Sometimes you just want to go out - no specific plans, no goals for the evening besides just wanting to go hear loud music and blow off steam. It would be nice to have a few drinks, you think, but whatever will do: just get me a beer/cocktail/shot, man. Sometimes you're just in an "eat to live" kind of mood, and anything filling will do. Other times you're more discerning, selective: you could really go for a burger, but generic "burger" arriving wrapped in paper won't cut it. For those times, there's the new Grand Burger in Stamford.
Yes, the former G/R/A/N/D ultra lounge has been re-imagined as a burger place, and the menu is the result of the discerning eye of Executive Chef Nick Bilello, creator of Burger Bar in SoNo.
The burgers themselves are mix of chuck, sirloin and hanger steaks in proportions which are kept secret, but are designed to hold up to the impressive array of potent toppings available. The Roaring 40's bleu cheese (paired with caramelized onions and fig balsamic on the G/R/A/N/D burger) will make you question just what the hell you've been eating your whole life and thinking it was acceptable to hold the "bleu cheese" name. It's that good. Whipped goat cheese with truffle honey and woodland mushrooms top the savory Forest burger, and robiola (an Italian cream cheese) is piled on the Slow & Low burger along with braised short ribs and a BBQ sauce with Dr. Pepper and Nutella as ingredients. Home made BBQ chips are available as sides and can be paired with a buttermilk ranch dipping sauce.
Starters include a Belgian favorite, mussels and fries. The fries in this case are very thin and crispy, presenting a nice contrast to the soft shellfish, which bask in a garlic and herb chardonnay sauce. Oysters benny can also be had, lightly cornmeal fried and paired with a truffled hollandaise and slivers of bacon. Fried oysters can often be chewy and bland, but these oysters benedict manage to be tender and indulgent. Other frutti di mare on the menu include a fish taco with battered and fried cod sharing space on a petite tortilla with iceberg lettuce, avocado and sweet, spicy chili relish. I'm generally not a fan of battered fish, but the relish may as well be nicknamed "The Dude's rug" because it really ties these tacos together.
There are a few poultry items available, and dry rubbed and fried "chicken and waffles" can be found in the "Not Burgers" section of the menu. A Southern favorite, in this case the dish consists of wings and waffle fries served drizzled with a cider/honey syrup with home made hot sauce on the side.
Winston Churchill used to make a dry martini by pouring chilled gin into a glass and then casting a glance over his shoulder at the vermouth. The BLT salad at Grand Burger is that glance at healthy food. A wedge of baby iceberg lettuce is plated with bacon, the aforementioned ranch, and halves of slow roasted baby tomatoes that impart a sweet, almost smokey flavor to each bite.
We may as well have dessert, since we're basically defenestrating the notion of calorie counting, and Bilello includes a childhood favorite of his in this category: mini ice box cakes. The cakes are really layers graham crackers interspersed with chocolate pudding and ganache, served cold and topped with whipped cream. Mini banana pudding french toast can also be used to blanket acute cases of sweet tooth.
The interior space will be familiar for anyone who had ever been to G/R/A/N/D, minus the metal beaded drapes and plus a few tables in the front, where sidewalk dining is now also available. The long, full bar remains, and the space reverts back to the booming atmosphere of its club roots Thursday through Saturday nights. Should your discerning palate crave an Elvis burger with peanut butter, bacon and plantain chips, you now know where to go.