Although there are three partners plus a slew of actively involved relatives, Grange's principal is definitely owner and head chef Brandon Johns. I feel like I've spent the past twenty-four months following this guy around downtown Ann Arbor. I first noticed his creative specials at the Chop House, then was wildly enthusiastic about the changes he brought to Vinology during a twelve-month sojourn there (a stint that, curiously, is omitted from Johns' bio on the Grange website). Now he has landed his own restaurant, and I think we're finally getting to see Brandon Unbound, with a greater purity of vision combined with a more exacting and exuberant execution.
"Grange" evokes the agricultural-cooperative movement that flourished in the late nineteenth century. While the restaurant is a fine example of the farm-to-table genre, it's far from the only one in town that makes a concerted effort to use the products of local agriculture. Still, the Grange definitely raises the bar. And its aim is to keep raising it--the eventual goal is 90 percent local sourcing. A good chef could meet the creative challenge of winter in Michigan in all kinds of interesting ways. I can't wait to see what the menu looks like in February.