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Oct 8, 2007 11:01 AM

Schwa-- closed until further notice?

I just received a voicemail saying that my reservation for this wednesday had to be canceled as the restaurant was "closed until further notice"-- does anyone know anything about this?

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  1. Nope - but I can confirm we just got the same call. Coming in from Toronto, we were very much looking forward to trying it :( Anyone have any good substitute recs?

    1. Got bumped last Friday for the Trotter bash thing, and when I called this afternoon to reschedule he said they are closing till further notice.


      Ben Reiner: nothing can be a substitute, but a personal favorite is May Street Market.

      May Street Market
      1132 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

      1. Schwa has closed.

        May Street Market is one of my favorites as well.

        If you want something more on the lines of Schwa, you might consider that chef's tasting menu at Avenues.

        1. Yeah, I had heard that was the case. Honestly, the food had taken a severe turn toward molecular gastronomy last time I was there and it was nothing like the original food I fell in love with. Still sad.

          Unfortunately, all of the spots that serve similar high falootin fare require reservations far in advance...Tru, Alinea, and the like.

          One of my favorite tasting menu spots that often has reservations available on short notice is Copperblue. Amazing food influenced by the cuisine and wines of southern Spain, Italy, and France. Can't say enough good stuff about the place.

          If you were looking for great food, but BYOB, like Schwa was, you might try Terragusto.
          The food is fantastic, but service is really weird. They try and slam you with your food all at once unless you come to terms with your server. Closed on Mondays. Honestly great food though and perfect with a variety of Italian wines.

          Otherwise, I just love the following for special occasion dining:
          Les Nomades - French
          Blackbird - Paul Kahn is possibly my favorite chef in Chicago
          Spring - Shawn McClains Asian/Seafood concept
          Custom House - Shawn McClains south loop spot with a focus on meat dishes

          12 Replies
          1. re: chicagowinediva

            Thanks for the recs chicagowinediva! Wak - I was thinking Avenues seemed the most similar (food-wise, not ambience) based on pictures of plates posted various places.

            We managed to snag a reservation to Alinea our last trip here so I'll be forever content having been able to experience it. We were thinking of Tru, Blackbird and Avenues. Custom House is actually at the hotel where we're staying and looks terrific except I think I'll want to get out of the hotel for dinner.

            Copperblue and Terragusto are completely new to me so I'm going to see if I can find menus for them now.

            1. re: Ben Reiner

              Copperblue was voted best new restaurant in Chicago by Chicago Magazine either last year or two years ago. Wine list is very fairly priced as well. If you decide on Terragusto and need to bring your own wine, I would suggest shopping at Sam's Wine & Spirits before hand. They have the best Italian selection in the city I think.

              1. re: Ben Reiner

                Avenues is not quite as adventurous as Schwa, a little more mainsteam, but honestly I liked the food there more than Schwa, although I am very sad to see Schwa go. There was really nothing like that experience and while some were apparaently turned off by it, I found it one of the more amazing food experiences of my life.

                At any rate, Avenues is much more Schwaish than Tru or Blackbird. One recommendation I would have, if this is of interest to you, is to eat at the kitchen bar. There is a bar that overlooks the kitchen where you can watch the food being prepared and actually talk to the cooking staff as they walk by. I sat at a normal table when I went and it was fine, but next time I'll eat at the bar. Maybe not the thing for a romantic evening, but perfect for the food obessed.

                Another nice thing about Avenues is the wine pairings for the chefs menu. There is just no way to find one or two wines that really pair well with all ten courses of the meal, so while you will pay for it, I recommend it. Obviously Schwa has (had) no such option.

                The only other option I can think of is Moto, but I have not been there so can't comment. Much more in the experimental molecular gastronomy realm.

                FYI - some photos of a past meal at Avenues from another web site:

                1. re: wak

                  Glad to hear you like the food so much at Avenues. We've got reservations there. We'll consider the pairings but price will probably dictate. Do you recall the cost of the tasting menus there including wine pairings? Ideally we'd like to do the middle one. Thanks for the advice about the kitchen bar - we'll inquire when we get there - safe to say that my wife and I are food-obsessed :)

                  1. re: Ben Reiner

                    Ben, whether you do the pairings at Avenues or not, I would highly recommend letting the sommelier, Aaron something (Elliot?) guide you. He is a phenomenal guy, and each of the pairings he gave me and my two dining companions was spot on. Seriously, the most enjoyable wine and food experience of my life. Believe it or not, on food & drink alone I enjoyed it more than French Laundry. The overall experience is a discussion for elsewhere. Suffice to say, you'll have a great time at Avenues.

                    1. re: mailsf

                      There aren't really pairings per se at Avenues. They will reccomend certain glasses with certain sets of courses, but it's not a one for one pairing.

                      That said, it was a pretty solid experience. One of the better upscale restaurants in Chicago for sure.

                      1. re: jpschust

                        They did have one for one pairing when I went there - for the chefs tasing menu at least. Not sure about the other menus.

                        1. re: wak

                          The chef's tasting menu is what we had as well, they specifically told us that they didn't have set pairings to it but they would bring us glasses from their glass list to group with certain groups of courses.

                          1. re: jpschust

                            Who knows. This was back in May. It was a real wine pairing - with a new wine for each course. Maybe things have changed. Too bad if that is the case since there were some great wines. They wrote out a list of all the wines at the end of the meal that I still have sitting around somewhere.

                            1. re: wak

                              Our experience was on 9/28, but I really would hope they'd go back to what you're describing!

                      2. re: mailsf

                        Thanks, mailsf. No worries there - I will happily let him guide us one way or the other and if the pairings aren't too crazily priced I would love to do them. Chef Bowles seems like an affable chap - I have instant respect for chefs who are willing to get out there on food message boards as he does- so I'm pretty confident it will be an amazing experience. Also, I like this sorta stuff...


                      3. re: Ben Reiner

                        The ten course meal with wine pairings was about $350 per person including tip/tax. Not sure about pricing of the other options.

                2. There is talk that Schwa will be re-opening before the end of the year. It's supported by the ad placed today on craigslist at

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    Clicked on your link and for some reason, was mis-directed (not sure if this is a Chowhound error or what) but also noticed a similar link on LTH for the Craigslist link:

                    This is very good news.

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      Hooray! I can't wait to go back. It was by far my favorite Chicago restaurant...