**** (4 stars)
Smyth is in the same class as Next, Oriole and Alinea. That’s some tough competition. The space is gorgeous, with a quiet but open kitchen along the back, and a large open dining room. The soundtrack is great, and at just the right level. So I’d rate it above the cramped Next, rustic, Oriole and stuffy Alinea.
Service was terrific. Each course was presented by a different chef, and the wine pairings were presented by a very personable sommelier. Front desk staff was also very welcoming, making the whole experience quite pleasant.
It’s the food that doesn’t quite live up to those competitors. True, you never know what you’re going to get at Next, but at Oriole and Alinea you can rely upon every component of every dish blending together in eye opening perfection. That was not the case here.
This is definitely a menu for adventurous eaters, with courses such as duck tongue presented two ways.
There were certainly some excellent individual components in the various courses (of which there were more than a dozen, counting the amuse bouches). But no single course every quite came together seamlessly. The Squab was delicious, but not improved by its accompaniments, the puree on which the lamb sat was exquisite, but the very vinegary black garlic sauce clashed, and an egg yolk and cream dessert would have been just as good without the egg.
The first few wines (of nine) in the pairing were a bit out there, but the latter wines were better than the pairings at the above mentioned restaurants, and an amaro went particularly well with one of the desserts.
For a restaurant open only a few weeks I was very impressed by Smyth. At over $500 for two people with the wine pairings, tax and gratuity I think it’s fair to expect a bit more, and I imagine that given a bit of time they will deliver on that promise.
177 North Ada St
Chicago, IL 60607