Oh no. Oh no no no! They hung up… Ah man… Hello? I was just about to give them my name… when suddenly… silence! Now, I wouldn’t have been so concerned about this, but I had been calling randomly for a reservation for oh say… the past six months. Yes, I had been calling since November and had not been able to get a hold of anyone, until today. So for the next 20 minutes straight, I called Schwa until someone picked up, again. I frantically started to explain my situation when the man on the other end said, “Sorry dude, somebody kicked out the phone jack” He took my name, and with that, my reservation was complete. Three weeks later we made our way to Schwa, for a 9 course tasting menu.
From the outside its difficult to imagine a restaurant exists behind the dark facade and grafitied black door. Any passerby may think it’s just another restaurant that didn’t make it, until you pull open the door and walk inside. The small space is dimly lit which paired well with the blaring rap music that played throughout the night. The place and the people are chill, so wear what you want, bring your own booze and chat it up with your server, who just so happens to be a Michelin starred chef.
The food is a reflection of the atmosphere: intriguing and unpretentious but presented in a sophisticated and upscale manner. Chef Michael Carlson’s diverse culinary influences are on display on the menu with elements of Italian and modern molecular techniques scattered throughout. A few of our favorites included a baked potato soup, which was a great deconstruction on the classic with all the toppings, a sweet passionfruit gelee with salty steelhead fish roe, and his amazing, signature quail egg raviolo in truffle butter. The most surprising dish of the evening was a dish called smores, which instead of marshmallows and chocolate happened to be a beef mole served with a side of campfire smoke.
We were in a serious funk when we walked into Schwa… but at some point during the night we went from crabby to carefree. The relaxed lounge like atmosphere put us at ease while the chefs served the food and found the time to tell us about their creations. It was a true interactive experience, but not for those looking for a subdued environment. We’d go back in a second… if only they’d pick up the phone!
Schwa | 1466 North Ashland Avenue | Chicago, IL 60622 | (773) 252-1466