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CLOSED: Dinner at Hotel Griffou

  • Cuisine: New American
  • Atmosphere: dramatic interiors, multiple dining rooms, sexy
  • Attire: business-casual, dress to impress
  • Ideal for: date night, small groups, bar scene, trendy
  • Must try: Lobster Thermidor Fondue (appetizer), $16
  • Price: Average entrée greater than $25
  • Reservations: Via phone
  • Phone: (212) 358-0228
  • Website: http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/hotel-griffou/
  • Location: 21 W. 9th St., (btw 5th & 6th Avenues)
*All photos from this meal can be viewed on Flickr
Named for the boarding house that it used to occupy circa 1892, Hotel Griffou is one of Manhattan's newest unmarked, speakeasy-style, see-and-be-seen lounges with a fancy-shmancy dinner service.  Located on a very inconspicuous residential street in Greenwich Village, Hotel Griffou's only marking is its address.  So if you think that you can get lucky by simply asking a random New Yorker where this hot spot is located, you're probably going to be let down.  Your best ammunition is to have the directions written down, and walk slowly as you approach the numbers getting closer to "21."  A friendly older gentleman dressed as a bellhop may ask if you're looking for the Hotel Griffou , and if you affirm, he will lead you down the short flight of stairs to the venue's entrance.  Looking back, I wonder if I would have received the same acknowledgment had I arrived sans makeup and wearing last season's trends. 

I couldn't have been happier to enter Hotel Griffou's space, as the entire left side of my body was drenched.  It was brutally raining outside, and for those of you who have never experienced a NYC rainstorm, the precipitation falls not only vertically, but horizontally as well.  It makes you question why an umbrella is even needed. 

After checking in for our reservation and handing my wet coat over to a hostess, I plopped down on a bar stool and ordered one of HG's signature cocktails entitled "Trophy Wife," which was said to be made with:
matusalem rum, passion fruit, key lime juice, sugarcane syrup and nutmeg.  What I received was some sort of champagne-based concoction with a delicate passion-fruit after taste.  By this point in my damp evening, I was too cold and impatient to correct the bar tender...plus, I didn't want to wait around for another 10 minutes for the correct drink to be made.  As I anticipated my guests' arrival, I kept busy by studying the gorgeous interior and all of the pretty young things who filled its space.  Hotel Griffou has multiple rooms and a lower level that I did not see on this visit, but am curious as to where its stairs lead.  The decor reminded me of what would be conceived if The Waldorf Astoria and the Hotel Negresco (Nice, FR.) made passionate love.  In other words: old-world charm, dim lighting, plush materials, candle light, animal-print, speakeasy-chic, romantic, sexy and rich.  Half of me was comfortable, yet the other half felt like I was in the sitting room of someone's crystal and museum-piece decorated apartment (you know, the kind of stuff that breaks when you touch it).
Notes of interest:

  • The service we received during our meal was excellent.  Our waitress was extremely knowledgeable about the menu and its ingredients.
Lobster Thermidor Fondue: Served in a caldron the size of a French onion soup bowl was a smoldering blend of cream, imported cheeses and whole chunks of sweet lobster meat.  The fondue was served with heavily-buttered toast points.  

Beef short ribs: Our waitress literally sold me on this dish.  How could I resist her description of "beef short ribs that had been braising for hours in a red wine sauce?"  Plus, the accompaniments didn't sound too shabby either: a celery root gratin and fresh baby vegetables (yellow and orange carrots).  Everything about this entree was perfect and I was in a food trance from first to last bite.    

Milk Chocolate Cake and Salted Caramel Banana Pudding
:  I'll be the first to admit that each of these desserts look outrageously appealing and sexy.  However, just like in the case of many super models, that is where the attraction ends.  Neither sweet treat lived up to its gorgeous image.  I found the Milk Chocolate Cake's cake to be too dry and could not, for the life of me, taste the salt in the "salted caramel" drizzled over the banana pudding.    

What’s pricing like?
Here’s a snapshot of our bill:
  • "Tropy Wife" cocktail: $14
  • Lobster Thermidor Fondue: $16
  • Beef short ribs: $29
  • Milk Chocolate Cake: $9
  • Salted Caramel Banana Pudding: $9
Will  you return to Hotel Griffou?
I really wasn't sure what to expect from HG prior to my visit.  Being that a friend had planned this dinner and invited me along, I had no say in where we would dine.  Typically, I shy away from places like HG, which almost always have the following reputations: "$30,000 millionaire" clientele, impossible reservation policies, velvet rope-esque scenes, etc.  I'd rather spend my hard-earned money and valuable time elsewhere.  However, I really enjoyed my experience at HG from the food and atmosphere to the service and pace of our meal.
So to answer your question?  Yes, I will most certainly return to HG...just hopefully next time on a hot date!  The space oozes and exudes romance. 

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Reader Comments (1)

Did you change your layout recently? It seems much roomier and easier to read today. A+.

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterplumpdumpling

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