Cue Carriage House, opening Tuesday to fill the void. Brought to you from the team behind The Bedford, it will allow executive chef Mark Steuer to cook the cuisine he grew up with in South Carolina.
The Players: A dynamic duo is stationed in the kitchen and behind the bar. Chef Mark Steuer who has been working as executive chef of The Bedford is familiar with Wicker Park, while mixologist Michael Simon, a recent acquisition from Acadia, got his feet wet at The Bedford before taking on Carriage House’s cocktail program.
The Look: Taking inspiration from the traditional carriage houses common in The South (they were once used as track rooms, storage areas or kitchens but now serve as guest lodging or garages), the décor is a mix of Sothern charm mixed with urban flourishes. White walls lined with ceramic tiles are adorned with mirrors. Recovered window frames hang above the open kitchen on a deep teal wall. This color is reflected in metal chairs that sit at heavy wood tables. The inside seats 100, and another 40 seats are available outside in a flowerbox-enclosed patio.
The Food: Channeling Steuer’s Southern roots, the cuisine – like the décor – combines Lowcountry fare with modern techniques. The menu is divided into traditional and re-imagined plates, with larger entrées categorized under “supper.” Start with the skillet cornbread served with foie gras butter, nectarine marmalade and bourbon-smoked salt. Next move onto some fried chicken leg with bread-and-butter pickles. For a feast of Southern eats go for the Lowcountry boil with Carolina shrimp, clams, rabbit sausage, corn potatoes and grilled lemon. End on a sweet note with pear cobbler in a gingerbread crust served with sweet cream.
The Drinks: Simon has created an equally easy-going beverage menu to match the food, focusing on teas and punches along with well as whiskey and rum-based cocktails (the beverages are also divided into traditional and reimagined categories). The classic cocktails include “Lion’s Tail” with Bulleit bourbon, lime, allspice dram and Angostura bitters; while the contemporary include the Chartreuse Phosphate with green and chartreuse, yellow chartreuse, Dimmi, anise, mint and acid phosphate. In addition to cocktails a boutique wine program and ten-deep beer list are available.
The Details: 1700 W. Division Ave.; 773-384-9700