Chicago is a stronghold of tasting-menu restaurants all nearly on par in their intellectual heft. At Smyth, husband and wife John Shields and Karen Urie Shields certainly show off brainpower through 12 courses that uniquely coalesce Japanese, Nordic, and Southern-American flavors and techniques. But their close relationship with a farm 20 miles south of the city in Bourbonnais, Illinois helps give Smyth’s cuisine a literal and spiritual grounding. I taste the honest Midwest in dishes like end-of-summer green gooseberries paired with uni. At the Loyalist downstairs, the duo apply their formidable know-how to the Americana fare, including killer biscuits with cheddar and what may be the most righteous cheeseburger in Chicago.
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