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First Look: Carriage House

By Anthony Todd in Food on Sep 21, 2012 4:00PM

Carriage House opened a few days ago, and, based on the crowds, it has already hit its stride. The kitchen was pushing hard to keep up with the already-packed restaurant but everyone, including Chef Mark Steuer, still had smiles on their faces.

In case you hadn't heard, Carriage House is a low-country Southern restaurant focused on the food of South Carolina, Steuer's childhood home. In fact, there's a giant picture of that very childhood home on the wall. The menu includes a lot of classic Southern dishes (shrimp and grits, slaw, cornbread, biscuits, pork and beans) but is going to expose a lot of Chicagoans to a whole new breed of southern cuisine.

This version of the south isn't heavy or greasy, and it's strongly focused on seafood. Charleston she-crab soup, a signature dish of the region, is finished with sherry and tastes like a rich, slightly funky seafood bisque. The Low country oyster roast brings the heat of the grill to the fresh taste of oysters, along with some bacon and leeks. A "picnic board" is filled with pickled eggs, pickled shrimp, shaved country ham and pimento cheese. If you're up for a challenge, try to eat the Low Country Boil by yourself; a huge cast iron pot of rabbit sausage, corn on the cob, shrimp, clams and red potatoes. Round out your meal with a full list of cocktails by mixologist Michael Simon.

Check out descriptions in the captions, and make reservations - we suspect it's gonna stay packed for a while.

Carriage House is located at 1700 W. Division St..