As far as buzz goes, few openings of 2012 generated as much as Wicker Park hotspot Carriage House. First came the June announcement from the team behind Bedford (including head chef Mark Steuer), and from there followed reports of a beverage program designed by ex-Arcadia mixologist Michael Simon and Sable’s Sterling Field, a space outfitted by Heather Shouse, and a good ol’ southern lowcountry rusticity inspired by Steuer’s childhood home in Charleston, South Carolina. When the finished product was unveiled in late 2012, few argued that Carriage House failed to deliver.
Against a backdrop of rough-hewed, communal wooden tables, worn leather banquettes, white-washed walls and exposed bulbs, Steuer’s shareable and small plates fall under traditional and reimagined banners – Charleston She Crab Soup with drop biscuit, crab salad and sherry gastrique included in the former, Pork and Beans with ham hock, yellow-eyed bean succotash, okra pickles and creole mustard the latter – with larger plates like Carolina grouper with collard greens, and crispy braised pork shoulder for supper mains. The classic and inventive cocktail menu features delights like the Creole Cocktail with Buffalo Trace, Carpano Antica, Ramazzotti, Benedictine and orange bitters, and the warming Cheer Rum and Cola with Botran Reserve, kola tonic, cheerwine and kaffir lime. Talk about southern hospitality.