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Schwa: I Was There When

Schwa: I Was There When
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  • Post #871 - September 3rd, 2014, 8:36 pm
    Post #871 - September 3rd, 2014, 8:36 pm Post #871 - September 3rd, 2014, 8:36 pm
    I agree with Siun. We went to Schwa in March of this year. The food was excellent. The music was loud and the servers were casual, but I would definitely not describe the experience as wild. It was much more normal than I expected.
  • Post #872 - September 3rd, 2014, 9:59 pm
    Post #872 - September 3rd, 2014, 9:59 pm Post #872 - September 3rd, 2014, 9:59 pm
    That is the thing about Schwa; it can be a drastically different experience across visits. I have witnessed Schwa as a rather tame experience that could have been enjoyed by a family dining with children. I have also witnessed Schwa where (at least some) of the chefs were intoxicated, rowdy (but in a happy, not scary way), doing things out in the open that are not legal and pacing became extremely slow and disorganized (yet I still had a blast and somehow the quality of the food did not seem to be markedly impacted). Schwa is so unique and such a wildcard. It is the only venue I have ever been where on any given night there is a very realistic chance that it can be a mind blowing, highly memorable experience that ranks in the "one of my best meals ever" category or be a total dud (fortunately they are in the former way more than the latter, but do have more "off" nights than most high end restaurants). Consistency is definitely not what comes to mind when I think of Schwa in terms of the overall experience; I think the people reporting wild and crazy occurrences and the people reporting just slightly edgy meals are both 100% correct - on any given night Schwa can fall at either of these extremes. Dining at Schwa is truly a gamble, but a gamble where the odds are skewed in your favor to win big.
    Last edited by Gonzo70 on September 4th, 2014, 7:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
    Twitter: @Goof_2
  • Post #873 - September 3rd, 2014, 10:37 pm
    Post #873 - September 3rd, 2014, 10:37 pm Post #873 - September 3rd, 2014, 10:37 pm
    We certainly had an extraordinary experience at Schwa - enough so that the meal led my daughter to move back to Chicago to cook for real and she's now on the line at Embeya - and there was a pause in service to allow one table to get a little air and herbal nourishment before the later rounds of courses -but what was truly mindblowing to both of us I think was seeing a brigade cook with such love and care for making it the best they could imagine - and then their interest in how we were experiencing what they had created. That's a pretty unique experience.
  • Post #874 - October 1st, 2015, 7:46 am
    Post #874 - October 1st, 2015, 7:46 am Post #874 - October 1st, 2015, 7:46 am
    Anyone been here recently?
  • Post #875 - October 1st, 2015, 10:15 am
    Post #875 - October 1st, 2015, 10:15 am Post #875 - October 1st, 2015, 10:15 am
    heinz wrote:Anyone been here recently?

    I went Labor Day weekend and it was the best meal I've ever had there after going ~10 times previously. Loved every course. They are really firing on all cylinders right now in my opinion.
  • Post #876 - October 1st, 2015, 10:22 am
    Post #876 - October 1st, 2015, 10:22 am Post #876 - October 1st, 2015, 10:22 am
    My husband and I were just there on Tuesday. I'm not one to take notes/pictures or remember lots of details, but I can say that our meal was outstanding!
  • Post #877 - October 1st, 2015, 10:33 pm
    Post #877 - October 1st, 2015, 10:33 pm Post #877 - October 1st, 2015, 10:33 pm
    WOW!! This is such good news. I've been probably 10 times as well (maybe more) and there have definitely been some "off" nights. One time was absolutely awful -- everything was disgustingly sweet and felt like course after course of mistakes. But that was years ago by now...
    Excited to make a call tomorrow.
  • Post #878 - October 2nd, 2015, 8:16 am
    Post #878 - October 2nd, 2015, 8:16 am Post #878 - October 2nd, 2015, 8:16 am
    Was there in late August and it was our 4th time. Definitely still a great meal, but easily the worst of the 4. Even the quail egg ravioli, which is usually one of my favorite bites in the world, was off (ravioli was undercooked). Couldve just been an off night, but at the price point, I probably wouldnt go back for a while.
  • Post #879 - February 22nd, 2016, 10:54 pm
    Post #879 - February 22nd, 2016, 10:54 pm Post #879 - February 22nd, 2016, 10:54 pm
    After getting canceled on a few years ago by Schwa and several failed attempts to make a reservation before and after, I'd given up on going. But my interest was piqued last summer when reading Jeff Ruby's excellent review and decided to give it another go. I called in early August hoping to make a September reservation. I was surprised when I got through on my first try, but figured that was a fluke when I was told they weren't taking reservations yet but that they'd call me when the books opened. When they called the following week, I didn't mention that I thought there was no chance they would actually call, but I did have to admit my possible September dates had vanished.

    Cautiously optimistic that reservation difficulties were a thing of the past, I called back in October for November reservations, got through on my first try once again, and happily reserved a 4-top for a Saturday in November.

    The number of courses, the number of elements in each course, and the number of drinks I enjoyed make a comprehensive recap impossible. I can say that, for me, this was an all-time great meal (#1 among meals that included neither beef nor pork) with great service in a wonderfully relaxed environment. Schwa is a genuinely special restaurant and I'd really encourage anyone put off by past reservation issues to give it another shot.

    Chef Carlson was not in the kitchen that night but, as you can see, his team didn't miss a beat. I was able to document the whole meal. A few edited photos follow and, if you're interested, the full set of unedited photos is here.

    Schwa Quail Ravioli.jpg Schwa's rightfully infamous quail egg ravioli with truffle, pecorino, brown butter, other goodness. This was mind-blowingly delicious.

    Schwa Pappardelle.jpg Pappardelle, tomato, zucchini, balsamic, squash blossom filled with burrata, other stuff - all incredibly delicious

    Schwa Grapefruit.jpg Grapefruit in 3 forms, caviar, and a couple other ingredients made for a fantastic blend of sweet, acidic, and salty flavors

    Schwa Oyster.jpg Kumamoto oyster and flower in 7-Up gel, which was eaten with a 7-up powder with some fizziness/pop rocks that were in a dish below the oyster
  • Post #880 - July 21st, 2017, 2:37 pm
    Post #880 - July 21st, 2017, 2:37 pm Post #880 - July 21st, 2017, 2:37 pm
    Anyone been in recently? I am about to make my return and was looking for some recent data points on experience, and any particular wines or alcohols that seemed to make sense.
  • Post #881 - August 10th, 2017, 7:48 am
    Post #881 - August 10th, 2017, 7:48 am Post #881 - August 10th, 2017, 7:48 am
    Gebert on Schwa, on the cover of the new Reader:

    "Carlson is now 43, and his restaurant is not unlike a veteran rock band: The party days aren't exactly gone, they're just more infrequent and less crazed. Schwa now is more of a functional business than the 'pirate ship' that Carlson once described it as. 'We still have fun. We're still the same people,' [chef de cuisine Wilson] Bauer says. 'But we have kids now.' He's speaking not just of the maturity brought about by his and other staff member's caring for biological children, but also the unlikely evolution of Schwa into a fertile proving ground for his and Carlson's kitchen kids—the city's next generation of young culinary talent."

    https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/s ... d=28880809
  • Post #882 - August 10th, 2017, 8:45 am
    Post #882 - August 10th, 2017, 8:45 am Post #882 - August 10th, 2017, 8:45 am
    So should I not bring them treats from Denver Saturday night? It's been 5 years since ive been in. :)
  • Post #883 - September 12th, 2018, 4:47 pm
    Post #883 - September 12th, 2018, 4:47 pm Post #883 - September 12th, 2018, 4:47 pm
    They’re now taking reservations online through Tock:
    https://chicago.eater.com/2018/9/12/178 ... icker-park
  • Post #884 - September 12th, 2018, 5:31 pm
    Post #884 - September 12th, 2018, 5:31 pm Post #884 - September 12th, 2018, 5:31 pm
    JoeChicago wrote:They’re now taking reservations online through Tock

    Is that how they cancel them, too? :twisted:
  • Post #885 - September 13th, 2018, 8:52 am
    Post #885 - September 13th, 2018, 8:52 am Post #885 - September 13th, 2018, 8:52 am
    Funny, I had literally forgotten this restaurant existed (go figure, making it difficult to dine there made it easier to disregard) but my wife just ate there for some function. As per her usual criticism of flights, she enjoyed the courses less as they went on, but I think she generally left satisfied, if a little wobbly, in part due to a shot she was encouraged to take by the kitchen while waiting for the restroom.
  • Post #886 - September 14th, 2018, 9:44 am
    Post #886 - September 14th, 2018, 9:44 am Post #886 - September 14th, 2018, 9:44 am
    shot she was encouraged to take by the kitchen while waiting for the restroom.
    .

    Seeing as how I have a weak bladder, I'm making a reservation.
  • Post #887 - September 17th, 2018, 9:57 am
    Post #887 - September 17th, 2018, 9:57 am Post #887 - September 17th, 2018, 9:57 am
    Yes, they definitely share when you are waiting for the washroom. Had a dinner there over the weekend, and the food was tremendous. I'm still not a fan of a 3+ hour tasting menu, there or anywhere, but they do a great job with the dishes, plating, serving, etc.
    Leek

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  • Post #888 - September 18th, 2018, 3:42 pm
    Post #888 - September 18th, 2018, 3:42 pm Post #888 - September 18th, 2018, 3:42 pm
    Bspar wrote:So should I not bring them treats from Denver Saturday night? It's been 5 years since ive been in. :)


    Reminds me of our experience a few years ago. At one point we noticed the entire staff had disappeared, and a few minutes later they entered back in from the alley along with a cloud of smoke that wasn't from cigarettes.
  • Post #889 - October 23rd, 2018, 2:41 pm
    Post #889 - October 23rd, 2018, 2:41 pm Post #889 - October 23rd, 2018, 2:41 pm
    I have a reservation with the mrs for our anniversary at Schwa coming up and was wondering what to bring beverage-wise. Our wine "collection" leans towards big California cabs & red blends. Should we find something lighter?

    I saw a reco in the thread for "bubbles and pinot" would anyone echo that?

    I've also heard that people share with the kitchen, still true? What's an appropriate amount of booze to bring for 2? I'd say we'll be moderate drinkers this evening. It's a "school night." I know this is a hard question to answer.

    Thanks in advance!
  • Post #890 - October 23rd, 2018, 2:49 pm
    Post #890 - October 23rd, 2018, 2:49 pm Post #890 - October 23rd, 2018, 2:49 pm
    october271986 wrote:I have a reservation with the mrs for our anniversary at Schwa coming up and was wondering what to bring beverage-wise. Our wine "collection" leans towards big California cabs & red blends. Should we find something lighter?

    I saw a reco in the thread for "bubbles and pinot" would anyone echo that?

    I've also heard that people share with the kitchen, still true? What's an appropriate amount of booze to bring for 2? I'd say we'll be moderate drinkers this evening. It's a "school night." I know this is a hard question to answer.

    Thanks in advance!


    Can't answer the first question, but I've brought 6 packs of beer for the kitchen, which were a big hit.
  • Post #891 - October 23rd, 2018, 3:35 pm
    Post #891 - October 23rd, 2018, 3:35 pm Post #891 - October 23rd, 2018, 3:35 pm
    Behavioral wrote:
    Can't answer the first question, but I've brought 6 packs of beer for the kitchen, which were a big hit.


    I'm guessing it wasn't Bud Light? :-)
  • Post #892 - October 23rd, 2018, 6:01 pm
    Post #892 - October 23rd, 2018, 6:01 pm Post #892 - October 23rd, 2018, 6:01 pm
    On my one (great) experience with Schwa, I called and spoke to one of the guys to get advice on wine for that night. And yes, they answered the phone.

    The tequila we took for the kitchen was a big hit.
    "There’s only one thing I hate more than lying: skim milk, which is water that’s lying about being milk."
    - Ron Swanson
  • Post #893 - October 24th, 2018, 11:21 am
    Post #893 - October 24th, 2018, 11:21 am Post #893 - October 24th, 2018, 11:21 am
    october271986 wrote:
    Behavioral wrote:
    Can't answer the first question, but I've brought 6 packs of beer for the kitchen, which were a big hit.


    I'm guessing it wasn't Bud Light? :-)


    It was something reasonably rare in Chicago--maybe New Glarus Apple Ale or something.
  • Post #894 - October 28th, 2018, 11:48 pm
    Post #894 - October 28th, 2018, 11:48 pm Post #894 - October 28th, 2018, 11:48 pm
    The menu there right now lends pretty well to bubbles, dry whites, and lighter high-toned reds.

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