Opening The Grange
I found out The Angel was closing the hard way: I showed up and no one was there. The place was lights-out and empty. Uh-oh, I thought. Good news is, the place didn’t lay fallow for long. Better news is, The Grange kept pretty much everything that was good about The Angel’s space—the dark woods, the brick patio, the tile floor, and the little pub-nooks—and added just a bit of light, just a bit of air, to open it up and make it feel fresh.
On to the bad news. Saturday night, the joint was hopping, but tangled. The space between patio and bar was wandered by folks trying to figure out the seating situation, with no host and no list to help. I like wandering into a self-serve pub space, sure, but that night was just too busy for that. A tall man with keys on the end of a long spoon rushed around, apologizing for late dinners and calming frustrated customers. Beer was being brought in by the six-pack. They were in the weeds.
So let’s go back to some good news. Service was happy, attentive, and up-front. As soon as our waitress knew there was going to be a delay on our food, she let us know. Our appetizer showed up quick and hot.
Which brings us back to some bad news. The food on Saturday night was a bust. In an Irish pub, chips shouldn’t be skinny, limp, soggy things. What comes with them shouldn’t be a plastic Solo cup of blue-cheese dressing. Fish and chips shouldn’t consist of a single ragged piece of fish burned within an inch of edibility and more of those skinny fries. The shepherd’s pie was ordinary.
Word since Saturday, though, is better. The report I got says “Grange impressed” and “Good food.” Also, “Great hangout vibe,” which I sure agree with.
Friendly advice, Grange? Commit to the Irish vibe on your menu, nail those pub-favorite dishes, and add some distinctive dish that gives your place its own voice. In the meantime, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that The Grange stays busy enough to find its flow. The trick is giving a new place time to find its footing without, you know, just not going and accidentally running it out business, I guess.
Not to jinx it, but I’d be surprised if they can’t make it work there.
1. I’ve read that some restaurant critics give a new place three months to get their act together before they review the place. How long do you wait?