Mark Steuer / Carriage House

Don’t confuse low-country cuisine with anything subpar. Chef Mark Steuer is serving up a comforting, modern Southern menu in his Carriage House in Wicker Park.

Chat Chow TV pulled up a stool next to the chef to talk updated Southern cooking, white wine pairings and ham.

“I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, so it’s called the low country,” explains Steuer. “It’s kind of what we based this restaurant off of. It’s called the low country because it’s actually below sea level. So the thing I think is different about the food there is there’s lots of French and Spanish influence, lots of seafood.”

For authenticity’s sake, the feel-good food gets flown in from South Carolina about three times a week, like the grits, corn meal and the shrimp, fish and clams. Trust us, it makes a difference.

Must-try menu items include the cornbread and shrimp and grits. The sticky-sweet cornbread recipe took about two weeks to perfect, and is served with preserved apples and smoked foie gras butter.

“And the shrimp and grits is […] one of the first things I ever learned how to cook,” says Steuer. “Ours, we get our grits from Geechie Boy Mills in South Carolina and then it’s Georgia white prawns with homemade Tasso ham and we call it a hunter gravy. It’s basically mushrooms and shrimp stock and pork stock and chicken stock, kind of reduced down until it’s a really, really savory, kind of brothy sauce on top.”

Nothing low about that. Watch the video above to learn what low-country cocktail will go best with your shrimp and grits (hint: it hails from a really old recipe book from Charleston).

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