Smyth, Chicago, 7/14/22

exterior – 177 North Ada Street, Chicago, IL., 60607 – ground floor

Smyth was last visited by Frankie and me in Nov. of 2018.  The interior hasn’t changed much – the main difference this time was eating there in daylight, as the days are much longer in summer.  It does give the room a different feel with the floor-to-ceiling windows being open to the street activity.  The large open kitchen is divided into 2 parts, one serving as the dessert area.  The small bare dark wood tables are well spaced and some bench seating is along one wall.  Music is in the background but you also hear the kitchen calling out orders to one another.  I don’t remember that.  It still serves only a tasting menu with optional drink pairings but there is only one tasting menu (except for allergy substitutions).  The wine list is small and on the pricy side.  The diners seemed more casually dressed than I’d expect in a Michelin 2-star place.  Service was attentive and efficient but not as warm as on our last visit.  We decided to have a bottle of champagne to accompany our tasting.  No menu was provided but one was emailed about a week later.


interior/waiting area
dessert kitchen
interior/main kitchen/bathrooms/service area
Frankie thought the table flowers were different



The tasting started with a candied kelp tart with sugar snap peas in a rosette of fresh truffles.  It was one bite.  The wonderful truffle flavor was divine with the crisp candied shell.  A terrific beginning.

black truffle and sweet pea tartlet


Summer squash was plated with a melon flower in a cucumber base.  The excellent squash blended well with the dill undertones.  It was a fresh and good few bites of summer.

summer squash, chamomile and togarashi pepper


Scallops from Maine were alive just before bringing them to the table.  They were mixed with some of their white roe, and tomato seeds and topped with fresh cream.  Lovely mild flavors blended nicely with the very tender scallop.

Maine scallops
Frankie enjoyed a real candle


Lobster coral custard was mixed with raspberry rose and hazelnut.  It was mild and subtle with a wonderful texture.  The custard was made with the remaining lobster bits that were turned into broth.

lobster coral and hazelnut custard


Some of the lobster claw meat  was on top of chilled raspberry tomato reduction and dotted with dianthus flowers.  There were 2 tender and cool slices of lobster accented by the tasty gel made from the lobster remains.  The tomato was pure summer for another wonderful summer dish.

lobster claw and raspberry ceviche


Half an avocado  was covered with pistachio and a gastrique of pepper and lettuce all on top of peanut milk and granita.  The ice was quite tart which overwhelmed the flavor of the avocado.  The avocado did have a nice texture from proper ripeness but this combination just didn’t work for me.

chilled California avocado, pistachio and sea lettuce


The final lobster dish was with the tail meat on a consommé highlighted with black walnut oil.  Marcona almond slices decorated the lobster meat.  The almond flavor blended nicely with the tender, tasty lobster.  Some green almond oil was also in this mix.  Lovely.

lobster tail warmed with almond milk and newly pressed walnut oil
Frankie thought walnut chopsticks were nice with the walnut stand


Foie gras was brined and then poached and paired with a butter braised avocado.  Kelp and mushroom miso, infused with mustard greens finished out the plate.  The foie gras was studded with caramelized kelp pieces.  Lots of textures in this dish. The mushroom broth was delicious and it really enhanced the foie gras.  Grilling the avocado brought out its flavor for an odd looking but tasty dish.

foie gras, barbecued avocado and blade kelp


Lamb loin was roasted  and topped with the renderings made into jus with some added herbs, green peas and eucalyptus.   Cooked to a nice medium rare it was tender and tasty.

slow roasted lamb saddle, porcini, eucalyptus


Donut dough was filled with Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese and topped with Kaluga Caviar.  The creamy cheesy center of the wonderful doughnut was really fun and then add caviar and to the moon we go.  It was meant to be eaten carefully cause it runs everywhere.  This was the second half of the lamb course.

Pleasant Ridge reserve cheese and caviar donut
from the top
Frankie found old menus


Blueberry infused enoki mushrooms were on a goat’s milk sorbet and an elderflower sabayon.  The excellent combination was a smooth and cool transition course.

Sheep’s milk sorbet, elderflower and blueberry


Guava tea was frozen into an ice, then shaved and shattered.  Underneath was some pine honey, gooseberry and egg yolk custard.  This one had very interesting flavors and many interwoven textures for a successful mix.  The honey became chewy when mixed with the icy ingredients then pair that with the pop of the berries and creamy custard for a fine dessert.

lime leaf, pine and sheets of ice


Preserved strawberries and honey wax were with a strawberry nectar.  The strawberry flavor was wonderfully strong and fruity for a very good bowl.  It was paired with a salted egg tartlet that was covered in shaved material to be eaten in one bite.  It was a bit large for me for one bite so I got you a peek inside.

strawberry and nasturtium honey pot and preserved egg yolk tartlet, marigold and jasmine
closer tartlet


The last dessert was barley mousse with black malt that was topped with caviar.  It came with a black walnut beverage pairing.  it was an interesting mix of flavors but did work best with the assigned beverage.

making final dessert
barley mousse, burnt chocolate and caviar
black walnut and venison consomme with 8 year Japanese whiskey drink to go with it
Frankie got worn out

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