With the Bedford now just a little more than a year old, the team behind it—Salita Development and chef Mark Steuer—were a little itchy to do something else. So come September, they'll open the Carriage House, a restaurant inspired by the cuisine of South Carolina's Lowcountry.
The 105-seat spot will open at 1700 W. Division, the former home of Edge, and will include a 40-seat patio that will likely eventually also feature rocking chairs on the Paulina side. The space gains inspiration from small "outbuilings," old brick carriage houses that once served as storage rooms or kitchens outside of homes throughout Charleston and the coastal region.
Steuer, who hails from Charleston, S.C., said the decor will have "a lot of elements that remind me of home," like whitewashed wood, vintage burnished metal, industrial patinas, an old Southern-feeling front porch and an open kitchen with stools looking in.
Steuer spent a lot of time on John's Island while growing up and is also the Lowcountry's culinary ambassador to Chicago so he knows this cuisine first hand —from using heirloom vegetables to canning to butchering whole animals for use in the dishes. "It's going to be a good opportunity for me to take memories I have from my childhood and put them on a plate," Steuer said. "My parents had a dock in the backyard and my Dad and I would go get shrimp and crabs and cook them on the porch. To be able to put [those memories] on a plate is really gratifying."
Steuer is still working on the final menu (he jokingly said he has about six working menus currently), but that "there will be some things that are really traditional, like a she-crab soup, but then we'll take some old Southern flavors and modernize them." Don't be surprised if you see variations of typical Lowcountry fare like shrimp and grits, hoppin' john, catfish stew, Charleston red rice and a Lowcountry boil.
Where dessert is concerned, Steuer is getting help from former Hot Chocolate boss and friend Mindy Segal to help pull together some ideas he has. Ultimately, while the main menu will change seasonally, Steuer wants to keep desserts pretty simple. Think pies, cobblers and red velvet cake in metal tins.
Joining Steuer in the kitchen will be Sean Spradlin, his current sous chef at the Bedford, and Michael Velo (Henri) will serve as general manager. With this cool concept and a solid staff, it looks like another spot should get added to the list of most-anticipated restaurant openings of the summer, no?
· The Bedford Opens Tonight Inside Former Bank [~EChi~]
· Chicago's Most Anticipated Summer Restaurant Openings
Mark Steuer [Photo: RedEye]