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Jul 18, 2011 09:19 PM

Good Things Are Happening at Hotel Griffou

There have been some threads that have recognized the drastic upswing in food at Hotel Griffou, but somehow it is till flying under the radar, or underestimated because of its shaky beginnings with a different chef. David Santos, late of 5 & Diamond in Harlem, is cooking up a storm at Griffou, and he has been offering special tasting menu dinners once a month (usually on Mondays, but occasionally, such as this month, a different day of the week). There has been one thread about the Sunday brunch here: but I think I'm more excited about dinner at HG, and especially the tasting dinners. He's pared this one from 7-courses down to 5. The larger number of courses meant quite a long dinner. Cost of this dinner is $75 including all beer.

Here's the July 27th (Wednesday) dinner, with beer pairings!

Tasting Menu

Summer truffle egg
Kasteel Cru, Alsace

Watermelon and sakai crudo, Buttermilk sorbet
Hell or High Watermelon wheat beer, San Francisco

Sweetfish tempura, miso remoulade, avocado
Hitachino Nest, Japan

Lobster ravioli, summer squash, foie gras emulsion
Biere de Miel, Belgium

Belly and loin of Iowa farms pig, corn pudding, pickled succotash
Dogfish Hell Hound, Delaware

Tobacco poached cherries, chocolate sable cookies, stout ice cream
Geary's London Porter, Maine

I've been to previous tastings, and the portions of food and drink are most generous. And best of all, David Santos's food is exuberant, flavorful, and imaginative. Although the kitchen staff is small, Santos finds the time to come out and say hello to his guests and share his passion for food and fun. I'm only sorry I can't make it this month, but next month, I'm there!

I have to admit that one of my motivations for posting this is my hope that some Chowhounds go and report back. Reservations are required, via phone at 212.358.0228 or email at

Hotel Griffou
21 W 9th St, New York, NY 10011

5 & Diamond
2072 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026

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    1. re: bob96

      I'm well aware of the review. In fact, it was one of the motivations for me posting. I can't criticize the critic. I have no reason to think that Steve Cuozzo had/has an ax to grind, but the food I've tasted there has had no resemblance to the food I've eaten there, and maybe the kitchen was having an off-night. I think it's more likely Cuozzo was having an off-night. The kitchen certainly doesn't deserve the snide tone. There aren't enough people enjoying HG, but those that do go seem as enthusiastic as me.

    2. Thanks, Dave. Great tip. I'm not sure I can make it this month, either, but you've put it on my radar. I've never been for food, only drinks.

      Strangely, there's no mention of the tasting dinner at all on their website!

      Do you know what time it begins?

      14 Replies
      1. re: michelleats

        I'm wondering the same too. Any additional details on this? And, what if you don't want to drink?

        1. re: Cheeryvisage

          It starts a 8 p.m.

          In the email I received, there is no mention of a separate charge for just the food. My husband drinks but I don't (or so little, it barely counts), so that's an issue for us when special dinners don't separate the cost of food and alcoholic beverages. If you are interested in going to this one, you might call and see if they would be willing to make a deduction.

          1. re: Cheeryvisage

            Cheery, I was wondering about whether not drinking was an option, too. I just called to ask and the (very nice) reservationist told me that this was a beer tasting event and they couldn't really just do the food. She did suggest that I take someone who could drink both our beers for us. Happily, I have some friends who might be able to do that. Let me know if you want to borrow one. ;)

            She confirmed that the event begins at 8 p.m. (thanks, RGR, for posting this info) and that the entire event would take about 2 to 2.5 hours. If you go with a dining companion, you'd have your own table and could eat at your own pace.

            1. re: michelleats

              Thank you for your kind offer. Haha.

              Good to know the additional details on this event. I'm going to see if I can clear the calendar for next Wednesday.

              1. re: Cheeryvisage

                I get the feeling that beer was the inspiration for the menu in the first place. I know the waiters had a heavy hand on the wine during the last dinner. In the past, the tastings did have a no-alcohol option. Also, the kitchen was most gracious about substitutions for allergies and aversions.

              2. re: michelleats

                If someone were to just want the food. Id be happy split off the two. It would be 50 for food and 25 for the beer. Will try to get some more stuff up on the website if i can.

                1. re: chopjwu12

                  Thanks! That's nice of you to be so accommodating.

                  (And thank you, too, for being open about your association with the restaurant -- and not being sneaky / pushy with the advertising, but rather informative.)

                  1. re: michelleats

                    Excellent for having a food-only option. I made a reservation. :)

                    Will report back.

                    1. re: michelleats

                      No problem. Im the chef and will help with information as much as i can. I will let the people who have come in talk about what we are doing. They can be the voice of experience.

                    2. re: chopjwu12

                      Great! I was also hoping for food-only option. I'll have to make a reservation soon.

                  1. re: Dave Feldman

                    The chef also posts about these upcoming menus at NY Mouthfuls.

                    1. re: Riverman500

                      That's If you try mouthfuls without the food, you get an entirely different type of website. :-)

                      At any rate, I've eaten Dave's food at 5 & Diamond and now at Hotel Griffou... he's an excellent chef, the food that's coming out at H.Griffou is fantastic and I'd highly recommend going for the tasting &/or for dinner any time. Tuesday nights is great for starting at the bar and eating inexpensive oysters paired with a wine deal that was very nice when we went (Weimer Reisling for $20/bottle).

                      Hotel Griffou
                      21 W 9th St, New York, NY 10011

                      5 & Diamond
                      2072 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026

                      1. re: Steve R

                        I made the same mistake once re: mouthfuls and got, well, more than my mouth was up for! A second on the oysters at HG -- the restaurant got some funky belons this season that were out of this world.

                2. I'm so glad you posted this, Dave! We haven't been able to be at any of the previous tastings, and it doesn't look as though we will make this one either. :( But that said...

                  We were familiar with David Santos' culinary talents before he took over the kitchen at Griffou because he had previously been the chef de cuisine at Nicholas, an upscale NJ restaurant (considered the best in the state) where we've dined many times.

                  We had dinner at Griffou recently. The food he is serving here is more rustic than Nicholas's, but there are many hints of that haute style, and every dish we had was seriously delicious. I can't describe it more perfectly than you have: "exuberant, flavorful, and imaginative." :)

                  I have heard reports from others whose opinions I trust that their experiences at Griffou have been exactly the same as yours and mine. It would be a pity if Cuozzo's "review" (if you can even call it that) keeps people from going because they will be missing out on truly wonderful food.

                  Hotel Griffou photos:


                  Hotel Griffou
                  21 W 9th St, New York, NY 10011

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: RGR

                    As Cuozzo's review exemplifies, the problem at HG seems to be that its origins as a party bar for raucous young Wall Street types seems to disqualify it as a place to take seriously for food. This matters not a whit to me. The small dining rooms are shielded from the bar and I haven't found it a problem at all.

                    Santos put his time in at Bouley and Per Se, too, and his technique is stellar (you can see it in everything from the complex bone marrow flan), but you can also see the personal touch in his re imaginings of Bolognese (right now, it's goat Bolognese) The tasting menus are fun because at least once a month he gets to cook whatever he wants.

                    There are places with wide-ranging menus where the instinct is to order simple preparations; at HG, my general advice is to order the "weird" stuff. It's likely to be well-executed and most reflective of the chef's skill.

                    1. re: Dave Feldman

                      Yes, I agree Griffou's reputation is a big problem. Plus the fact that, as I understand it, the food previously was not good and received a royal panning from (I think) Bruni. So, it's important to get the word out that there is a new chef, that David's stellar background is evident in his cooking, and the food he is serving -- both the simpler dishes and those that are more complex -- is excellent.


                  2. I think what's happening at Hotel Griffou right now -- new chef with great credentials who's never yet had a chance to fly takes over kitchen of obnoxious douchebag lounge and turns it into one of the very best mid-priced restaurants in New York -- is one of the big stories on the New York dining scene.

                    But nobody's reporting it.

                    This place should be recognized -- and patronized -- by people who are serious about food. (Even if on some nights you might have to ignore a little obnoxiousness -- on behalf of other patrons, not the staff -- to do so.)

                    Hotel Griffou
                    21 W 9th St, New York, NY 10011

                    1. Just wanted to say thank you to those of you that made it out. Thanks for the support and i hope you had a great time.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: chopjwu12

                        Do you only serve the tasting menus on Wednesdays? I can't find any information on your website.

                        1. re: filet_minion

                          We actually put the tasting on hold for the summer. We didnt want it to compete with the gilt city offer we are doing. But in september the chefs tasting will be back in full force. But i do a special tasting once a month that allows me to express a certain topic or ingredient. Thats what this past wednesday was.