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Oct 26, 2011 04:12 PM

Chef Dave Santos (formerly of Hotel Griffou) private dinners

A number of you guys probably remember Chef Dave Santos who used to cook phenomenal food at Hotel Griffou ( Just thought that I'd share the news that he'll be cooking and hosting 4 private dinner events in November. I don't think I'll be able to go (need to save up for Per Se!), but I figure that some people here might be interested and I'd love to see any reports on the dinners.

The dinner series is called "Um Segredo" and will take place on Nov 4, 5, 10, and 11. Grubstreet has the details posted here:

Main points:

7-course Portuguese-influenced menu
$75 cash donation

Reservation: email


Coriander cured snapper
textures of papaya, chili oil

Sweet potato and duck tongue salad
Rocket, pepitas, cranberry

Seared scallops
Pickled fennel puree, Red wine figs

Portuguese pot pie
Cod brandad, Roasted garlic

Morcilla(blood sausage) stuffed tripe
Piquillos sauce, spanish almonds

Tasting of pheasant
Spatzle, celery root

"Pumpkin Pie"

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      1. I'm going the first night and will report back.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Dave Feldman

          That's great! Look forward to your report! :)

        2. The first of these four dinners was a rollicking success. The food was at least as good as the tasting menus I tried at Hotel Griffou, but with the added feature of having the dinner as an intimate, private event with Santos toiling literally a few feet away in a residential kitchen. I have no idea how he did it all, but with the assistance of two friends/servers, everything went more smoothly than at the restaurant, with an informality and joy that made the event even more fun. There are some beautiful photos of the dinner here:

          The menu was basically what was on the list. The major change was the most felicitous. Santos used coriander-cured branzino instead of snapper, and swapped the papaya for the essence of banana. I probably wouldn't have been able to identify the ingredient as banana, but it was unmistakeable once prompted. Combined with just enough chili oil, this might have been my favorite course.

          The "Tasting of Pheasant" was undersold -- it was delicious, roasted pheasant (breast?) over spaetzle with celery root and homemade pheasant sausage. Absolutely delicious.

          The "pumpkin pie" was fantastic, too, a deconstructed pie using crunchy bits of savory, salty starches (I've forgotten all, but definitely pretzel and pumpkin seeds), over a delectable pumpkin puree and topped by a delicious yogurt ice cream. Imagine a Ssam Bar compost cookie that (thankfully) isn't nearly as sweet, paired with a pumpkin puree and tart ice cream, and you'll have an idea of how delicious this was.

          Those three dishes were my favorite, but I couldn't complain about perfectly seared scallops or the morcilla stuffed tripe, or the tasty bits of duck tongue on the sweet potato salad.

          My only disappointment was with the Portuguese pot pie. As you can see from the photos, the pie, like the dessert was deconstructed, with the crust on the side (a buttery pastry-ish take on Portuguese Bread). Mixed in with this thin stew was a stunning paprika cream, that gave the soup a richness and body that would have otherwise been missed. But I couldn't really taste the cod much, and I missed a fishier base. Most of the other diners disagreed with me. David Santos said I might have preferred it with salt cod, and I think he was right.

          Anyway, this was a blast and I hope to do it again. You know those annoying TV shows where you see celebrity chefs eating great food at a private party that we'll never be able to share? That's what it was like for us.

          I'm assuming that the email address above is the way to contact David for more information about these events. I think he may be sold out for the rest of these four dinners, but I hope there will be more.

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

          10 Replies
          1. re: Dave Feldman

            Thanks for the detailed report, Dave. I had no doubt the dinner would be a smash. The fact that he pulled it off in a residential kitchen shows how truly talented he is. I gather he will be doing more dinners after the two next week (afaik, they are sold out), so I'm hoping to attend one in the future.


            1. re: RGR

              David was talking about doing more dinners in November, but maybe he was high from the enthusiastic reception he got! And I confirm that he was working with a regular apartment four-burner stove and oven, and as you can see much of the meal was cooked a point with a frying pan on the stove.

              1. re: Dave Feldman

                From the photos, the food looked more refined in style than what David was cooking at Griffou. Reminded me of the food he cooked as chef de cuisine at Restaurant Nicholas, in NJ.

                I did take special notice of the stove as it looks like the G.E. we have in our apartment. It actually does a really good job for things done both on the cooktop and in the oven.

                I don't think his talking about doing more dinners was just talk. In his posts elsewhere, he's sounded pretty definite about continuing them, especially since he got a huge response from the Grub Street article. He's even mentioned the possibility of a truffle dinner if there was any interest. I'd love to attend that!


                1. re: RGR

                  Keep your eyes open on wednesday for more dates. I was in now way kidding about that! LOl Im glad you enjoyed it. I dont want to cross the lines as far as the chow rules so i wont interact to much with the thread. Just to say thank you all.

                  1. re: chopjwu12

                    how do you try to rsvp for these dinners. i am extremely interested (I realize the current ones are probably sold out but would love to get a spot if there are more upcoming), but can't find any information about this online. thanks so much.

                        1. re: cubicles

                          You can get a reservation by emailing He has a couple spots left for the November dates and the truffle dinners on December 1, 2, 3

                2. re: Dave Feldman

                  The dinner looked wonderful! Thanks a lot for the great report, Dave.

                3. The next dinners have just been announced, for Nov. 17, 19, 21, 22 and 23. Here's the menu:

                  Pheasant Terrine
                  port mustard

                  Celery root Tasting
                  Truffle vinaigrette

                  Escabeche of Branzino

                  Seared Scallops
                  Fall bean ragu

                  Stuffed Quail
                  Chard, barley, morcilla, cranberries

                  Aged Ribeye
                  Mushroom puree, fingerling's, cipollinis

                  "Pumpkin pie"
                  Pretzel crunch, yogurt gelato