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Any news on Schwa?

Any news on Schwa?
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  • Post #31 - September 16th, 2005, 10:49 am
    Post #31 - September 16th, 2005, 10:49 am Post #31 - September 16th, 2005, 10:49 am
    What, you actually plan to eat there and post about the food?

    Bizarre.
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  • Post #32 - September 16th, 2005, 11:04 am
    Post #32 - September 16th, 2005, 11:04 am Post #32 - September 16th, 2005, 11:04 am
    Okay, I was already looking forward to trying Schwa--partly because of it's location and the string of slightly eccentric but tasty restaurants that have preceded Schwa therein--but I'm REALLY looking forward to eating there now that Chef Achatz recommends Mr. Schwa. If the person responsible for one of the most enjoyable meals I've had in a long time says a chef is good: I'm there!

    OT: As a side note, I'm sorry I've not posted about my meal at Alinea--I will soon. In a nutshell: fun and delicious. Was it worth the money? Well, it must have been, because I want to go back! I didn't feel that way after going to Charlie Trotter's, and I certainly don't have the kind of money that would allow me to go back soon, but I'm looking forward to the time when I can. We also got to talk briefly to Chef Achatz during a whirlwind kitchen tour, which was very nice, and my dining companion was thrilled to see the "volcano" apparatus that fills the pillow with coffee air...fun stuff.

    Back on Topic: I promise I will post about Schwa in a timely fashion...
  • Post #33 - September 16th, 2005, 11:10 am
    Post #33 - September 16th, 2005, 11:10 am Post #33 - September 16th, 2005, 11:10 am
    Mike G wrote:What, you actually plan to eat there and post about the food?

    Bizarre.


    Why?
  • Post #34 - September 16th, 2005, 11:29 am
    Post #34 - September 16th, 2005, 11:29 am Post #34 - September 16th, 2005, 11:29 am
    Because, it would seem, the esteemed stevez is alleged, claimed, and otherwise accused (in jest, one must believe) of perpetrating multiple posts without committing concomitant reviews. But then, that's just my reading. And I could be wrong!
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #35 - September 16th, 2005, 4:02 pm
    Post #35 - September 16th, 2005, 4:02 pm Post #35 - September 16th, 2005, 4:02 pm
    nr706 wrote:Does anyone else find it interesting to see this board get its first post from certainly one of the area's and arguably one of the world's top chefs, and see the discussion return almost immediately to a silly (albeit entertaining) discussion of punctuation and emoticons?

    Well, if he weren't interested in such discussions, he wouldn't have named his restaurant after a typographical symbol.
  • Post #36 - September 16th, 2005, 4:21 pm
    Post #36 - September 16th, 2005, 4:21 pm Post #36 - September 16th, 2005, 4:21 pm
    LAZ wrote:
    nr706 wrote:Does anyone else find it interesting to see this board get its first post from certainly one of the area's and arguably one of the world's top chefs, and see the discussion return almost immediately to a silly (albeit entertaining) discussion of punctuation and emoticons?

    Well, if he weren't interested in such discussions, he wouldn't have named his restaurant after a typographical symbol.


    touché
  • Post #37 - September 17th, 2005, 2:33 pm
    Post #37 - September 17th, 2005, 2:33 pm Post #37 - September 17th, 2005, 2:33 pm
    Today's Saturday version of the Wall Street Journal:

    "Meanwhile, in Chicago, Michael Carlson describes his menu at Schwa as a combination of conventional and "progressive" fare, though he doesn't use these labels on the menu. The most progressive dishes at this tiny (28 seat) restaurant are prosciutto consomme', served with dehydrated prosciutto and melon sorbet, and raw quail egg ravioli that spurts yolk when you bite into it. The most familiar: artichoke and shrimp risotto and heirloom tomatoes with balsamic vinegar (open; entrees $19-$27)"

    FYI
    Bill-Aurora
  • Post #38 - September 18th, 2005, 9:44 am
    Post #38 - September 18th, 2005, 9:44 am Post #38 - September 18th, 2005, 9:44 am
    My husband and I ate there last night - Saturday September 17th - and it was very good.

    I'm vegetarian and on last night's showing there were slightly less exciting options for a veggie than Lovitt formerly provided, but what i did have was great, and i got the impression of a lot of attention to quality and detail throughout.

    Without criticzing the rest of the meal, possibly the best parts were the "amuse bouche" we were served before the appetizers, and the little taste/dessert that came after the main dessert, with the check. The amuse was a beautifully presented couple of bites of walnut-meal sprinkled lychee, with a small glass of some kind of tea ... absolute perfection in the blending of flavors - fresh and floral and smoky and ... yum. The presentation was fabulous, as it was for everything we were served - the amuse was garnished with small pink flower heads.

    My husband had the prosciutto consomme - he wasn't super impressed with the broth itself, but the prosciutto was good, and the melon balls and arugula in the dish all worked well with the prosciutto flavor. I had the cheese plate - this was probably intended to be shared as the portions were generous. A wonderful Australian blue cheese was featured - I don't receall its name - but it was garnished with very thin plum slices and the combination was great. A creamy goat cheese sat by drizzled honey, with a sprinkling of granulated honey. There was another cheese which i cannot for some reason describe, garnished with almonds, and some tasty olive oil-y flat bread. Very good.

    I had the vegan roast for the main dish. The roast itself I felt was unremarkable, it came with some minature yellow carrots and tiny roast potatoes, and a spicy peanut sauce. A pleasant dish but not one I will remember or seek out again. My husband had roasted lamb, crusted with finely shredded onion, with asian broccoli, edamame and mushrooms. The lamb was cooked pinkly and perfectly and the mushrooms in particular had a wonderful flavor, I'm told - the sauce was miso-based and apparently also fine.

    The desserts were good. Blueberry soup came with a tiny scoop of nutmeg sorbet and garnished with yellow raspberries. Blackened pineapple and baked bananas arrived with a glass of thick ginger custard and a drizzle of caramel sauce, and both were delicious.

    The atmosphere I felt was less "comfortable" than Lovitt's had been - I believe the lighting was stronger, and to me it felt a little harsh. The walls are white and apple green, and the floor and chairs are of a light wood. Not a luxuorious room by any means, but then again it is all about the food. One wall featured some framed prints, the opposite wall a wavy wooden sculpture and some "air plants". The overall impression I felt was a little stark and cold. Although it is a small room, with all the hard surfaces conversation does echo around and it quickly gets to feel noisy.

    All in all, a very good meal and we will be returning. It will be interesting to see how the atmosphere mellows as they settle in.
  • Post #39 - December 12th, 2005, 5:28 pm
    Post #39 - December 12th, 2005, 5:28 pm Post #39 - December 12th, 2005, 5:28 pm
    This past weekend, we celebrated my girlfriend's mother's birthday at Schwa. This was the second visit for me and my girlfriend, the first for all others at the table.

    First the food is as good if not better than the last time we were there. Unfortunately, the restaurant was only half-full at best throughout our meal (and we were there for about 3 hours). Schwa may have the worst location in the city, so it is up to us to spread the gospel and keep this place going. They are serving really special food and it would be a shame to see Schwa go away. Hopefully they were just quiet because of the weather.

    The menu was mostly unchanged from the last time we were there. The most significant addition is a tasting menu options ($70) which you can upgrade to include white truffles (supplement is $30). At the moment they are serving a homemade tagliatelle with parmigano-regianno and shaved white truffles. Simple and delicious. I had one of the new main courses, which was pork tenderloin cooked sous vide served with a house cured pork belly, sourkraut and raisins. Outstanding.

    Dessert is still a choice of two dishes, but one is now chocolate (a brownie served with pumpkin ice cream), the other was an upside down pineapple cake with ginger cream. Both were very good.

    Following dessert the kitchen sent out an experiment. The top of an apple with holes poked in it. Sticks were in the holes and at the end of each stick was a little ball of carmelized apple. What was it called? (Wait for it...and, all together) Carmel apple! A fun little treat to end the night.

    So, once again a great meal at Schwa, a restaurant that certainly deserves a larger audience than it appears to be getting. Could be a good GNR candidate the next time around.
  • Post #40 - December 12th, 2005, 6:08 pm
    Post #40 - December 12th, 2005, 6:08 pm Post #40 - December 12th, 2005, 6:08 pm
    Glad to hear that the food is as stellar as before. I've been meaning to make a return trip for some time now, especially for the quail egg ravioli. This was quite possibly my favorite dish that I tried this year. Please tell me that it is still on the menu.

    Schwa really is a great neighborhood restaurant and I've been singing its praises to all of my friends since my first visit. I hope everyone has the opportunity to check this place out.

    Josh
  • Post #41 - December 12th, 2005, 6:35 pm
    Post #41 - December 12th, 2005, 6:35 pm Post #41 - December 12th, 2005, 6:35 pm
    We have Schwa, we have Alinea ... how long before the restaurant Semicolon opens?
  • Post #42 - December 12th, 2005, 7:04 pm
    Post #42 - December 12th, 2005, 7:04 pm Post #42 - December 12th, 2005, 7:04 pm
    jclifton - Yes, the quail egg ravioli is still on the menu. It's my girlfriend's favorite dish there.

    nr706 - Please don't lead us down the path again. :wink:
  • Post #43 - December 16th, 2005, 12:38 pm
    Post #43 - December 16th, 2005, 12:38 pm Post #43 - December 16th, 2005, 12:38 pm
    Quail. Egg. Ravioli. Oh. My. God.

    Superlatives fall short in describing this dish. However, to deconstruct it in sensory terms would feel pornographic, and diminish the meaning of the experience. Though I'd like to be ladylike and discreet, that's not happening. How can I put it? Let me just say that my experience of the quail egg ravioli at Schwa took shape at the nexus of sexuality and spirituality, in the Land of Eros. It was an experience of the divine at once embodied and transcendent, luxurious, and resplendent, in short, deeply, deeply satisfying on many levels. Finally, a dish truly worthy of the french, "ravi au lit"! (I knew I'd be able to use that some day.) And the afterglow is right now at 14 hours and counting. . .

    P.S. Eat your heart out, Joel Robuchon.
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #44 - January 9th, 2006, 3:40 pm
    Post #44 - January 9th, 2006, 3:40 pm Post #44 - January 9th, 2006, 3:40 pm
    OK, I know I was the last person to post on Schwa, but I have been back for more and I feel duty-bound to report that the second meal there was as sublime as the first.

    Let me start by giving kudos for service to Brittany, who expertly managed that tricky territory between professional/discreet and warm/familiar. Our request for a very early dinner was accommodated on a busy holiday weekend. This proved to be important in our enjoyment of the meal, since I was with my parents, who struggle to hear with any ambient noise. I love the small size of Schwa -- somehow it feels as intimate as being in someone's home -- the home of someone who is a stellar chef with a top second-in-command and staff at hand.

    We started with a golden and scarlet beet salad, artfully presented and accented with a balanced vinaigrette, the golden encrusted egg and caviar, and the shrimp/artichoke risotto. The risotto was elevated by what was described as "whole lemon puree." The puree exceeded my threshold for "ambrosial" (operationalized as number of times I find myself thinking about the item after a single taste). On my previous visit, the puree had been made with Buddha's hand--equally transporting, and possibly more exotic.

    When ordering, I had offhandedly expressed disappointment that sweetbreads were no longer on the menu. This was apparently communicated to the chef and he responded, offering a "work-in-progress" with sweetbreads, swiss chard, and tallegio. Earthy and complex, it was a taste of comfort that drew upon subtle connections, wrapped in a sincere act of kindness. What lovelier Christmas gift could I have asked for?

    But there was more. Because my parents' visit was a special occasion, we planned on the white truffles as a surprise for my mother. We were offered a pre-slicing sniff of the tuber-shaped fungi, which whetted our appetites, and made me wish that a ceremony existed to ritualize this moment. (At a minimum, there should be chanting.)

    My daughter had the truffles on the "surf and turf," and the rest of us had the fettucine with truffles or the quail egg ravioli with truffles. I am reduced to a Homeric "Mmmmm" in response to these dishes, but I will spare you. Still, looking back on it, the quail egg ravioli did not need the truffles, having white truffle oil already (but, hey, twist my arm). And lest there be doubters out there, I'd like to add that further confirmation of the powers of quail egg ravioli (referred to in my previous post) was received that evening upon hearing involuntary (?) expressions of rapture from the ladies at the next table.

    For me, Chef Carlson has achieved his vision of a place that is both excellent and unstressed, which is no small accomplishment. On both occasions that I have visited, both Chef Carlson and his chef de cuisine came out to greet the table. This is a very nice touch, and ever so important to me, because when I eat this well, I am truly grateful, and paying for dinner just does not seem to be an adequate thank-you.
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #45 - January 24th, 2006, 2:03 pm
    Post #45 - January 24th, 2006, 2:03 pm Post #45 - January 24th, 2006, 2:03 pm
    Josephine wrote:Quail. Egg. Ravioli. Oh. My. God.


    Well, this may be of some interest to you.

    While I did not have the same reaction as you, I did enjoy Schwa's rendition quite a bit. ;)

    E.M.
  • Post #46 - January 24th, 2006, 5:09 pm
    Post #46 - January 24th, 2006, 5:09 pm Post #46 - January 24th, 2006, 5:09 pm
    Thanks, Erik M, for your post and link. It's interesting that the respondents on the other site used erotic metaphors, as I was moved to do. (On a more level-headed note, I am aware that the quail egg ravioli made some "Best of" lists last year, but ranking is not an approach that I find very informative in matters of food.) I'm so glad that you enjoyed the quail egg experience, as I very much respect your expertise in matters of food.
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #47 - January 24th, 2006, 5:43 pm
    Post #47 - January 24th, 2006, 5:43 pm Post #47 - January 24th, 2006, 5:43 pm
    Josephine wrote:I'm so glad that you enjoyed the quail egg experience, as I very much respect your expertise in matters of food.


    How much do I owe you, and will you accept a personal check? ;)


    [You might enjoy this Schwa review @ VittlesVamp]

    E.M.
  • Post #48 - February 16th, 2006, 8:50 am
    Post #48 - February 16th, 2006, 8:50 am Post #48 - February 16th, 2006, 8:50 am
    I went to Schwa for valentine's day and had the 8-course tasting. Now I totally get what all the fuss is about and have increasing faith in the LTH crew not to lead me astray in finding the good stuff. So thank you to everyone who posted their reviews of this amazing place. I'm so glad I went.

    Below is my review, it's long and imprecise (I'm sorry!!!) but it is what I remember and I hope that it is helpful. While we were there, the staff told us that they were sampling some of the dishes that they plan on using for their new menu so that might be something people are interested in.

    1. carrot juice with cardamom foam dehydrated carrot with cardamom marshmallow

    2. salad of white anchovies, apples, celery and manchego with apple-olive oil puree and celery root puree

    3. caviar and cauliflower on top of cauliflower puree and avocado puree

    4. thick bean soup with bean and veggie garnish and paprika

    5. raw oyster on top of fresh radish and pickled radish topped with cranberry gel

    6. butter poached lobster in lavender foam with gooseberries, spinach and roasted potatoes

    7. duck on top of duck confit with shaved oranges and sunchokes and orange puree and sunchoke puree with kumkuat.

    8. salty milkshake with rasperry puree and dense chocolate cake

    9. apple ball coated with caramel glaze

    The wines we brought were Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru "Clos de la Pucelle" 1997 (white Burgundy, chardonnay)

    Domaine Jean-Jacques Confuron Nuits-St.-George Premier Cru "Aux Boudots" 2002 (red Burgundy, pinot noir)

    So hard to determine what I liked best. I LOVED this meal, absolutely loved it. As you can tell, by the dessert course, I was so absorbed in conversation that I wasn't paying as close attention to what I was eating, but it was amazing throughout.

    1. Loved the carrot cardamom combo - this was an excellent way to start off. I think I would not have been able to appreciate the flavors to their fullest if it was not served first.

    2. I think my date and I can both agree that the celery root puree made this dish. But the mild, not too salty flavor of the anchovies was wonderful and sometimes I find granny smiths to be too tart, but these weren't. I also dug on the juxtaposition between the celery in the salad and the celery root puree as well as the apples in the salad and the apple puree but especially the former, because although they aren't even the same vegetable, there are similar flavors there.

    3. Such a creative dish. This totally wowed me. The balance in textures and flavors was just amazing. I am so curious to know how this dish was concieved because it seems like something one would just never think of and yet it's perfection.

    4. This was delicious, I wish I could remember the type of bean that was used. I loved the presentation. I'm not sure what all of the little veggies and beans that went with the soup were but they were artfully arranged and provided great variation in terms of texture, which to me, is very important.

    5. The previous course had a decidedly Middle-Eastern flair and this one tasted Asian in origin. I think that this was a very interesting dish but less exotic to me because it combined flavors that I am more familiar with but I will say that I usually don't like fruit with shellfish, especially in its raw state but the cranberry was not too sweet and it balanced the brininess of the oyster perfectly. Once again, the textures here really worked, the crunch of the radish with some of the pickling juice went down well with the oyster and the smooth gelatin-like cranberry gel.

    6. This was good, more familiar to my palate, but hopefully that is not a negative since I have tried my best to eat as much as often and as well as possible. The gooseberries really brought out the sweetness of the lobster. I didn't eat the potatoes, because I hate potatoes. I didn't really taste the lavender in the foam. Overall I thought that this dish paired best with the white burgundy that we were drinking.

    7. This dish, like the last one was more like something I have tasted before in terms of flavor combination. I don't think that I have ever had sunchokes but they added good texture and balanced the sweetness of the orange.

    8. I'm not sure what was in the salty milkshake. But I liked it. Was it a nod to salt lassie? I sort of think that it was but of course, without the sourness of the yogurt, it was also completely different. I would have preferred it to be less salty and I never thought I would ever say that about anything. I dipped the dense chocolate cake in the salty milkcake with each bite.

    9. Crunchy and salty and not too tart. Perfect finish. This is sort of what you really want to eat after a big meal yet, again, something I would never have realized I wanted - if that makes any sense.

    A couple of miscellaneous things. The plating was pure art. Probably the best presentation of any meal I have ever eaten. I had one more comment but I forgot what it was. This was not it, but the music was great, it totally matched what the young people running the show seem to be all about. I want to go back and try the quail egg ravioli.

    One final note...the portions were not small. They were perfect. We cleaned our plates and left fully but not sick.
  • Post #49 - April 5th, 2006, 4:20 pm
    Post #49 - April 5th, 2006, 4:20 pm Post #49 - April 5th, 2006, 4:20 pm
    Congrats to Chef Michael Carlson, named one of Food and Wine Magazine's Best New Chefs of 2006. Well deserved for the whole team!
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #50 - May 11th, 2006, 4:41 pm
    Post #50 - May 11th, 2006, 4:41 pm Post #50 - May 11th, 2006, 4:41 pm
    All of the recent press clippings have made Schwa the single hardest reservation to get in Chicago. They are booked for weekends through June and most of July, and booked weekdays through June and some weekdays in July. In the not-so-distant past, I could call up a few days in advance and get a table.

    No offense to Schwa (one of the best food deals in town, in my opinion -- mostly due to the generous corkage policy), but it's just not one of those places that I could picture myself booking months in advance (such as Alinea or Spiaggia) . . . or so I thought. Book early!
  • Post #51 - May 12th, 2006, 4:05 pm
    Post #51 - May 12th, 2006, 4:05 pm Post #51 - May 12th, 2006, 4:05 pm
    Since my anniversary falls right in the middle of the annual restaurant show, I've long since given up on being able to take my wife to the hot new spot on the actual day, or until the conventioneers are gone. But even by my adjusted standards, the combination of Schwa's hotness and tininess has made it like getting into somewhere hyper-trendy in New York or LA; although their message says they take reservations from 2 pm on, I found it impossible to ever get an actual person on the phone (no doubt they were frantically getting ready for tonight's full house) and had to leave a message each day, whereupon they would call me back the next day, inevitably when I wasn't there, to tell me that what I had requested was hopeless. (And this was for mid-week reservations, mind you.) Unfortunately, they never gave me quite enough clues to make a successful guess each time I called back and suggested another date or two.

    Finally, today, they caught me at home and I was able to say, "You tell me what's available." Basically the answer was, some of July and August, though they did find one open slot in June which I grabbed like the last Tickle Me Elmo on December 24th.

    I don't fault them for any of the above (though they could take the hint and put up some clues on their website, or at least be more specific when leaving messages), I'm mildly amused that we're in with the in crowd and it sounds like the hotness is deserved (we'll know for sure in June), but I am just letting you know what you face if, post the Food & Wine ten best chefs honor, you want to get a table.
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  • Post #52 - May 13th, 2006, 8:53 am
    Post #52 - May 13th, 2006, 8:53 am Post #52 - May 13th, 2006, 8:53 am
    Part of the problem with reserving in June is the fact that they are closing for two weeks (I believe) to do an event in Aspen.
  • Post #53 - May 13th, 2006, 9:06 am
    Post #53 - May 13th, 2006, 9:06 am Post #53 - May 13th, 2006, 9:06 am
    Any idea what that Aspen event is? My sister plays in the summer music festival and I would like to give her a head's up if they're going to be in town.
  • Post #54 - May 13th, 2006, 9:18 am
    Post #54 - May 13th, 2006, 9:18 am Post #54 - May 13th, 2006, 9:18 am
    Abraus wrote:Any idea what that Aspen event is? My sister plays in the summer music festival and I would like to give her a head's up if they're going to be in town.


    I'm guessing its the Food and Wine Classic on June 16-18. I'm not positive on the length of time, I just heard this after we tried to make reservations for one of the weeks they're gone. We actually had an easier time making reservations at Alinea, but of course when you're talking a 28-seat restaurant, it doesn't take long for it to fill up.

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