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Culture / Foodie Events

Chattels and Caviar

BY Rebecca Sherman // 01.08.15
photography Shayna Fontana.

As anyone who shops the glamorous, recherché chambers of Grange Hall knows, the world of co-owners Rajan Patel and Jeffrey Lee spins in a different direction. Their goods are a fine and idiosyncratic assortment, including such thrilling (or chilling, depending on your take) objects as a garnet-and-gold spider pin by Gabriella Kiss ($6,800), a brooch in the shape of a coffin by Julia de Ville ($300) and David Simcik’s disquieting and beautiful found sculptures (Timmy Turner the Human Pincushion, $750). News of the 10-year-old store’s expansion into the space next door (a former day spa) to allow for a restaurant caused a stir amongst those who wondered what exotic delectable cuisine might be on the menu. Deep-fried tarantula? Raw-blood soup? Balut? Not quite. Try Mediterranean tuna, chopped salad, vegan barley potage and cold-pressed juices. “When Rajan and I travel, we try almost anything,” says Lee. “But for the restaurant, we wanted health-conscious foods — I can’t even believe I even said those words — because Dallas eats lunch in a certain way.” The restaurant, which opened in late October, has no name (“We probably won’t ever call it anything,” says Patel). They serve lunch, afternoon tea, wine, beer — and, because the restaurant caters to the same stylish and well-heeled clientele as the retail side, Petrossian caviar (served in a silver egg) at $112 and Krug Grande Cuvée, priced at $135 per glass. As Grange Hall’s upper-crust customers know, the boutique isn’t just about the oddities that have fueled its reputation for uncommon finds. This is where one buys Ted Muehling egg-and-dart candlesticks and exquisite Nymphenburg porcelain. (In fact, Nymphenburg has just teamed with Grange Hall toproduce a custom made-to-order pattern based on the classic rococo Cumberland pattern.) It’s where you stock up on Histories de Parfums fragrances, Costes candles, coffee-table books on Daphne Guinness, chic arrangements of poppies in a hollowed-out turtle shell or lavish oversized vases full of peonies for dinner parties.

 “Mauve is such an old, odd color that nobody uses anymore, Patel says, but I love it.” – Rajan Patel

And now, it’s where the design observant will sip Mariage Frères teas from delicate Nymphenburg and Richard Brendon porcelain cups and lunch on the SnobSandwich, a rich concoction of Petrossian smoked salmon, caviar and organic egg salad on a toasted brioche ($22) and served on German-made, fine bone china (Dibbern’s Carrera). The flatware is Portuguese, brushed gold and ebony from Cutipol, which — like everything else in the restaurant — is for sale, $27 to $73 per piece. There are exquisite sugars, oils, vinegars, salts and flights of honeys from around the world, curated by retired chef Wylie McAnallen, who has consulted for years on the music for Grange Hall and is now consulting on all things epicure.

Lee and Patel brought in some serious talent to pull the culinary side together, including former York Street chef/owner Sharon Hague, who consulted, and chef Chad Martin (formerly of Hotel St. Germain), who mans the kitchen full-time. Martin spent six months perfecting the menu, the recipes and the presentation. His baked-to-order madeleines, served with burnt honey dip, are worthy of Proust, exquisitely plated with sprigs of hydrangea plucked from the 1,000-squarefoot floral workroom in the back.

While the entire building got a makeover — the front doors (massively rendered in heavy laser-cut steel) were moved to the parking-lot side, and the retail space was brightened with the addition of an enclosed courtyard and better lighting — it’s the restaurant that garners all the attention. Separated from the shopping area by a glass-and-steel wall, it’s “less Victorian and more industrial,” Patel says. Steel girders help break up the long rectangular room, and there are places to attach unexpected, beautiful objects. A clothing designer, Lee looked to fabrics for inspiration, including the laser-cut steel window screens, which were taken from a damask pattern, and intricate chains that hold a large wood display shelf in the center of the room, which are reminiscent of another damask in Lee’s fabric collection. A large wall sculpture designed by Lee from metal, has velvet panels that can be switched out as seasons and moods change. For now, the mood is mauve.

Owners Jeffrey Lee, Rajan Patel
Owners Jeffrey Lee, Rajan Patel

“Mauve is such an old, odd color that nobody uses anymore,” Patel says, “but I love it.” The overall palette runs the gamut from gunmetal gray to dusty rose, with punches of pink from the flowers. It’s a subtle look, but for Lee and Patel, it’s akin to a riot of color. “Originally, I wanted the restaurant to be even darker,” Lee says. But as the design progressed, things got brighter and, dare I say it, more fun.

“‘Playful’ is the one word we use about our whole approach. For instance, the chandeliers are not really chandeliers, but lampshades,” Patel says of the dangling, fabric fixtures custom-designed by London husband-and-wife team Hannah Plumb and James

Russell of James Plumb, which resemble the English foxglove flower. A pair of walnut chests (designed by Lee) that hold the restaurant’s flatware and linens appears to be a stack of drawers piled off-balance, with mismatched drawer pulls he’s collected along the way. The well-conceptualized furniture displays singularly dramatic objects for sale, such as an antique bronze fireplace chenet, polished to a golden glow.

Once their order from Nymphenburg arrives from Germany, says Patel, he’ll probably put tiny porcelain mice scampering down a ledge or two, surely the most costly rodents ever known. A charming bronze bird (fittingly designed by a company named Swallow, and sold on the retail side) will hold custom-made bronze plaques with certain customers’ names to reserve their tables. Just who gets those plaques is another of the ineffable qualities of Grange Hall, which not even Patel can put into words. “There’s no real criteria,” he says. “It’ll happen organically.”

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