by Rock ‘n Roll Ghost
I’m tired. It’s very late. I have to be up in less than 4 hours. But here I am. Writing about Mark Steuer‘s The Bedford because I feel I need to. I will be seriously re-reading this article in the harsh brightness of day to make sure no craziness slips through.
Until a few weeks ago I had never been to The Bedford. Not to visit. Not for a drink. Not to eat. Every time Steuer and his crew were at a food event, I either never found them or just didn’t get a chance to eat his food. I only knew of his reputation (his time at both Mindy Segal‘s Hot Chocolate and The Gage) and that other chefs had a lot of respect for him (and that he was supposed to be a great guy – which is true).
So when I went in to interview Steuer back in August (on a Saturday around noon) not so much about The Bedford but about his forthcoming Southern low-country cooking establishment The Carriage House (opening Tuesday, September 18th). It was the first time seeing the actual bank vault the restaurant was known for (architecturally speaking, of course). Basically, The Bedford is in the basement of what used to be a bank (there’s a CVS above that takes up what used to be the bank’s lobby) and the team decided to keep a lot of details (the vault and security deposit boxes) as decor.
The Bedford is surprisingly non-pretentious when actual people are in it. The swanky decor and lounge vibe of the room is very relaxed and incredibly accessible (basically to someone like me, a non “beautiful person”). I doubt I’d feel as comfortable hanging out at one of Billy Dec‘s places or The Aviary.
So tonight, I walk in, The Bedford & The Carriage House‘s mixologist Michael Simon is right there (Simon, incidentally, is getting ridiculously buff – appearing almost superhero-esque of late, like Chris Evans in Captain America), saying hello and offering a beer (he wasn’t even behind the bar). I say hello to Steuer, who, along with Simon and another person from The Bedford/The Carriage House are judging karaoke performances at their Monday night festivities, The Gong Show.
After awhile of listening to good tunes played by their “DJ” and listening to people somewhat not and outright murder classic songs, I finally ask a bartender (a stunningly attractive woman working her first shift) about the late night menu. Sure, a lot of it sounded great and I easily could have gone with the mussels, but I chose the burger.
The Bedford burger is, according to this recipe Steuer gave, a combination of chuck and brisket (with bacon fat and pickle juice thrown in for good measure), bacon jam, bleu cheese and a fried egg. I’ve said this before, I had an intense aversion to eggs for years. All it took was Chris Curren‘s deviled eggs at his late, great restaurant Blue 13 (Curren is now at Stout Barrel House) to make me realize that, yes, I could like eggs.
But man was I surprised that I would ever like a fried egg on top of a burger. And one that was simply the best god damn burger I’ve ever eaten. Now most of it could be due to the fact that whoever cooked it, cooked it a perfect medium-rare as instructed (that’s pretty much half the battle most of the time). But the flavor of the meat and that incredible bacon jam along with that wonderful fried egg featuring that delicious gooey yolk to mix in with everything else? Heaven, my friends. Simply heaven.
And tonight, as well as every Tuesday night, you can get this excellent burger, NO, the best burger I can think of in Chicago, for $12 (The Bedford burger always comes with fries and a delicious, perfectly tangy, sour pickle) and you get a beer as well. The Bedford burger is normally $12 on its own, so you get a free beer! That’s a damn great deal if you ask me.
So go tonight. Go every night. Get this burger. And then come back, like I’m going to have to do, and try The Bedford‘s other food as well.
Look for my feature interview with Steuer about The Bedford, The Carriage House and a lot of other shit we talked about (but not everything we talked about) this week before The Carriage House opens next Tuesday, September 18th (literally down the street a bit from The Bedford). There were some excellent treats sent out to all the guests this past evening to give everyone a taste of The Carriage House‘s food and they were all exceptionally delicious.