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Schwa - 2014-10-08

by Foodbitch 12. October 2014 21:15

If, instead of architecture, Howard Roark opened a fine restaurant, he probably would run it exactly as Michael Carlson chooses to run Schwa. And in that vein, is it fitting that a restaurant that grudgingly tolerates its customers be consigned to an exile so permanent from Chicago’s dining mainstream? Perhaps. But not by me. I give Schwa a perfect score.

Dining out at Schwa is a production. Like Apple Store prayer-gatherings, U2 concerts and a dear-departed emporium of encased meat, Schwa is a hallowed ground where the laws of supply and demand are simply put on hold. But if one is prepared to hold one’s tongue and thus one’s long-held food opinions, one can feast on some of dining’s brightest creativity. And so we did.

When a perfect is awarded to something/someone that is clearly lacking, lots of people wish to fight. MS is much more about service than about food. This is true. And the service at Schwa will leave much to be desired…IF one arrives with hopes of four-star dining. But if the reservation process fails to convince one of the error, the dining room surely must. Or no? In my effort of persuasion, please look up one of the 10,000 Mike Tyson training/sparring/fighting videos available online.

Having watched him hit something...be it heavy bag or 6-foot-6 opponent, is it possible to argue that Mr. Tyson isn’t perfect for his role? I suppose. Given the countless benchwarmers who invoke Ali (if only he were younger), or De La Hoya (if only he weighed in), or that guy who grills indoors (if only he lost weight), I am shocked that Mr. Tyson is spoken of with reverence at all. And it’s sad but true that folk who dare not look or sound the part are overlooked with shocking frequency in the books of greatness. I have been guilty of this often and as a result of this experience, will strive to be less so? How about you? Must you learn from your own mistakes or can you learn from those of others?

The menu and the dining pictures are attached. YES...the quail egg ravioli is THAT good. YES, the chocolate dish/container is creative beyond taste. YES, you should bring a bottle for the kitchen. And NO, your trip won’t be a waste.

Our bottle choices are attached as well. Given the occasion (can’t ask for the female’s help – it’s her birthday) and my utter lack of wino-knowledge, I was forced to rely on labels and prices. I wish I could rely on memory but alcohol has a strange way of dealing with those neurons.

 

In closing, I must write a parable for those who give no care for boxing or Mr. Tyson, or toxic personalities in business. But if you’ve read even one of his great books then you can know: I never had the pleasure of knowing Christopher Hitchens in person. Despite his towering intellect and thesaurus-worth vocabulary, he always struck me as a little bitch. A fact he owned given that his email was: hitchbitch@vf.com. I read, and loved, every word of prose he’d ever written and yet I know that if we ever “hung-out” we would have disliked each other intensely. Schwa is the Hitchens of fine dining. I let this fact deter me for a near decade. May the above serve as argument to persuade you otherwise.






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Umami Burger - 2014-09-28

by Foodbitch 3. October 2014 20:38

When it comes to meat slabs between buns, Chicago can be a judge without much mercy. I was a participant in this elitist game we’ve played for near-2 decades. After eating at Umami Burger, I apologize for my behavior, and wish that you’d learn from my mistakes.

In a city filled with meat, Umami Burger is a star that shines quite brightly.  I arrived at UB against my will because, clearly, I am too good for chain-store burgers. When I departed I was full, but no longer of myself. Au Cheval, Kuma’s, In n’ out, and yes…despite their grotesque price increase: Portillo’s. These are the burgers of my life. I wish that I can tell you that Umami pales in comparison. I really want to. But I can’t. If your preferred temperature is rare, you will appreciate the BUB. It’s two patties (or fatties) that taste like they added extra MSG. I can’t remember a burger that I’ve had that’s better. Even though my sample size has been decreased with much advancing age, I used to eat burgers on a daily basis. I know of what I speak.

This will be the shortest review you’ve read from MS in quite a while. Not because I lack vocabulary to describe the wonders that were eaten but because I mostly focus on experience. That part they are still trying to get right. One would think that a chain with many outposts would know to stem the tide of certain growing pains. Perhaps they choose not to. I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: that two patties joined on a bun and I ate the both with little try and…you should get the truffle fries too. Amazing.






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About the author

FB is the CTO of an entertainment company and, these days, writes much more in prose than he ever wrote in code. Which is a good thing. Because people expect quality from code. Meal me: mealschpeal@gmail.com.

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