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First Look: The Bedford Uses Original 1920s Bank Materials for Design Buildout

The old vault entrance
The old vault entrance

It takes someone with a good eye to realize their fortune when rehabbing an old building and can utilize reclaimed materials to build-out their new project. Fortunately, the team behind The Bedford saw the virtual gold mine they were sitting on when they started planning their sub-grade restaurant in the former MB Bank Building, a historic edifice that dates back to the 1920s.

With different types of marble, limestone, original crown molding, terrazzo flooring and even safe deposit boxes, the Bedford is taking what was once old and making it new again. The approximately 6,500 square-foot restaurant is scheduled to open in early May and when it does, people will likely be as amazed by former Hot Chocolate and The Gage chef Mark Steuer's food as they will be by the design.

Walking in off Division Street, guests will be greeted by a small lounge area backed by a LED puck-light wall and walk under original art as they descend the stairs into the main bar area. Here, a 40-foot-long bar sits on one side while a vault opens up into a lounge containing original copper safe deposit boxes, thousands of them. Unfortunately, it's pretty much under wraps, so we can't show you a picture of it, but it's going to be really cool.

One wall of the bar features a mosaic wall made from reclaimed black marble from the bank's main level. The opposite wall features facades of silver safe deposit boxes. In between? Modern wood, beautiful limestone and a new (made-to-look original) peek-a-boo fireplace. The bar comprises hi-top tables, communal seating and some smaller tables. A couple of steps will take you up to an elevated platform with wood flooring, four to five large booths and a DJ station all in front of a wall comprising silver safe deposit box fronts.

The room that the fireplace peeks into, the "living room," holds the former entrance to the vault, which the team kept intact, including the bronze clock that sits atop the glass wall (a new clock will be installed). Original crown molding graces the ceiling and gorgeous terrazzo flooring appears throughout the space. Women will clamber to get into the bathroom, not because they'll drink too much, but because the parlor is going to be stunning. The larger parlor room has original exposed brick mixed with gold and black patterned wallpaper that leads into the bathroom, where private banking booth walls and doors were used for the stalls (sorry guys, you'll have to be satisfied with the tiny bathroom planned for you; don't worry: Cool design elements exist there, too).

The team wants the Bedford to be a local neighborhood joint that caters to the locals with an upscale vibe. As we learned from Time Out Chicago, the menu will feature small plates and larger share plates navigable by a few categories, including "From the Soil," "From the Sea" and "From the Pasture." Steuer will enlist some friends like Mindy Segal (Hot Chocolate) and Jessie Oloroso (Black Dog Gelato) to create special desserts and ice cream.

If you're looking to sample some of Steuer's food before May, look for him on the Southern Mac & Cheese Truck this week. On Tuesday, his kase spaetzle, a pork belly, creamy gruyere and onion mac, sold out in 20 minutes. On Wednesday, he's doing a take on a carbonara with pancetta, shallots, English peas and parmesan fondue. For Thursday, Steuer will do a twist on a beef stroganoff with mini meatballs, mushrooms and a sherry/blue cheese gravy.

A percent of the profits from these sales will benefit Working Bikes Cooperative, a South Side non-profit organization that collects and refurbishes bikes for those in need, both in Chicago and abroad. See, just because The Bedford is housed in a bank, doesn't mean they're greedy.
· Mark Steuer's The Bedford: Everything You Want to Know [TOC]
· Bedford Previewing Menu on Southern Mac Truck for Charity

The Bedford

1612 W Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622 773 235 8800 Visit Website

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