Preview | Grange Hall Burger Bar
Years ago, on my first trip to(before the lines of GQ readers accumulated outside the place), I walked by the door about four times before spotting it. All I remember thinking was, How cool. And I haven’t repeated that moment until this past Tuesday night—this time on Randolph’s restaurant row, with a slatted white door cut gracefully out of a barn-like facade, only a slight silver handle beckoning visitors in.
Welcome to Grange Hall Burger Bar, virtually unrecognizable from its former life as Veerasway. The restaurant may be more marked by the time you visit—though I hope not. A real barn wouldn’t have a glaring sign, and Grange Hall is country to the max, in the nouveau chic way you’d imagine from a place that has the word grass-fed at least five times on its menu. I mean that in a fantastic way. Take: the twangy tunes playing, from the Eagles “Take it Easy” to everything Johnny Cash. The bright, mismatched linen napkins. The flowered wallpaper on the back wall, black with colorful blooms. The long, wooden tables. (Communal, yes. Hold your groans: Here, it works.) Even the gingham vest donned by owner Angela Hepler Lee, also of Veerasway and the still-hoppingdown the block.
The menu boasts one daily special and a few “table snacks,” but let’s face it: You’re not at Grange Hall Burger Bar for a salad. You’re also not here to be timid—with no pre-built options, burgers are dealer’s choice. Start with a six- or nine-ounce beef, turkey thigh or wild-rice patty, tack on one of about six Midwestern cheeses, and supplement from a list of standard extras, from caramelized onions to a fried egg. Before I comment on the meal, remember: This was a soft opening, designed for a restaurant to get feedback and work out kinks. That said, there weren’t many. The server forgot to mention that beef patties are cooked default medium (if you only remember one thing, let it be this: ask for medium rare). But that didn't matter after biting into the burger. Mine was perfectly pink, with a pillowy poppyseed bun that could hold its own against a runny egg yolk. I didn’t even need the cheese—a dash of thick, lemony mayo and you’ll leave a happy camper (farmer?). You’ll also be full, even from a six-ouncer, but please indulge in a slice of seasonal pie. Tuesday’s was pumpkin, with a crust that had to be made from real butter. It’s well worth bustin’ out of your overalls on the trip home.
Grange Hall Burger Bar (844 W Randolph St, 312-491-0844) is currently in friends-and-family soft-opening mode. It opens to the public on November 15.