, with the tickets.

    My wife and I did the 8 course dinner. My apologies for those hoping for a photographed, course by course, narration, as that's just not my thing. All I can do is report that the food was, for us, fabulous. We ate and loved our meal earlier this year at Oriole, and this was at least as good. What stood out was the fact that the dishes had many components, but the flavor of the lead ingredient, be it an oyster or beef, always was the lead actor; the other flavors just added some spice.

    A couple of highlights: Dungeness crab with fois gras. Creamy, sweet and rich. Along with the beef dish, they bring two objects that look like normal rolls, but they are deep fried brioche balls, if I recall correctly. They come with a bit of butter, but even better, a bowl of beef dripping to dunk your deep fried dough in. Rich, decadent, and you won't leave a morsel uneaten. A lamb dish featured a small piece of lamb belly that was made crispy by the fire it hangs next to. All in all, of the 8.5 courses, 7.5 were home runs and one dessert was merely very good.

    The service was excellent and the meal well paced. About 2 hours for 8 courses. The room itself is sleek and modern; not casual, but not stuffy formal.

    A great evening I highly recommend.

    Smyth & The Loyalist
    177 North Ada Street, Chicago, IL 60607
    Smyth: (773) 913-3773
    The Loyalist: (773) 913-3774
  • Post #2 - September 26th, 2017, 7:44 pm
    Post #2 - September 26th, 2017, 7:44 pm Post #2 - September 26th, 2017, 7:44 pm
    We’ve eaten at many of the requisite high-dollar, fancy joints around town (and in and out of this country) over the years and have been fortunate to enjoy some astonishing meals. We’ve also had the privilege of some remarkable service. But the one of the things that has largely eluded us has been a superb food experience where we’ve been completely relaxed and comfortable. We have been waited on hand and foot, our every need has been anticipated—even when we didn’t know it existed—and we’ve been made to feel important at a number of places. But generally, at the end of the meal, we’ve found that as remarkable as service may have been, it still felt a little (or a lot) formal.

    Which leads me to our dinner last week at Smyth. Food: among the best we’ve had anywhere in Chicago. On a par with Alinea, Grace, Oriole…you name it. But the service, the vibe, was so remarkable that I am totally and completely baffled: why is there only one post on this thread? Where have you all been eating? Unless everyone is eating there and no one wants to share the discovery. Oriole, to pick another place operating at this level, was very relaxed. But Smyth is that order of magnitude again for us.

    We just seemed to walk in and pick up conversations with old friends...friends we hadn’t seen for a while. Sure, they were serving us, but it was so amazingly comfortable. So extraordinarily easy that I cannot think of a place we’ve eaten where the food was on this level and the relaxation quotient this high. And at the same time, the attention to detail was exceptional. Example: midway through the meal, one of the servers--not our primary server--said that she had noticed I was left-handed. Would I prefer that she place the silver on that side to make it easier for me?

    I don’t know where to start so I won’t bother except to say that, inevitable minor glitches notwithstanding, this ranks among our best meals. (Now, in fairness, maybe you don’t like relaxed. Or a place that is this relaxed. I find that hard to comprehend because, for us at least, it added to the enjoyment of the evening enormously. It's hard to describe but somehow it freed me up from whatever I normally do or think and made it possible to just completely enjoy every moment. But to each his or her own.)

    I won’t belabor the descriptions of the course-by-course tasting (ostensibly 12 courses but more like 15, I think, for us). I will note that it was probably a little too much food. The crab/foie course was not large but impossibly rich. Then there was deep-fried (in beef fat) brioche doughnut accompanying the amazing beef tongue course. I could go on. I won’t. All I’ll say is that if you don’t hustle on down to Smyth, you’re depriving yourself of an experience that comes along very infrequently. And you’d be making a huge mistake.

    (One final note: I should point out that, in addition to the 8- and 12-course tastings, Smyth now also offers a 5-course tasting. No more excuses!)

    Image
    Dining Room

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    Black Walnut

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    Sea lettuce (aka purslane) Cookie

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    Salted Radish and Watermelon, Oyster, And Seaweed

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    Sungold Tomatoes With Cosmos And Preserves

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    Shima Aji (mackerel) barbecued with Spring Onion, Nasturtium and Spruce

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    Dungeness Crab & Foie Gras With Scrambled Kani Miso

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    Butternut Squash and Grilled Plants With Pumpkin Seeds

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    Squab Liver Mousse

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    Roasted Squab With Sorrel, Roses and Huitlacoche

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    Brioche Doughnut With Aged Beef Au Jus

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    Beef Tongue With Bone Marrow, Farro Koji And Cow's Milk

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    the above…slightly, uh, deconstructed

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    Milk Chocolate, Huckleberry, And Preserved Shiitake Mushroom

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    Egg Yolk Soaked In Salted Licorice With Frozen Yogurt Meringue

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    Butternut Squash in Canteloupe, Lavender & Toasted Farro

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    Tomato Sorbet With Raspberry And Caramel

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    Sourdough Danish

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    Black Carrot

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    Birthday Cake


    177 N. Ada Street
    Chicago, IL 60607
    http://www.smythandtheloyalist.com
    (773) 913-3774
    Last edited by Gypsy Boy on September 27th, 2017, 6:46 am, edited 5 times in total.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #3 - September 26th, 2017, 8:12 pm
    Post #3 - September 26th, 2017, 8:12 pm Post #3 - September 26th, 2017, 8:12 pm
    Thank you for a great review. SMYTH has not been on my radar. Now it goes to top of my list
  • Post #4 - September 27th, 2017, 8:04 am
    Post #4 - September 27th, 2017, 8:04 am Post #4 - September 27th, 2017, 8:04 am
    Beautiful pictures!

    Thank you.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #5 - September 27th, 2017, 10:49 am
    Post #5 - September 27th, 2017, 10:49 am Post #5 - September 27th, 2017, 10:49 am
    Gypsy Boy wrote:
    I won’t belabor the descriptions of the course-by-course tasting (ostensibly 12 courses but more like 15, I think, for us). I will note that it was probably a little too much food. The crab/foie course was not large but impossibly rich. Then there was deep-fried (in beef fat) brioche doughnut accompanying the amazing beef tongue course. I could go on. I won’t. All I’ll say is that if you don’t hustle on down to Smyth, you’re depriving yourself of an experience that comes along very infrequently. And you’d be making a huge mistake.


    Excellent review! This is definitely either #1 or #2 (with Elske) as 'next up' on my list of restaurants to try.

    Quick question--since you said the 12 course menu may have been a tad too much, if you had to do it again, would you opt for the 8 course instead?
  • Post #6 - September 27th, 2017, 4:26 pm
    Post #6 - September 27th, 2017, 4:26 pm Post #6 - September 27th, 2017, 4:26 pm
    Behavioral wrote:Quick question--since you said the 12 course menu may have been a tad too much, if you had to do it again, would you opt for the 8 course instead?


    Boy, I wish I had an answer. In fact, I've already asked myself the same question (with our next visit already in mind). I honestly don't know what to say. I have discussed it with the Lovely Dining Companion (who treated me to this birthday dinner) and although she agrees it is an awful lot of food and says that she would almost certainly go for the 8-course next time, she also pointed out that for a first visit, you should splurge. Go whole hog, as it were. I think she has a good point. It's a tough call, frankly, and I don't know what I'll do when we return.

    Maybe, since you are forearmed with knowledge, if you purposely overeat for a week to stretch your stomach... :lol:

    Whatever you decide, we know you'll have wonderful experience. Have fun!
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #7 - October 20th, 2017, 3:59 pm
    Post #7 - October 20th, 2017, 3:59 pm Post #7 - October 20th, 2017, 3:59 pm
    Smyth awarded second Michelin star in 2017:

    viewtopic.php?p=525409#p525409
  • Post #8 - May 19th, 2018, 10:57 am
    Post #8 - May 19th, 2018, 10:57 am Post #8 - May 19th, 2018, 10:57 am
    Smyth has a new and somewhat unusual option. For $70 you can reserve a spot in the lounge where they serve you appetizers and then desserts. My wife and I tried this recently and enjoyed it. Smyth has a very small waiting area when you enter. They put two cushy chairs on either side of a small, low table, and that's where we had our "meal." It's very informal and kind of like sitting around in your living room and snacking.

    The meal consisted of three savory bites (served consecutively, not at once), which were amuse bouche or slightly larger in size. This was followed by four dessert courses, one of which has three parts, so there was more dessert than savory. With the exception of one item (chocolate covered black shallots) we absolutely loved everything. I had the alcohol pairing, my wife just had one cocktail.

    We were very full by the end because all of the items were super rich. Bigger appetites might not be suited to this meal, however. Although the restaurant was about 2/3 full on a Thursday night, we were the only ones trying this option.
  • Post #9 - May 19th, 2018, 5:34 pm
    Post #9 - May 19th, 2018, 5:34 pm Post #9 - May 19th, 2018, 5:34 pm
    Seems to me that $95 for five traditional courses represents a better deal...
  • Post #10 - May 20th, 2018, 9:03 am
    Post #10 - May 20th, 2018, 9:03 am Post #10 - May 20th, 2018, 9:03 am
    5 courses for $90 probably is a better deal for some people. It's probably a lower per ounce cost. For my wife and I, however, the ability to taste 7 different items was a treat. Quantity is not a big deal as we were plenty full by the end (but we're lighter eaters than many).
  • Post #11 - July 9th, 2018, 5:50 pm
    Post #11 - July 9th, 2018, 5:50 pm Post #11 - July 9th, 2018, 5:50 pm
    We just had a lovely meal (8-course which is really 9 to 10 course) for a Birthday Celebration....the restaurant had a nice Birthday card signed by most of the staff!
    The food has wonderful flavor, but falls into the "Tweezer Food" realm. Portions are tiny, but we did not leave hungry (as I once did at Charlie Trotter's during his minimal phase). Very good service, though while our main server was very nice and knew about the food and wine, he was not as personable-connecting as we have had at other 2 and 3 star restaurants....others servers (food runners?) were!
    As with most Tasting Menu restaurants, the meal and wine pairings (we did the Regular (1) and Reserve (1)), was expensive and required pre-payment (the infernal Tock system). Was it worth the outlay...only you can decide, we were happy when we left.
  • Post #12 - July 9th, 2018, 7:57 pm
    Post #12 - July 9th, 2018, 7:57 pm Post #12 - July 9th, 2018, 7:57 pm
    MFK wrote:the meal and wine pairings (we did the Regular (1) and Reserve (1)), was expensive and required pre-payment (the infernal Tock system).

    At most of the restaurants using Tock, the meal requires pre-payment, but the wine pairings can be purchased either in advance or at the meal. When I ate at Smyth a few months ago, I only pre-purchased the meal, and IIRC at least one member of our party ordered the pairings at our dinner.
  • Post #13 - July 9th, 2018, 8:11 pm
    Post #13 - July 9th, 2018, 8:11 pm Post #13 - July 9th, 2018, 8:11 pm
    MFK wrote:The food has wonderful flavor, but falls into the "Tweezer Food" realm. Portions are tiny, but we did not leave hungry (as I once did at Charlie Trotter's during his minimal phase).


    I'd have to disagree--in fact, the most prominent and novel feature of our experience in April was how decidedly un-tweezer it was. The Shields are going for big flavors here: lots of fat and umami, less on fermentation, regional terroir, vegetable-focused blah blah, et al. Our menu featured a beet cooked and served like a steak, and steak aged 120 days that was served with a crepe made solely of buttermilk; don't forget that brioche-and-jus side, too. And the spherified egg yolk for dessert. And so on. Each course may not be entree sized, but I would not call them tiny.
  • Post #14 - July 9th, 2018, 9:00 pm
    Post #14 - July 9th, 2018, 9:00 pm Post #14 - July 9th, 2018, 9:00 pm
    When we ate there a few months ago, we ordered the big menu, which the website called "12 courses" but turned out to be twenty. Some courses were a single bite or two while others were larger. What matters with any tasting menu is how you feel at the end of the meal. We felt completely satisfied - rather full but not bloated. Perfect. (And the food was awesome!)

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