Midwest Living Review
Executive chef Mark Steuer was first introduced to low-country cuisine when he lived in South Carolina, and his love for this food culture inspired him to open Chicago’s Carriage House in December 2012. As native Southerners of Virginia and Alabama descent, we were curious to see how Carriage House compared to our Southern food experiences. The menu proposes a variety of small plates and sides, divided into traditional and reimagined categories, perfect for sampling. Or try one of the few more substantial suppers.
Our traditional fried chicken thigh ($9) with bread-and-butter pickles, sweet potato, hot sauce and local honey was spot-on with crispy, well-spiced skin and moist meat. We also liked the pork boudin balls ($14) with fava bean relish, fermented red onion and Creole mustard vinaigrette (one of the reimagined dishes). We’d read rave reviews about the shrimp and grits ($14) but were disappointed with this dish: The smoky gravy swirling around the creamy grits added a flavor we didn’t like, and we would have preferred our shrimp served without the shells.
Collard greens ($5) are an acquired taste. If you happen to like them, these are quite good with a vinegary kick. The skillet corn bread ($7) served with a rhubarb topping was moist and warm, but the Hoppin’ John ($6), a mixture of rice and beans, was too tame for our tastes. For dessert, the warm buttermilk pie with strawberry topping ($9) was outstanding; the sugar-dusted fritters with dipping sauce ($9) were good but not as exceptional as the pie.
Service was attentive, and the overall Carriage House atmosphere is classy and cozy. We’d return to try some other items (the crispy pork shoulder sounded great) and to enjoy another slice of that buttermilk pie.