Southern Fried

A South Carolina native finds a home in Wicker Park

Mark Steuer takes great liberties with the word "traditional."

It's the header of one section of the menu at Carriage House, his new Lowcountry-inspired restaurant in Wicker Park. But the technique employed in his staggeringly moist fried chicken ($9) is far from classic.

Steuer cooks rolled, deboned chicken thighs sous vide, then fries them until their jacket of skin is perfectly crisp, and the inside piping hot. Eat them with a drizzle of local honey and a dash of house-made sweet-potato hot sauce, alternating with bites of sugary pickles.

Pair the dish with a side of slaw ($4): Its cider vinegar and roasted garlic dressing had us licking the plate. Shrimp and grits with hunter gravy ($10) had a similar effect. Traditionally made with mushrooms and bacon, Steuer augments the dark sauce with a headily savory combination of reduced stocks.

He's got love for dessert, too. His praline sundae with brown-sugar shortbread, meringue and punchy bourbon caramel is one of the finest finales in recent memory.

Steuer's Southern food works because it's about more than the current trends. The Charleston, South Carolina, native is marrying the technique he's learned with the food he loves–and it shows.

Carriage House, 1700 W. Division St.; 773-384-9700 or carriagehousechicago.com