This is from ages and ages ago, but I have a little time right now so I am trying to play catch up. Schwa had been on my bucket list since we moved back to the Midwest. It’s quite difficult to make a reservation—the reservations are taken by whoever answers the phone, if anyone answers the phone, and often it’s the chef. Sometimes they will tell you to call back later. Often you get an answering machine and find a full mailbox. I’ve tried multiple times to get reservations…and even talked to someone once, only to be told to call back in a week or two.
So what it took to get a reservation was one of my friends having a friend who knew the staff. But hey, I’ll take it. The place is in a tiny storefront and there is like 10 tables. It‘s a pretty simple black and white minimalist décor—and of course the dripping air conditioner on the wall over my friends’ heads. There is a cool window into the kitchen though where you can see the staff feverishly working on the courses. There is very loud music playing at all times. On the night we were there it was Jurassic Five, which quickly became a favorite of hubby. It’s a BYOB place, and they whisk your bottles (or cans or whatever) away and pair them for you throughout the meal. They do a really good job with this. We really didn’t know what we were going to eat so we brought a lot of different wine, white, rose, reds…they paired them just right. Also, it’s advisable to bring something for the kitchen to drink as well.
The food is much more sophisticated than you might imagine and is really, really delicious. A very cool experience. The first “course” was actually the “bourbon olfactory journey” which was three types of bourbon paired with homemade air fresheners that smelled like different bourbon cocktail accompaniments. You were supposed to sip the bourbon whilst you smelled the different scents to feel like you were getting different drinks. A cool idea, but I am not a brown liquor person.
But there were many, many food courses (about 13 or so), and lots of wine, and a lot of time has passed since we ate there, so it’s hard to remember everything, but here’s some food highlights.
The first food course was potato & Leek with yogurt, charred potato chips and salmon roe. Inside the charred leeks, there was roe and on top, little crispy potato chips. So tasty.
Um, raviolo with truffle and buffalo ricotta? You know I was going to like that one. It was definitely one of my favorites.
I also really liked the bone Marrow brulee with grapefruit marmalade and Osetra Caviar—it had a great texture variation as well as a nice salty and acidic kick. Or how about the ouster set in a gelee egg of 7 up?
One course was Pig face fried and topped with crispy chicharrones with bacon dressing, gooseberries, dried and not cherry tomatoes. We also got a little pretzel roll with bacon butter. Delicious. Another was lamb belly and lamb loin.
There was “laundry soap,” a molecular gastronomy take on a drink—you mixed some crystals into a liquid and ended up with a blueberry lemonade type drink. It was tart and a nice palate cleanser.
A Humboldt fog cheesecake? Yes please. My ideal dessert. A cheese with some blue cheese notes and a bit of a crust added. There was also an artsy sweet dessert.
Anyway, you get the idea. I could write a book if I described every nuance. There is lots of cool stuff going on here. The food is expertly and beautifully prepared and tasted really, really good. I hope that I can manage another reservation some day. And if you have the opportunity, do it. It’s a great food experience and just an all around good time.
1466 N. Ashland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622