Danny and I first hit up Grand back in 2009 during a Stamford Restaurant Week. Now, I had been there a couple times before in a different phase of my life – once for drinks with a client (too loud) and another time in my single days (too meat-market-ish). Back then I didn’t even know they served food, so we weren’t sure what to expect when we went for dinner. I remember it being a little weird (is it a club? is it a restaurant?), a little dead (we were one of only two tables eating), and a little “meh” (the food was not bad but not great, though I was a huge fan of their truffle mac & cheese). But when we heard Grand Burger Restaurant Lounge partnered with Norwalk Burger Bar & Bistro chef, Nick Bilello, this past July to completely revamp their menu into a burger bar, we thought we at least had to give it another shot. So we did, and here’s what we thought:
Ambiance: The best way to describe the ambiance is confused. Nothing’s really changed from before other than some additional tables out on the sidewalk. While the ambiance is nice, sleek and modern, it definitely still feels very much like a night club / lounge. Actually, it still is, which definitely makes for a weird vibe for a burger bar. In fact, while dining out on the sidewalk we overheard a few people walk by making comments like “it’s too fancy there,” or “that looks too expensive.” While in reality, neither of these are true, it certainly does appear that way.
Starters: They start you off with some complimentary homemade potato chips with a sour cream based dill dip. The chips were good, nice and dark as I like ‘em, but a bit over-seasoned. The dip was nice and refreshing though, with light flavor. They also have a nice selection of other non-burger items (appropriately called “not burgers”) to choose from for starters including their delicious truffle and gruyere mac & cheese I mentioned earlier, mussels & fries, quesadillas, naan & hummus, a few salads and a couple oyster dishes. I started with six Wellfleet oysters because I never say no to Oysters, ya heard? The oysters were fresh and came with all the accoutrements you come to expect with raw oysters: lemon wedges, slightly spicy cocktail sauce and a vinegar mignonette (that’s fancy talk for red wine vinegar, shallots and black pepper). Danny started with the chopped vegetable salad which featured string beans, bibb lettuce, baby tomatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, salami cubes and mozzarella. It was a good size with a healthy serving of veggies and a nice light vinaigrette dressing that Danny really enjoyed.
Burgers: The menu featured a nice variety of creative burgers to choose from. I had to go for the Forest Burger because it had goat cheese on it, and if you’ve read anything we’ve written at all, you know I have a certifiable addiction. Yes, so it had whipped goat cheese, woodland mushrooms and honey (oh.my.gawd.). The bun was very good, nice and ooey gooey and the toppings were a seriously delicious combination of yumminess. The burger itself was cooked medium rare as I asked and was a nice size, not too thin, not too honking huge. The meat seemed high-quality and fresh, though it was a little bland. Either way, the toppings made up for it. Danny, being the brave soul that he is, always up for a challenge, went for the Elvis Burger. And what do you think would come on the Elvis Burger? Yup, you got it: peanut butter, bacon and banana chips. Eeeek. While I absolutely refused to take a bite of the concoction, Danny gobbled it down like a champ. He is still raving about it as I type this. He absolutely loved it and felt the same way I did about the burger itself and the bun.
Sides: Being pretty darn full and anticipating our need (yes, need) for dessert, we decided to share an order of tater tots with homemade Dr. Nutz BBQ sauce, which is made with Dr. Pepper and Nutella. The tots were really good. Nice and crispy and a little greasy like they should be. But the BBQ sauce, yeah the BBQ sauce was better than really good, it was fan-freakin-tastic! It was seriously like a flavor explosion in your mouth, slightly sweet, slightly savory, not-so-slightly awesome!
Dessert: Ok, so I’m talking about the Banana Split Milkshake Danny had in the dessert section, but let it be known this was actually Danny’s first course. Yeah, that’s how he rolls. He definitely liked the flavor combo of caramel, banana and vanilla ice cream but would’ve liked the shake to be thicker. While I was tempted by some of the adult milkshakes (mixed with various liqueurs), I opted for the Banana Bread Pudding French Toast, because here again, is another one of my certifiable addictions. To be clear, the name of this dish is a little misleading. It was not a bread pudding at all, nor was it banana bread. Instead it was two pieces of french toast with strawberries and bananas on the side drizzled in chocolate and caramel. The french toast was ok, a little dry and bland. I wouldn’t get this again, but I would order the Icebox cake which looked fantastic.
So for everyone that walked by and thought Grand Burger Restaurant Lounge was too swanky for a casual dinner, don’t be fooled. Yes, it may still get packed with mini skirt wearing hotties and fist-pumping dudes after midnight, but until then it’s a great place to go for some solid, tasty and creative down-home American grub.
Grand Burger Restaurant Lounge
Address: 15 Bank Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone: (203) 323-3232