New Deal This month, Custom House in Printer’s Row rebrands itself as ultra-urban Custom House Tavern, where American fare marries ethnic flavors—like in a burger topped with French foie gras. Leading the change is South Carolinian culinary star Aaron Deal.
You came from Tristan, a white-tablecloth spot in Charleston. How did you end up here?
I loved Charleston and the city was great to me, but I was looking for a level of enthusiasm and energy in a city that was greater. I just served sous vide turkey on Thanksgiving here at Custom House. Tat might have scared some people in Charleston.
You were featured nationally on CBS’ morning show, cooking Oscar party food. What was that like?
I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to rip off my chef jacket in time to show my tuxedo T-shirt before they cut away, but I did.
What’s your vision for Custom House Tavern?
When you’re in the dining room, there’s no mistaking that you’re in the city. From our window you can see the lights, cars and sounds. We want to celebrate that with American food. And I’m sneaking in some of my favorite dishes, like she- crab soup and foie gras pot de crème. It’s like a dessert and a cheese course in one plate.
Anything you miss about the South?
Biscuits and gravy. But we did get in a Benton’s country ham last week, so I’m doing all right. 500 S. Dearborn St., 312.523.0200, customhouse.cc.