When you step inside the Bedford, you feel slightly as though you’re in a swanky speakeasy that someone placed square in the middle of a bank vault. Which, in fact, is exactly what it is. The Bedford, which celebrated its one-year anniversary in April 2012, is housed in the former MB Bank Building and immediately evokes a Mad Men vibe with Mid Century Modern furniture, a copper ceiling and of course, gleaming steel bank-vault doors and safe-deposit-box walls that encircle a cozy lounge packed with plush couches.
While some may be enticed by the vintage-inspired decor, I was initially drawn here with a group of friends for a $25 champagne and oysters special featured last summer. Since then, I’ve been back several times for the artisinal small plates menu, crafted by former Hot Chocolate chef Mark Steuer, that combines comfort food with modern elegance.
The menu is conveniently divided into three sections: snacks, salads and soup, bigger plates and side dishes. If you’re hungry enough, a ‘bigger plate’ like pork chop with braised beans and carrots or halibut with marinated artochokes and mustard relish could function as a main dish. If you’re interested in sharing plates with friends, which is always my favorite way to go, they have a macaroni gratin tht you’ll dream about, mussels cooked in a beer broth with chiles and garlic and a rotating selection of salads, cheeses and charcuterie.
If you’re looking for a place to drink – and not to eat – Bedford has it all, including intricate seasonal cocktails like the Merry Mai Tai (Ron Zacapa, Ron Matusalem, Orange Liqueur, Absinthe, Orange Juice, Lime Juice and Angostora’s Bitters), Pisco Punch(Encanto Pisco, Pineapple, Lime Juice, Simple Syrup, Ginger Beer and Angostura Bitters) and Cucumber Cooler (Citadelle Gin or Reyka Vodka, Aperol, Lime, Simple Syrup, Muddled Cucumber). The wine list is well rounded and there is also a nice selection of beers, complemented with cans of PBR so you won’t forget you’re in Wicker Park.