Whether you’re religious or not, we’re willing to bet you’ll be shouting on Hallelujah from the rooftops (probably only figuratively) after one meal – any meal – at this gem. To our utter delight, The Grange Community Kitchen opens to the public Saturday, July 9th resulting in another big win for Hamburg’s blossoming dining scene. To save you smarties who follow us blindly and need not read any more from a TLDR coma – you can make reservations now on Open Table or call (716) 648-0022 once they are open. For those of you who need a bit more convincing 1) shame on you and 2) read on.
Expect Great Things
I’ll admit I was a bit anxious walking into The Grange for their soft opening dinner last week. Excited that The Grange was ready to go and I was about to sample the offerings of one of Western New York’s best chefs. Regular SOB readers will recall we are big fans of Chef Brad Rowell formerly of Elm Street Bakery. I was eager to see the transformation from Italian kitchen to Community Kitchen and finishing touches on a space I can remember as a kid all the way back to Art Pfeiffer’s Sporting Goods. Anxious with wonder – can this place really live up to the great expectations I’ve built up in my head?
The Look & Feel
The love child of comfort and elegance has come to roost on Main Street in Hamburg. This large open space is dressed in soft colors of blond wood, tan leather, brass, and white tiles and trim all tied together neatly by a 100-year-old hardwood floor. Large folding front windows open to a sidewalk stoop on Main Street and pull in plenty of air and light. The front half of the space is occupied by a spacious entry and a beautiful, fully stocked marble bar with a standing area/counter in the center. A roughly 8-seat counter features a view of the open kitchen complete with wood fired oven, and plenty of cooks hard at work. #teamworkmakesthedreamwork The back half of the space is for dining with leather upholstered banquettes on three outside walls, tables, and chairs, and fantastic lighting welcome you from the middle.
The people at Community Kitchen plan to make “community kitchen” more than just a catchy name. “The Grange was established as a gathering space for the residents of Hamburg and beyond. We wanted to build a restaurant that is community focused, approachable, and affordable for our guests” said Caryn Rowell, co-owner and wife to Brad who will be managing daily operations. Community is a feel and an attitude and in our (SOB) humble opinion it’s just a matter of time until the Grange fulfills this promise.
The Grange plans to be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week. A pretty ambitious undertaking to say the least, but something we’re thrilled about.
Pro Tip: Breakfast (7:30-11am) and lunch (11-2:30) are semi-service. Start by ordering and paying at the counter when you walk in, then help yourself to water at the island. Servers will bring you your order to your table, refill your water and remove empty plates throughout your stay. Dinner (4:30-9/10pm) is full service.
The menu at the Grange is as imaginative as it is mouthwatering. “We will be serving simple seasonal food highlighting local produce and responsibly raised meat,” says Owner/Chef Brad Rowell. Sure, ingredients are king, but it takes a skilled artisan to put together a combination that both excites the senses and satisfies the palate. This is where Rowell’s skill, experience, and creativity separates him from the pack. The combinations are simple yet extraordinary and almost too pretty to eat, yet I only hesitated long enough to snap a photo. I’d like to say the cuisine is Rowell, but I’ll go with New American instead. Time will likely tell that Rowell has little affinity towards and one cuisine, unless delicious is considered a cuisine.
The breakfast menu will include pastries by Pastry Chef Emily Savage, yogurts, granola, sourdough toast, and succulent breakfast sandwiches like Porchetta, Smoked Duck Scrapple (!!), and more. Lunch includes soups, salads, pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches.
The dinner menu features exciting appetizers like oyster, cheese, and charcuterie plates, a few different salads, and small plates like cold Beet Soup ($7), and Citrus Marinated Scallops on carta di musica (cracker bread) with grapefruit, chili, radish and mint ($4 each) – AWESOME! 6-8 creative wood fired pizzas round out the casual side of the menu (our Squash Blossom & Ricotta Pizza ($14) was tremendous – really). Large plates include a Porchetta Sandwich ($12), Roasted Sockeye Salmon ($21), Pan Seared Bavette Steak ($23), Brick Half Chicken ($22). These all come dressed to kill. For example my chicken was accompanied by chickpeas, roasted zucchini, tahini yogurt, pine nuts, and laffa bread. So there’s that – insert XX for eyes emoji face.
The Wine List is well put together with 4 sparkling, 2 rose, and about a dozen red and white. I’d highly recommend the Liveli Primonero. As for the rest of the bar, it includes something like 8 taps with a rotating selection of craft beers and ciders, some nice options in can/bottle, a fully stocked liquor assortment with trained bartenders and a good looking craft cocktail menu.
Remember: These menus will change frequently because they are inspired by what’s in season and reflect the Grange’s commitment to utilize goods obtained from local farmers and producers.
In The Kitchen
Rowell leads an experienced team that’s been working hard for a while now to master the high level of service you’ll experience at The Grange. The squad (had to) includes David McMurray as the General Manager, Adam Lauer as Lead Bartender, Pastry Chef Emily Savage, Sous Chefs Anthony Petrilli and Chad Robasse, Lauren Dujanovich as Daytime Manager, Joanna Cappola as Floor Supervisor, and of course designer/decorator/visionary/co-owner Caryn Rowell.
And yes, in case you were wondering – The Grange Community Kitchen lived up to and exceeded my great expectations. Let us know what you think.
The Grange Community Kitchen
22 Main St, Hamburg
Hours: Tues – Sat 7:30am -2, 4:30-9/10 (10 on Fri and Sat.)