The Brunch Dish: Grange Hall Burger Bar Serves the Best Brunch That Isn't Technically Brunch
As the name makes glaringly obvious, burgers are the main draw at Grange Hall Burger Bar. However, the weekend farmers' breakfast should not be overlooked. The restaurant makes a point of differentiating their breakfast from brunch, stating how farmers' don't partake in brunch. Okay. Well I hope farmers don't come chasing after me with pitchforks, because I'm going to write about Grange Hall anyway and heap praise upon the brunch-but-not-really-brunch menu.
The farmers' breakfast menu jives perfectly with Grange Hall's cottage-like decor, which looks like it was designed by somebody's crafty grandma who had a lot of time and spare cow bells on her hands. The food is just as cottage-y and grandma-esque. This being Grange Hall Burger Bar, you'd be remiss not to order the open-faced breakfast burger ($13.95), a dish combining seemingly every aspect of breakfast in one Titanic plate. Rather than just remove the top bun off one of their burgers, the kitchen serves the grass-fed beef patty on a thick, maple syrup-soaked slice of cinnamon-raisin French toast. The burger is topped with an oozy egg, cheddar, and two kinds of bacon: applewood-smoked and Canadian. Oof. It's a mouthful to say, and an ever bigger mouthful to eat. First of all, I appreciate the boldness of this dish. PSA to restaurants offering "breakfast burgers": just adding an egg on a burger does not make it "breakfast." I would normally shy away from sweet-infused burgers, and at first the idea of essentially a French toast burger sounds a bit like an IHOP commercial, but the dish succeeds with flying colors. The burger is juicy and intensely beefy. When the beef jus, egg yolk, and maple syrup meld together on the plate, it's a surprisingly scrumptious combination, sorta like when Lady Gaga and Beyonce did those videos together and I was surprised how well they worked together.
Another wacky alternative to typical breakfast fare is Grange Hall's outré interpretation of quiche. The quiche Loretta ($9.75) is not your standard egg pie by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, it's a mini egg-filled skillet baked with a slice of bread in the center, taking the place of the crust. Allegedly this is farmer-style quiche, and instead of breaking their hearts by telling them this isn't quiche, I'll instead just savor this unusual creation in all it's yummy weirdness. It's studded with green onions, cheddar, bacon, and corn. The bread in the center takes the whole thing in an inverse toad-in-the-hole direction. Accompanying potatoes are especially great when jazzed up with some housemade hot sauce.
Is it weird to order dessert after brunch... I mean breakfast? The answer of course is no. Especially at Grange Hall, where seasonal pies are the dessert du jour. The April pie is banana cream ($6 for a slice), with a tangy banana-studded custard and a sturdy, nutty crust (if this were farmer-style pie, I'm assuming there would just be a pile of dough in the center of the pie?). The dollop of housemade whipped cream on top is probably the prettiest dome of whipped cream I have ever seen, and I practically have a Masters in Whipped Cream. If dessert with breakfast seems askew, just think of it as a fruit plate, but naughtier.
Grange Hall may not classify itself as such, but it's worthy of mentioning in the same breath as Chicago's top brunch spots. It's a charmingly rustic escape from the normal brunch queue, complete with some of the most unusual and unusually delicious breakfast dishes. If this is how farmers spend their weekend mornings, I'm prepared to pack up my spare hoes and head to the country.