Former Charlie Trotter Alums and Chefs John and Karen Shields opened their first Chicago restaurant in the West Loop neighborhood. The dual-concept Smyth + The Loyalist features a tasting menu, finer dining restaurant (Smyth) with 40 seats upstairs with a more casual, 80-seat restaurant and bar (The Loyalist) downstairs.
The restaurant building, covered in ivy, features a small garden out front sprouting herbs and edible flowers. The upstairs space boasts floor to ceiling windows with exposed brick and rich wood ceilings, flanked by oriental rugs, plush seating, an antique butler’s pantry and warm lighting for a comforting, homey feel. A massive open kitchen, taking up almost half of the room, connects guests with the chefs creating their meal and showcases a signature wood-fire hearth as well as an uncommonly large pastry station for Chef Karen Urie Shields to create the restaurant’s desserts. The room features custom lighting from ceramics artist Lilith Rockett who was also commissioned to create plates and bowls for the restaurant.
For The Loyalist downstairs, intrigued by old English bars, the Shields worked with L.A.-based designer and architect Michael Francis to transform the garden-level basement into a moody, modern pub of sorts with bar stools and lounge seating for enjoying cocktails and microbrews.
Smyth, with an eight-course menu and optional beverage pairing, draws its name from the small Virginia county in which the Shields opened Town House, and its menu reflects that same dedication to the integrity of an ingredient as well as seasonality, working closely with a local farm in Bourbonnais, Ill., to source most of the ingredients.