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Chef Power Couple's Smyth Restaurant Opens Friday in Fulton Market

By Stephanie Lulay | August 25, 2016 4:52pm
 Chefs John B. Shields and Karen Urie will open fine dining restaurant Smyth Friday in the West Loop.
Chefs John B. Shields and Karen Urie will open fine dining restaurant Smyth Friday in the West Loop.
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Smyth + The Loyalist

WEST LOOP — A chef power couple will debut the fine dining half of their stylish sister restaurants on Ada Street Friday. 

Executive chef John B. Shields and pastry chef Karen Urie Shields will open Smyth, the fine dining half of Smyth & The Loyalist, at 177 N. Ada St., Friday. The Loyalist, a restaurant and bar focused on rustic, seasonal fare and classic cocktails, opened earlier this month downstairs. 

The new Fulton Market restaurants mark the husband-and-wife culinary team's return home to Chicago after five years operating Town House and Riverstead Inn in the countryside of southwestern Virginia.

Smyth features a tasting menu concept and draws its name from the small Virginia county where they previously opened Town House. The Shields are working with an exclusive farm partner in downstate Bourbonnais to source much of the restaurant and lounge's produce, herbs and flowers.

The eight-course menu is priced at $135 with optional beverage pairings for $85. The tasting menu includes: 

• Sunchoke cannoli

•​ Smoked and dried beet, seasoned with scallops

•​ Tomato seawater with kasu cream

•​ Late summer melon, tender seeds, a bouillon of grilled radish

•​ A salad of duck and herbs with roasted squid stock

•​ Dungeness crab and foie gras with scrambled kani miso

•​ Aged carrot roasted with beef and brioche

•​ Slow cooked shoulder of lamb with kelp marmite

•​ Milk chocolate, huckleberries, and preserved shiitake mushroom

•​ Sage honey tart

•​ Egg yolk soaked in salted licorice with yogurt meringue

•​ Frozen tomato mousse, noyaux and spicy flowers

Frozen tomato mousse, noyaux and a sweet salad of stone fruit at Smyth. [Smyth & The Loyalist Facebook]

Beverage director Kelly Coughlin will curate the restaurant’s seasonal wine list and beverage pairings, highlighting producers that include Domaine Belluard and Johanneshoff Reinisch. Head bartender Roger Landes crafted a cocktail menu utilizing vintage spirits like Campari and other Italian liquors.

Later this year, Smyth plans to offer bar cart service tableside. 

Smyth is housed in an Ada Street building covered in lush ivy with a small garden out front. The upstairs space features floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed brick, custom lighting by ceramics artist Lilith Rockett and an open kitchen with wood-fire hearth. 

Both chefs were bred in Chicago. John worked as a sous chef at both Charlie Trotter's and Alinea and Karen worked at Charlie Trotter's — where she and John met — and at Tru.

In 2008, the couple turned down an offer to lead the opening of a Charlie Trotter restaurant in Las Vegas, opting to open their own restaurant in Virginia instead.

John, a native of Florida, was named a "Best New Chef" in 2010 by Food & Wine magazine and Karen was named a "Rising Star" by Star Chefs.

Smyth offers reservations via Tock. Tock reservations for the tasting menu experience are from 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. 

The Loyalist, which welcomes walk-ins, is open 4 p.m. to midnight Tuesdays-Thursdays and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 

The Shields announced they would open Smyth + The Loyalist on Ada Street in January. 

Another chef power couple, David and Anna Posey, also plan to open a restaurant in the West Loop this year. 

Chefs John B. Shields and Karen Urie return home to open Smyth & The Loyalist, a restaurant and lounge concept. [Smyth + The Loyalist]

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