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Long article in the Trib on Schwa, Carlson, the Trotter dinner (with guestlist and menu) and news that he's opening back up.

 

Wednesday, Carlson will unveil the next iteration of Schwa, with an all-new kitchen staff (including Jonathan Ory of Heat and Bluprint and Gaetano Nardulli of Butter), a spiffed-up dining room and a new menu, in the same location. For the last two weeks, he has been serving practice dinners to friends, family and many of the customers he abandoned last fall.

 

Carlson's immediate goals are to return Schwa to its high culinary level while minimizing the stress that triggered its closure.

 

 

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I am going to Schwa this week, if I dont go to Girl & Goat instead.

 

Carlson needs a better writer for his website. This passage is especially cringe-worthy:

 

Chicagoland native Michael Carlson began his professional training working under Chef Paul Bartolotta at Chicago’s Spiaggia. He then travelled to Europe to work and train, focusing his time working under Valentino Marcattilii at San Domenico in Imola, Italy. Upon returning to Chicago, he was hired at the acclaimed restaurant Trio, where he worked alongside renowned chef, Grant Achatz (now Chef/proprietor of Alinea). He later returned to Europe to work with Heston Blumenthal at the celebrated 3-star restaurant, Fat Duck, in Bray, UK.

In 2005, he made the difficult and fateful decision to turn down the position of sous-chef at Alinea, choosing instead to rent out a small storefront owned by a longtime friend. This experiment birthed Chef Carlson’s now renowned restaurant, Schwa. His artful approach features presenting a diverse arsenal of ingredients in a relaxed, intimate setting. In 2006, he graced the cover of Food & Wine magazine as one of theBest New Chefs that year. In 2007, he won the Jean Banchet Award for rising chef of the year. In 2009, GQ magazine did a much talked about nine-page feature on Schwa and Chef Carlson; it’s cover touting Schwa as “The Most Revolutionary Restaurant In America.”

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I am going to Schwa this week, if I dont go to Girl & Goat instead.

 

Carlson needs a better writer for his website. This passage is especially cringe-worthy:

 

Chicagoland native Michael Carlson began his professional training working under Chef Paul Bartolotta at Chicago’s Spiaggia. He then travelled to Europe to work and train, focusing his time working under Valentino Marcattilii at San Domenico in Imola, Italy. Upon returning to Chicago, he was hired at the acclaimed restaurant Trio, where he worked alongside renowned chef, Grant Achatz (now Chef/proprietor of Alinea). He later returned to Europe to work with Heston Blumenthal at the celebrated 3-star restaurant, Fat Duck, in Bray, UK.

In 2005, he made the difficult and fateful decision to turn down the position of sous-chef at Alinea, choosing instead to rent out a small storefront owned by a longtime friend. This experiment birthed Chef Carlson’s now renowned restaurant, Schwa. His artful approach features presenting a diverse arsenal of ingredients in a relaxed, intimate setting. In 2006, he graced the cover of Food & Wine magazine as one of theBest New Chefs that year. In 2007, he won the Jean Banchet Award for rising chef of the year. In 2009, GQ magazine did a much talked about nine-page feature on Schwa and Chef Carlson; it’s cover touting Schwa as “The Most Revolutionary Restaurant In America.”

Are they even in the same league? Which did you pick?

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They are not at all similar, didnt mean to imply that they were. Just wanted a back-up to Schwa because it is so difficult to get a reservation (especially on a friday night), and I have not tried Girl & Goat.

 

We did get into Schwa on Friday night. It was definitely an experience. The place is like nowhere else I have been. No bar, no waiters, no host. It is tiny. The kitchen is as big as dining room. It is located in a non-descript, unlit, storefront on the outskirts of Wicker Park neighborhood. We had a multi-courser tasting menu, as that is your only option. We byo'd the wine as it does not have a liquor license. There were a couple of misfires in the line-up but the hits were homeruns. I left the menu at home, so I will post a more detailed review tomorrow.

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They are not at all similar, didnt mean to imply that they were. Just wanted a back-up to Schwa because it is so difficult to get a reservation (especially on a friday night), and I have not tried Girl & Goat.

 

We did get into Schwa on Friday night. It was definitely an experience. The place is like nowhere else I have been. No bar, no waiters, no host. It is tiny. The kitchen is as big as dining room. It is located in a non-descript, unlit, storefront on the outskirts of Wicker Park neighborhood. We had a multi-courser tasting menu, as that is your only option. We byo'd the wine as it does not have a liquor license. There were a couple of misfires in the line-up but the hits were homeruns. I left the menu at home, so I will post a more detailed review tomorrow.

Actually what both may have in common is the difficulty in getting reservations from what I hear. Ever since reading the GQ article Schwa has been on my must visit list. But then dare I say I'm a bit sceptical and hesitant. Needless to say I would hate to make the journey to Chicago only to get a cancellation call hour's before dinner. I am really interested in hearing your thoughts? Also any Michelin star predictions for next month? It seems opinions on how Schwa will be perceived by Michelin inspectors is all over the board.

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Going to Schwa is like going to your stoner buddy's house for dinner, but your buddy happens to be a culinary genius.

 

I like Schwa for 1 star, but wouldn't be shocked by 2 (even though the food is probably 3 when it's on).

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Going to Schwa is like going to your stoner buddy's house for dinner, but your buddy happens to be a culinary genius.

 

I like Schwa for 1 star, but wouldn't be shocked by 2 (even though the food is probably 3 when it's on).

Jean-Luc Naret was quoted on Grub Street as saying one of his three best meals this year was in Chicago. One other being Brooklyn Fare which was awarded 2 star's and likely surprised most this year. With Brooklyn Fare having a somewhat similar concept BYI, Chef serving guest,could Schwa be the 2 star Chicago shocker next month? May have been a hint and time will tell.

http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2010/10/michelins_jean-luc_naret_no_im.html

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How was your meal at schwa?

 

ə

 

 

This is now a clear trend driven by expensive but unskilled labor and by real estate costs. I'm sure some restaurant owners are losing sleep over it.

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Going to Schwa is like going to your stoner buddy's house for dinner, but your buddy happens to be a culinary genius.

 

I like Schwa for 1 star, but wouldn't be shocked by 2 (even though the food is probably 3 when it's on).

 

That is exactly the correct description. The kitchen staff who ran the food out to the tables could not have been nicer dudes, but they were not exactly the type you'd see working the floor at Charlie Trotter's. They admitted having not slept in two days because they did a private dinner for a well known hip-hop artist the night before and then closed the restaurant to go to his show and hang out all night. They were running on fumes. The soundtrack of hip-hop and speed metal was also a little . . . different. :lol: I forgot to bring the menu today, but it was not markedly different than what is on the website now. Highlights were the octopus with pineapple, taglietelle with huckleberries and veal hearts, quail egg raviolo with truffles, and the "biscuits and gravy". The roe dish was good, but not great. The only dish I did not really love was the s'mores, which was braised beef in chocolate mole with graham cracker dust and crema served over a bowl of smoke. Oh yeah, the corn soup was brilliant too.

 

I can't imagine Michelin will give this place more than one star because there is literally no service in line with what one expects in Europe. On the food alone, it is damn near, if not, three star.

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