Just a little more than a year after the opening of The Bedford, Salita Development and chef Mark Steuer are planning a second Wicker Park spot, Carriage House, for this fall. The 105-seat restaurant and bar will be Steuer's homage to the Lowcountry, with cuisine inspired by his experiences on John's Island in South Carolina. “I grew up shrimping and crabbing with my dad," says Steuer. "I want to bring those memories that I have and put them on a plate."
Steuer, a Charleston native, is still determining what will be on those plates—"I have six menus right now," he says. But it will be a mix of "straight-up, traditional Southern," old Southern techniques applied to new ingredients, and Southern foods cooked in less traditional ways. This is a return to roots for Steuer, whose food at the Bedford (where he'll continue to oversee the kitchen) hews contemporary American, but whose food at HotChocolate, where he was the chef de cuisine, had a Southern tinge. "It's the flavors I grew up with," he says. "Why try to fight it?"
The format for Carriage House will be small plates, with one or two larger ones: "something big and hearty for the table," says Steuer. The food will be complemented by a Southern-inflected bar program heavy on whiskey. And the space, which has been vacant since Edge closed, is undergoing a major overhaul. The existing kitchen is being torn out, to be replaced by an exposed kitchen with a couple of counter seats looking in. Meanwhile, Edge's bare sports-bar vibe will be replaced by whitewashed wood, vintage burnished metal and tile, imparting a Southern, "Carriage House" atmosphere.
Carriage House (1700 W Division St) is slated to open in September.