- Carriage House is all about bringing people together
- The communal wood tables have leather benches
- Come winter, those spots will look onto an enclosed patio
- Welcome to the Carriage House ... come in and stay awhile
- This photo, just off the bar, shows the view off the back of chef Mark Steuer's childhood home
[Photo: Jason Little]
If you've wanted to take a trip to the South, now you don't have to go very far. Starting tonight, you can head over to Wicker Park and check out the Carriage House, the new South Carolina Lowcountry-inspired spot from the team behind the Bedford and chef Mark Steuer (Bedford, Hot Chocolate) that was first announced back in June.
The 85-seat spot evokes a warm, genteel feeling with wooden communal tables, vintage bushel baskets, inviting leather benches, loads of natural light from the tall windows, Charleston chairs, white-washed ceiling fans, subway tile and duct work, found stained-glass windows hanging above the open kitchen and swinging doors that lead to the prep kitchen.
Steuer, who hails from Charleston, S.C., hung an oversized photo of the view off the porch of his childhood home (where his parents still live), leading down a 300-foot dock surrounded by the marsh heading to the Stono River. Imagine waking up everyday to that? It had an impact and it can be tasted in Steuer's menu, which features "modern Lowcountry cuisine juxtaposed with rusticity," he said.
The menu features both sharable plates (with good-sized portions to buck the "small plates" idea) and "supper," which is how dinner is referred to down South. Start with a Charleston She Crab soup and be sure to order "my favorite slaw," with a creamy and vinegar-based dressing and gives it a pop with the addition of cracklins and candied peanuts. Don't pass up the fried chicken thigh with bread and butter pickles. Dive into the warm skillet cornbread while the foie gras butter melts into it and you spread nectarine marmalade over top. Crispy pork belly with confit apple, crispy pig ears and corn nuts is a good lead in to supper, where you can share larger plates like Carolina grouper, a bountiful Lowcountry clam boil or a tender ribeye with Asher blue cheese and heirloom tomato.
The cocktail program, created by Michael Simon, who left Acadia to join the project, and Sterling Field (Sable), is broken up into traditional (Creole Cocktail, Singapore Sling) and reimagined (Lazy Man's Old Fashioned, Cheer Rum & Cola). And the wine list is pretty impressive, featuring a number of wines by the glass from France and a good mix of well-priced Old and New World bottles.
The Carriage House currently has a 20-seat covered patio adorned with staghorn ferns mounted to custom taxidermy plaques that will be enclosed and heated for the winter. A seasonal 40-seat patio sits on Division and is fenced in by vintage wrought iron cemetery fencing found by Heather Shouse, who outfitted the entire space with greens and flowers. And what would any good Southern home be without a proper front porch? Watch for that to arrive next spring along Paulina, complete with rocking chairs and hanging lights, where you can sit and while away the day with a Carriage House rum punch made with sweet tea. Because isn't that what you down South?