Smyth has a large open kitchen (with a wood fire), a small waiting area and 2 Michelin stars. Upstairs from it is a ‘sister’ restaurant with a more casual mode. Lighting is lower with plenty of candles in the room. A variety of music plays in the background, including rap, on a real turntable. The polished wood bare tabes were well spaced and set on a concrete floor with a wood ceiling overhead. A couple of large wood columns are in the room, but they appeared to be structural. It serves only a tasting menu which you designate the length of when you make your reservation. Ours was the Omaha tasting. Wine pairings were available, as are non-alcoholic pairings, but we ordered our own wines. Service was excellent and friendly and pacing was good. This meal started strong and never let up the quality – put it on your list if you’re in Chicago.
The tasting started with a Capital Oyster seasoned with dulse, radish and preserved berries. The west coast oyster was further seasoned with seaweed and celery top oil. There were lots of textures to the briny dish and good flavor.
Next were 3 dishes from the same Shima Aji fish – a white fish. Pickled shima aji was paired with marinated leek with rhubarb root. There was some apple in this that was also pickled and the rhubarb root was an oil, the shallot an ash. It was good.
Smoked Shima Aji head in crispy sourdough was the head meat of the fish that was cured and smoked for 2 hours and then mixed with seaweed, pinecones cured in honey for 2 years, and chad roe all served in a sourdough shell. The smokey essence really came through. The ultra thin shell was exquisite and the chad roe’s pop added even more deliciousness to the dish.
The last part was the Shima Aji ribs barbecued with Kaluga Caviar. The barbecue contained some yuzu, pickled spruce oil and the caviar was from sturgeon. The fish here was very meat-like and the barbecue sauce fit it perfectly. The caviar just added a terrific decadence to the wonderful set of flavors. The fish series ended with a warm moist cloth that was badly needed to keep me from licking my fingers.
Lightly steamed halibut was paired with mussels and green tea. The halibut was lightly poached and served with a fermented vinaigrette and an oyster mussel sauce. The amazing large flake fish was cooked perfectly and stayed wonderfully moist. It worked terrifically with the dressing/ sauce. This was an awesome dish.
Red Kuri Squash cooked with quince, blue cheese and wild rice made up the next course. The squash was seasoned with foie gras poached in salt waster and adorned with a chared bit of of squash. The foam was made from rice(from when it boils) and blue cheese oil. This dish was sweet and tart in an excellent blending of strong flavors. It was really good.
The King Crab cooked with egg yolk, horseradish and walnuts were live shortly before they came to the table. The browned butter and egg yolk sauce was strewn with walnuts on top which blended together perfectly. The totally sweet crab was moist and tender and the sauce simply amazing. This dish bursts with flavor and fun – give it yum x2.
Sunchokes with roasted yeast, pickled pear and dried scallop was another wonderful dish. The sunchokes had been cooked in lemon juice and browned yeast cream. Pickled carrots were underneath and the jus was made with kelp and dehydrated scallops. This was lip smacking great. The sunchoke was a “frito” shape cut with the skin fried and a terrific sauce on the side. All the ingredients were good on their own or when blended together.
Aged beef tenderloin with marmite and buttermilk was very tasty. The beef was aged 4 months and garnished with housemade marmite and black trumpet mushrooms in onion jus. The very tender meat was great as were the sides when eaten with it.
The whole squab was presented first and then the legs and head were presented and the breast meat. The lacquered squab was mixed with dried pear leaves and dried lemon verbena. Some pineapple sage was mixed with crushed dehydrated pears and foie gras jus then coated on the very rare squab. The breast was delicious especially with the wonderful honey glaze. The brain was creamy and light, the thigh meat excellent. Another winner.
The first dessert was Milk Chocolate, raspberry preserves, shiitake and kelp. It was a milk chocolate ganache with a very thin layer of red raspberry preserves, fermented shiitake mushrooms, kelp oil and a little salt on the outside. The inside was a creamy blend of goodness that was incredibly smooth and delicious. An excellent dish.
Next was a Yogurt parfait with cloud berries, parsnip and jasmine oil. It was meringue like with yogurt, parsnip snow and the juice of cloudberries that added citrus flavor. A little marigold and jasmine tea oil finished this interesting gathering. It worked well.
Bosc pears preserved in hay were dished at the table. They were served with chamomile frozen cream and nectar of quince. Alongside was an ember cake that had been brushed with smoked butter and toasted. It really picked up the smoke taste and was a great butter fix with a fabulous texture. The sweet pears were divine as was the cream in the bowl with them. Eaten alone or with the cake, you couldn’t go wrong here. It was a good dish all the way around.
A seaweed caramel tart was an odd combination and not the prettiest dish but it was quite good. A really crisp crust with a sweet sticky filling made a great combination. It was a wonderful surprise.
Salted black licorice looked like a burned baby carrot but tasted totally different. I’m a licorice lover, so this one suited me just fine.
Dried sweet corn, ground cherries and quince curd finished up the sweets. It was a corn macaroon like bottom topped with quince curd for another tasty bite.