When Wicker Park Southern restaurant Carriage House closed this fall, it was to rebrand as laid-back lounge CH Bar + Provisions. Fortunately, the team has since shaved a few syllables off its name. They reopened the space as Buck’s (1700 W. Division St., Wicker Park, 773-384-9700), focusing on Southern booze and staple food.
Pressed on his team’s move to change the Michelin-starred Carriage House, Buck’s managing partner Matt Mering cites Chicago’s changing cultural palate. “I think in general the restaurant biz is moving toward more casual,” says Mering, who also holds stake in the Bedford. “We’re tweaking the concept, the dishes, the prices to make it more approachable and embrace the neighborhood.”
Concretely, that means a revamped interior (dark green and charcoal with new furniture and artwork) and a nearly redone menu. Holdovers from the Carriage House menu include fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and the eatery’s stock fried chicken (though it’ll now be served in buckets to be "more fun and whimsical"). Past that, the restaurant’s Mike Galen–penned menu will move away from Lowcountry fare and toward a biscuit-centric selection, including a chicken and gravy biscuit, a pork biscuit, and for dessert, a s’mores biscuit with toasted marshmallow.
The bar will also take a hard left turn, focusing now on whiskey cocktails (mainly bourbon) and a nascent punch bowl program. If that doesn’t sound like a surefire hit just yet, wait until Buck’s rolls out its 45-seat patio in Spring 2016.