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Scylla retooled

Scylla retooled
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  • Scylla retooled

    Post #1 - February 6th, 2007, 1:42 pm
    Post #1 - February 6th, 2007, 1:42 pm Post #1 - February 6th, 2007, 1:42 pm
    Has anyone been to Scylla since the chef revamped the menu? I'm going next week and would welcome recommendations.
  • Post #2 - February 6th, 2007, 10:02 pm
    Post #2 - February 6th, 2007, 10:02 pm Post #2 - February 6th, 2007, 10:02 pm
    We have! and it was wonderful food!

    Sorry. meant to post sooner.

    To start we were served fresh bread with herb infused olive oil (nice overtones of rosemary, garlic, thyme and ancho chiles).

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    For appetizers we had the skate wing (served with pork belly, fingerling potatoes, greens and quail egg in a maple jus. the Maple jus was a little too breakfasty, but the skate was wonderfully crisp and delicious white flesh). Just rescue the skate quickly from the sauce.

    ImageImage

    We also had the scallops over braised chard with smoked pear puree. The scallops were lovely moist and meaty. If there was no pork in the pear puree, I need to start smoking fruit, cause there was a lovely bacony smoky taste to the greens.

    For entrees we had a lamb sirloin (served with roasted grapes and curried cauliflower and brussels sprouts, and pinenuts). There was *almost* too much going on in this dish but I loved both the sweet bites as much as the curried veggie ones.

    ImageImage

    Our final dish was a short rib over escarole with roasted onions and an amazing gorgonzola bread pudding. Served in huckleberry/bordelaise reduction. The short rib was a boneless hunk of deliciously soft beef. Melt in your mouth tender. Gorgonzola bread pudding was an excellent foil. This dish worked completely.

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    The only negative was the incessant loud thumping of the dance/remix "music" played throughout our meal. We were early on a Friday night. The only folks in the place for a bit, and we couldn't hear ourselves think or have a pleasant conversation.

    I am not a fan of the "club scene/too hip for you" vibe. Can't they just be a wonderful restaurant? The food was excellent, and I admire the chef's adventurous combinations and skill with not only seafood, but also interesting meats. Unfortunately, the pounding music will make me try somewhere else instead of putting this in a frequent rotation.

    We enjoyed the new menu concept though. Its supposed to be less heavy on seafood, and also more accessible in pricing. There was still enough seafood on there that you could still consider this a good destination for non meat eaters.

    Pricing was around 6-10 ish for apps, and 12-18 for entrees.
    We were full with two apps and two entrees (just enough room for an after dinner beer at Map Room).

    One more side note:
    Toward the end of our meal, another couple was seated in the attic with us. I could have sworn I heard the woman refer to the game "seven degrees of bacon" -- I have never heard it called that!
    (I am more accustomed to six/seven degrees TO kevin bacon).

    Maybe I misheard, but wouldn't that be a great concept for a meal?

    mmmm
    seven degrees of bacon
  • Post #3 - February 11th, 2007, 6:38 am
    Post #3 - February 11th, 2007, 6:38 am Post #3 - February 11th, 2007, 6:38 am
    Went last night-as noted above-food is as good as ever. Menu was very interesting-had that lamb mentioned above and all of the many components were perfect, others had the trout with fennel and bagna cauda, and the shortribs-moans of pleasure all around. There was a paella-risotto "pasta" course with mussels, squid, crawfish and chorizo that was super tasty, and a nice pappardelle dish with shrimp, quince and celeryroot cream. Marinated olives, lump crab salad over brioch with sunchoke soup, lobster-mushroom soup and 3 desserts rounded out this perfect dining experience. Holy crap-there were only 3 of us.
    Service was perfect, and there was no intrusive music (maybe someone complained). My single unvoiced complaint was tepid tea. (Can't stand it, but I couldn't introduce any negative energy to this experience.)
    I hope that this place is doing better than before on the weeknights-since the prices have dropped people should be busting the door down.
    Really can't say enough good things about Scylla-even if you don't care for sweet mixed with savory (like me) just get over there. The fruity elements on the main menu are subtle and effective.
    I don't mean to sound like a P.R. agent here, but there are few places at this level of dining that I feel this strongly about. (For the record-been here about 6 times, never asked to meet Ms. Izard, and am not receiving any "regular customer" treatment.)
    I love animals...they're delicious!
  • Post #4 - February 13th, 2007, 9:04 pm
    Post #4 - February 13th, 2007, 9:04 pm Post #4 - February 13th, 2007, 9:04 pm
    A new menu can signal trouble at a restaurant, but I thought the re-tooled Scylla was excellent. The menu is slightly larger, slightly cheaper and just as inventive.

    I started with this grilled octopus with some prosciutto, Peruvian white beans and pomegranate thrown into the mix. Nine bucks will buy you a lot of octopus at Scylla.

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    The prosciutto added a bit of a salty kick, while the white beans were larger and firmer than any others I've seen. I thought I was eating small potatoes for the first half of the dish. The pomegranate added a sweetness that was unusual and really nice.

    Much as I loved the octopus, my boyfriend's lobster-mushroom stracciatella soup was mind-blowingly good.

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    The new menu offers a strong array of pastas, but I stayed true to the seafood and enjoyed the phenomenal mix of flavors and textures with this Arctic char dish.

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    It comes atop a bed of caramelized sunchokes, red grapefruit and green olives. The almond streusal topping was what made the dish exceptional in my eyes. Almond toppings on seafood is no big news, but this was like a tiny bit if dessert on top of a fish...and I loved it.

    Our server told us that the short ribs mentioned above have been flying out of the restaurant.

    I vacillate between hoping Scylla consistently draws a crowd, and selfishly not wanting them to become super crowded.
  • Post #5 - February 14th, 2007, 3:21 pm
    Post #5 - February 14th, 2007, 3:21 pm Post #5 - February 14th, 2007, 3:21 pm
    I made it to Scylla last night, despite the weather, and it definitely lived up to the accolades.

    My friend and I made easy work of the goat cheese bavoroise and beet starter (almost a goat cheese mousse, with paper-thin slices of red and yellow beets); seared scallops with chard and pear compote; gnocchi w/squash, mushrooms, and pecans; and the shortrib and arctic char entrees mentioned above. We each had two glasses of wine, and the grand total -- including tax and tip -- was just $60 apiece.

    The atmosphere was warm and inviting on such a cold night. We were filled to bursting after dinner and couldn't manage dessert, but we'll save room next time.

    This was my best meal so far of 2007, and it didn't hurt that the price was so reasonable. Thanks to everyone for their recommendations.
  • Post #6 - February 14th, 2007, 3:24 pm
    Post #6 - February 14th, 2007, 3:24 pm Post #6 - February 14th, 2007, 3:24 pm
    I'm really pleased to hear positive reports about the re-tooled Scylla. I ate there once and liked it, but never found myself rushing back. I think now, there's reason enough to add it back to the "to try" list.

    Thanks for the reports.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #7 - February 14th, 2007, 3:40 pm
    Post #7 - February 14th, 2007, 3:40 pm Post #7 - February 14th, 2007, 3:40 pm
    Ate there Saturday night...article coming out next week in Newcity, but in the meantime, I agree with all of the above, great experience, Skate with pork belly was nice , braised short ribs with blue cheese bread pudding and I'm still dreaming of the shallot custard...and best of all the prices are accessible (well relatively speaking anyway).
    MJN "AKA" Michael Nagrant
    http://www.michaelnagrant.com
  • Post #8 - April 23rd, 2007, 8:07 am
    Post #8 - April 23rd, 2007, 8:07 am Post #8 - April 23rd, 2007, 8:07 am
    I made my first trip to Scylla this weekend and will definitely be back. My party had an early reservation on Friday and we were seated in the upstairs dining room. The food was delicious - I had the scallops. The winner at the table was the lamb sirloin dish - they've updated the accompaniments from those described in earlier posts. Service was friendly and they have toned down the music - it was at a comfortable volume during my visit.
  • Post #9 - May 14th, 2007, 9:37 am
    Post #9 - May 14th, 2007, 9:37 am Post #9 - May 14th, 2007, 9:37 am
    Image

    When I ate at Scylla almost two years ago, I wrote a typically discursive, in-depth report, only to have G Wiv nail exactly what the vibe was in two lines:

    Grilled baby octopus w/watermelon balsamic glazed watermelon/shaved red onion/fresh mint/pecorino cheese was good, but needed a few more 'cool/hip' ingredients. Maybe they could borrow mission figs or basil gelee from another dish.


    and

    restaurants such as Scylla are where chefs... who are just out of the umbrella of an established restaurant... test both ideas and boundaries. In other words at Scylla, by design, the staff, both front and back of the house, are ever so slightly out of their depth.


    Both of those things suggested to me that Scylla was likely to be short-lived, a trendy Bucktown step in its chef's path to bigger and more assured things, quickly only a memory like Okno or Mod or the previous tenant in its building, Glory. Somewhat surprisingly, instead it has lasted and the reviews, here and elsewhere, suggested that chef Stephanie Izard has come into her own from the early days when, based on my meal then, I felt she had an eye for interesting combinations and striking flavors which only worked about half the time.

    The food at Scylla seems more solid and assured now-- but unfortunately, I felt like a lot of the excitement and experimentation was gone. Her food doesn't seem to be about wow flavors, more about subtle harmonies, but where the earlier part of the meal delivered on that quite impressively, the later dishes, even dessert, seemed like bland country-club food, extremely capably prepared, but restrained to the point of dullness. In the end, I missed the uneven Scylla of two years ago for at least trying more novel things than we had.

    I don't normally order big pink drinks like the ones above but the idea of a strawberry-basil cocktail brought back memories of a basil gelato I'd liked there the other time. This seemed to promise the same sort of meal ahead-- strawberry puree and vodka with just a slight tomato-juice note introduced by the hint of basil in the puree. My wife's was a pomegranate cocktail.

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    We started, somewhat unusually, by picking from the middle of the menu (things which could be either appetizer or entree sized) for a starter. She had a risotto with roasted grape tomatoes (making the most of a middling winter foodservice ingredient), shiitakes, vidalias and "English pea pistou," a description which evoked G Wiv's menu-trendiness comment above. Very nice in a subtle, veggie-woodsy way. I had baby octopi stuffed with wild boar sausage, which likewise I ordered mainly because the description was so over the top. It was terrific, the strongest-flavored and the best thing we had all evening-- although it introduced something I would notice more of later: the use of potato to self-defeatingly damp down the flavors of many of the dishes.

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    Since the portions were on the smallish side, we worked backwards to soup and salad from here. She had a lump crab salad atop a savory fennel creme brulee (but of course!), which was easily the other best dish of the night, beautifully proportioned contrasts of flavors like fennel, aspargus, preserved lemon. I went for a lobster bisque with a potato-sweet onion base-- and would that it had tasted of onion, or much of anything, rather than be smothered by the pillow of potato flavor.

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    We both went for seafood entrees, remembering that that had once been Scylla's specialty, though now I wish one of us had tried a meat dish for contrast. My wife had diver scallops with (alleged) serrano ham, white asparagus, goat cheese-yukon puree, and sorrel vinaigrette. As Pauline Kael said of a movie once, "It's well made. You're also in no danger of becoming overexcited."

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    I had pan-fried trout with the almond streusel mentioned above on top, kind of dried-out-seeming lump cab meat below, asparagus and preserved lemon and three very out of place and confused blueberries scattered about. This was like a dish on Gordon Ramsay's show, not one where he rips it apart and screams at people, but close to the end where he takes something that's almost working and starts tearing it apart, challenging them to really taste it and figure out what is and isn't working, lose the fookin' blueberries, do something about the fookin' Grape Nuts on top of the fish, get more of the fookin' preserved lemon in there so they taste some in every bite because that's what makes the fookin' dish work, mate.

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    Dessert had been a highlight then but it wasn't much of one last night, alas. Hers was the chocolate gianduja above, a bit heavy but at least interesting. Mine was the "sundae" (no idea why that's in quotes on the "menu") consisting of three homemade ice creams-- and memories of basil gelato vanished as I was treated to very standard chocolate mousse, vanilla pecan and, with only the tiniest hint of an unusual flavor, vanilla with ground sesame seeds in it. (Tahini ice cream?) We might as well have gone to Margie's afterwards.

    Service, which had been memorably snooty and inept two years ago, was much better, although the host handled a request for a better table clumsily ("Hey, you can see the whole room, that's what we got") and we were subtly, but quite unmistakably, being pushed along to enable them to turn the table for the night. (I accept that this always happens when you dine early, but I want to be allowed the illusion it isn't happening.) As far as recommending dishes went, the waitress scored with pointing me to the strawberry-basil drink and the calamari, fumbled with the lobster soup (though I guess I could have read more into the fact that her response began with "A lot of people order that"). A recommended wine (a summery French muscatel) was decent, Jazzfood brought a ten times better bottle in the same vein to TAC the other night, but it was also only $7 a glass, so I give them points for not taking the opportunity to stick us there. Overall, if still not the most polished place in the world, it is vastly improved over my comical experience two years ago.
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  • Post #10 - July 5th, 2007, 9:23 am
    Post #10 - July 5th, 2007, 9:23 am Post #10 - July 5th, 2007, 9:23 am
    Heather Shouse reports inThe TOC Blog this week, that Scylla will close on September 1.

    We told you guys to eat there. We raved about how fantastic chef-owner Stephanie Izard’s food at Scylla is, how the girl can cook seafood like nobody’s business and how the quaint little A-frame house on Damen Avenue is quite the spot for a tete-a-tete. But apparently not enough of you eat there on a regular basis, so Izard is opting to pack up Scylla to take a break from the dog-eat-dog restaurant biz.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #11 - July 5th, 2007, 10:02 am
    Post #11 - July 5th, 2007, 10:02 am Post #11 - July 5th, 2007, 10:02 am
    Sad news indeed-a true gem. Too bad the restaurant business equation is not good food=success.
    I love animals...they're delicious!
  • Post #12 - July 5th, 2007, 10:03 am
    Post #12 - July 5th, 2007, 10:03 am Post #12 - July 5th, 2007, 10:03 am
    so sad... hopefully she will reopen elsewhere, this is one of my favorite restaurants! :(
  • Post #13 - July 5th, 2007, 10:17 am
    Post #13 - July 5th, 2007, 10:17 am Post #13 - July 5th, 2007, 10:17 am
    We've only been to Scylla once...after the menu revamp...and we loved our meal. So sad to hear it's closing (figmolly says, "especially since it's a woman chef."). Should we organize an LTH dinner there before the end?
    Justin Hall
    FIG Catering
    FIGcatering.com
    MMMMM, Moon Waffles.
  • Post #14 - July 5th, 2007, 10:25 am
    Post #14 - July 5th, 2007, 10:25 am Post #14 - July 5th, 2007, 10:25 am
    In the interest of finding a bright side to this sad news...

    From the same TOC blog entry...

    The decision was solidified when chef Takashi Yagihashi offered to buy the restaurant off of Izard for his new venture, which should be his big-deal return to Chicago after earning raves as head toque of Michigan’s critically acclaimed Tribute and Okada at Wynn Las Vegas.


    It will be sad to lose Scylla, but I'm pretty excited about what will take its place.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #15 - July 5th, 2007, 11:51 am
    Post #15 - July 5th, 2007, 11:51 am Post #15 - July 5th, 2007, 11:51 am
    We ate there with a party of five on June 8, and there was something "not up to snuff" compared with earlier visits, which seemed weird to me at the time but now makes sense. There was something just a little inexplicably hostile in the service, a mediocrity in the food, a vibe that said decay instead of life. All the opposite of the last times we were there. I think the staff must have had inklings of what was to come.
  • Post #16 - July 13th, 2007, 10:40 am
    Post #16 - July 13th, 2007, 10:40 am Post #16 - July 13th, 2007, 10:40 am
    Devastating news from a Metromix blogger:

    Noodlin' around with Scylla...

    Link to Metromix Blog article.
  • Post #17 - July 13th, 2007, 11:26 am
    Post #17 - July 13th, 2007, 11:26 am Post #17 - July 13th, 2007, 11:26 am
    I definitely wouldn't say "devastating." I actually look forward to something new in that location.

    After having had a great dinner at Scylla a couple years ago, a group of us tried it again three weeks ago. We left satiated but certainly not overly impressed. It was good, but far from great. Definitely didn't warrant a return trip.
  • Post #18 - July 13th, 2007, 11:31 am
    Post #18 - July 13th, 2007, 11:31 am Post #18 - July 13th, 2007, 11:31 am
    Ralph Wiggum wrote:I definitely wouldn't say "devastating." I actually look forward to something new in that location.

    After having had a great dinner at Scylla a couple years ago, a group of us tried it again three weeks ago. We left satiated but certainly not overly impressed. It was good, but far from great. Definitely didn't warrant a return trip.

    I wouldn't really call it "news" at this point, either, since TOC reported it over a week ago, as was posted above.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

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