It’s the long-awaited return of culinary duo John B. and Karen Shields—and they are making quite the re-entrance in Chicago’s culinary scene after almost a decade away. The married pair recently moved back to the city to unveil Smyth + The Loyalist in the West Loop, a respective restaurant and downstairs lounge that carries on their legacy of 30 years in the business. Food & Wine’s 2010 “Best New Chef” winner, John, worked as sous chef at Charlie Trotter’s and Alinea, and “Rising Star” Karen was head pastry chef at Charlie Trotter’s and sous pastry chef at Tru.
With Smyth, they have capitalized on the popular tasting menu concepts in Chicago by offering a regular eight-course and expanded 16-course menu to be enjoyed in an intimate 40-seat restaurant. Downstairs, The Loyalist offers classic cocktails and a smaller menu at a more affordable price point. Both spots offer private dining spaces and ingredients sourced from a 20-acre farm in Illinois, which further represents a sort of homecoming for the couple.
“It’s a chance to share a highly original, personal vision in the city that launched our careers,” says John. “We want to reimagine the expectations of a tasting menu experience by setting it in a relaxed, warm atmosphere—similar to our own home.”