Chefs John and Karen Shields originally met while pursuing their individual culinary passions working for the renowned Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago where John was Sous Chef and Karen was Pastry Chef. The husband and wife team later took an opportunity to move to Virginia to redesign the Town House Restaurant that soon became world-renowned for imaginative flavors and ideas crafted from locally grown, foraged, and fresh ingredients. It was during their time in Virginia that the Shields’ found their true culinary voices and passions which they brought back to Chicago with them to open Smyth and The Loyalist in 2012.
Located on the ground floor of the North Ada Street location, Smyth is named after the time Chefs John and Karen Shields spent in the farm area of Smyth County, Virginia. It was here that the Shields’ found their true passion for developing inspired and delicious foods made from fresh, local, and pristine ingredients. The goal of the cuisine at Smyth is to create dishes that are full of flavor and imagination but are also humble in nature. The restaurant itself has a more casual feel with tables set around an open concept kitchen where guests can listen and watch the chefs as they work. Smyth offers only a tasting menu but what sets them apart is that this tasting menu is ever-changing; even to the point that it changes throughout dinner service when Chef Shields screams “Omaha!” informing staff that a change has been made to the menu. While the menu is constantly changing, guests can hope to enjoy some of the dishes that have made Smyth so famous such as Lobster Tail with Cherrywood and Black Malt which bursts with flavor and freshness. The Yeasted Donut is simple in nature yet delicious, a nod to the humble roots of Smyth. Finally, the tasting menu ends with a rich dessert such as the Salted Egg Tarte and a fresh option of Raspberries and Figs.
As with many restaurants in 2020, Smyth too needed to change its approach due to the COVID pandemic. Smyth began offering meal kits available for order on Tock which allows guests to create a five-course tasting menu in the comfort and safety of their own home. Contained within this meal kit could be short ribs, lobster tail, and dessert, and the instructions urge diners to even plate their dishes with precision. While this meal kit is not for the faint of heart, it is sure to create a lasting experience. Smyth has also reopened its doors to indoor dinner service once it was safe to do so, but still offers its meal kit and takeout options to this day.
Michelin 2 Star Rating
2020 Jean Banchet Restaurant of the Year
Chef Tony is a 42-year veteran of the food industry and is often known by his peers as “The New Product Guru.” Throughout his illustrious culinary career, he’s earned several notable titles and positions including Acquisition International’s “Most Influential Product Development Expert, U.S.” in 2019.
In 1997, Tony also founded Culinary Systems Inc., a group of culinary consultants that assist with culinary training, restaurant start-ups, concept development, and more. Since then, Tony and his team have generated over two billion dollars in sales for their clients in restaurants, retail, and manufacturing.
The strategic, technical, and culinary skills of Tony and his team can be seen on the menus of national chains, in the portfolio of national food manufacturers, and on the grocery shelves of products produced by major retail companies.