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Friday, December 8, 2023

Around the World

A trip to Schymik’s Kitchen doesn’t just lead diners to Haynie’s Corner, it also takes them on a global feast through dishes from most, if not all, continents. The diverse and curated menu is one of many unique aspects the new restaurant at 1112 Parrett St. is bringing to the area.

“We came up with what we thought was very different than anything Evansville had to offer,” says owner Scott Schymik. “I don’t know of a single place that does what we do here in town.”

The menu comprises about 25 different dishes of various sizes from small and larger plates to dips and spreads, all made to be shared. Dishes come to your table as they are ready, which Schymik says allows the kitchen to flow smoother than most restaurants. It also inspires an atmosphere of sharing and encourages customers to try new foods.

“It’s a pretty unique process where it’s almost a whole experience where you have food for 35 to 40 minutes coming to your table,” says Schymik. “They get to talk about the food. It’s more of an experience, not just ‘I want to go out and have a plate of spaghetti.’ It’s ‘I want to try eight different things today I probably haven’t had before.’ That’s what we can do here.”

Schymik isn’t a novice restaurateur. He opened his first restaurant, the Italian-American Sauced, five years ago. He certainly isn’t new to Haynie’s Corner. The Evansville native has worked in the neighborhood in the restaurant industry since 1996. Today, his two restaurants face each other across Parrett Street.

Since he was a kid, Schymik says he always wanted to have an Italian restaurant. After getting Sauced off the ground and when the opportunity arose to purchase the Victorian home that previously housed The Dapper Pig, it was a chance for him to branch out and try something new. Schymik’s Kitchen came together over seven months of construction, opening at the end of last year. In that time, the idea for the theme of the restaurant transformed as rapidly as the building.

At first the plan was to do a deli-style lunch spot, but as Schymik got his staff in place, the idea for a globally influenced tapas-style restaurant was solidified. Schymik’s Kitchen is helmed by chefs Everett Hale and Brent Jarvis, who each bring a unique vision to the menu.

While Hale is originally from the area, he started baking in the ’90s in Austin, Texas, before moving to Alaska where he helped open a wine bar with a concept similar to Schymik’s Kitchen. Hale’s background can be seen throughout the menu in the house-made naan that accompanies the feta mousse, kale pesto, smoked trout, and black lentil spreads. The menu truly is a collaboration, however, between Hale and Jarvis, who previously worked with Schymik at Sauced before moving to the new restaurant.

“It’s the food we want to eat, for sure,” says Jarvis. “I think that’s the driving force when we talk about menus. Scott gives us tons of freedom in that and trusts us with whatever we want to run.”

The menu at Schymik’s Kitchen is always changing, with a plan to introduce a new menu every few months. The restaurant currently is on its second menu iteration. This means Hale and Jarvis are always experimenting with new dishes. When working on a new menu, the two chefs write down all of their ideas and run with what excites them, riffing on each other’s recipes and dishes. While designing the second menu, Hale had an idea for smashed potatoes and Jarvis developed the idea into a dish — the smashed home fries with a bacon leek bechamel — that made the menu cut.

“Next thing I know it’s so much prettier than what I had imagined,” says Hale. “I’m just really excited about how he takes my ideas and does something completely different with them.”

One of the most popular items is the feta mousse, though the smoked trout spread also is a favorite. The fried Brussels and bleu is another dish that Reid Small, general manager of both Sauced and Schymik’s Kitchen, says he doesn’t see leaving the menu anytime soon.

“The smoked trout spread is outstanding,” says Small. “Smashed home fries and the shrimp steam buns — those are all awesome. The katsu tacos were — still kind of are — an obsession.”

The real beauty of the menu at Schymik’s Kitchen lies in the smaller size and shareability of each dish. Hale and Jarvis are able to take ingredients and components familiar to most customers and transform them into a new experience. The General Tso’s tofu takes the well-known flavors typically paired with chicken, but reimagines it with a crispy, fried tofu.

The katsu tacos are the perfect example of a twist on the Japanese dish of tonkatsu, a breaded tempura pork cutlet. At Schymik’s Kitchen, the panko-breaded and fried pork loin is served in a tortilla with Japanese-style slaw and tonkatsu sauce — a dish that may be unfamiliar to some served in an approachable way.

“Some of the techniques and things you’ll see at restaurants under a $20 special,” says Jarvis. “You’re like, ‘Well, that sounds cool, but I’ve never had it and I don’t want to invest my whole meal into this risk.’ Where when it’s broken down into this smaller portion like that, it makes the risk management a lot smaller for new, adventurous foods.”

“I love it when we have large groups here, because then you see them pretty much ordering the [whole] menu,” says Hale. “Them being excited about something is fun.”

Schymik’s Kitchen
Location: 1112 Parrett St.
Phone: 812-401-3333
Website: facebook.com/schymikskitchen
Dining Hours: 4:30-10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 4:30-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Adult Beverages: Yes
Prices: $5-$26
Payment: All major credit cards accepted

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