April 13 2007 - 9:44 PM

Alinea gets all the attention. Alinea is a machine. The food seems analytical. It’s “tried and true” molecular gastronomy. At least that’s the feel I get. Though the food prep is very inflatable water slide similar, Schwa is totally different. Where Alinea is a Lincoln Park plush spot with no expense spared- from the valet to the two story restaurant design, to the immaculate stainless kitchen, Schwa is a BYOB semi-residential 12 table (or so) restaurant on Ashland. There are no black clad waiters. There’s no valet… actually parking kind of sucks. There is no bar, no coat room, no waitstaff. There is a team in the kitchen and they serve the food. They are serious about what they’re doing and they are enjoying the success. Alinea was rated the best restaurant in the country. Mark Carleson was one of Food and Wines best new chefs.

All this being said I had a crazy hard time getting a table. It’s hard to even get someone to call you back let alone pick up the phone. But I finally did and I had a blast.

BYOB for a 9-course is not easy.  A bottle of red and a bottle of white is a good bet but I had a little time on my hands and luckily brought an English brown ale, a couple hinchables of those silly cans of Sophia sparkling wine, a bottle of red that we didn’t open and a $3 bottle of Aussie sauvignon blanc. It did the trick.