Say goodbye to burgers, and hello to jambalayas and Sazeracs.
In June, the beloved Grange Hall Burger Bar quietly shuttered, and quietly reopened as a cocktail and music lounge that brings a taste of New Orleans rhythm to Restaurant Row. Owner Angela Lee (Booze Box, Sushi Dokku) completely redesigned her farm-to-table eatery, and the rustic space is now a darkened, romantic salon. Named The Front Room (844 W. Randolph St., West Loop), the bar and restaurant aims to transport patrons to the 1920s, to the heart of the city's French Quarter.
Like The Backdoor Saloon, its sister bar that hosts burlesque shows, The Front Room provides a dining experience with a twist. The atmosphere here, though, is more relaxed. Lee and her collaborator Zac Ryan have created a robust music program dedicated to jazz and blues, with no cover charge. DJs spin records on certain nights; on others, live musicians have diners tapping their toes.
“It’s not that Grange Hall didn’t work," Lee says. "It’s just that the neighborhood had turned into a place that was saturated with restaurants. I felt it needed something more—something where people could connect with music, culture, each other, and experience more than just food."
The menu does have an extensive selection of seafood and Creole dishes, including small bites like baked oysters and a grilled andouille sausage plate. Among the more substantial options are a spicy vegetable jambalaya, a muffuletta, and—get this, Grange Hall regulars—the burger bar's much-adored Berries and Brie Burger. As for cocktails, have your pick of classic New Orleans drinks, from a Sazerac to the Vieux Carre.
Lee hopes that patrons will see The Front Room as a unique place to wind down. The setting invites you to linger, decorated with chandeliers and cozy booths with plush emerald green fabric that nods to the color of Herbsaint, the liquor used in Sazeracs. There are also plenty of palms, intended to make the space feel like an updated Southern courtyard.
"It's not really a live music venue," Lee says. "But it's really important for me that people can come here to have dinner, and enjoy each other's company with blues and jazz playing."