Clarence’s Griffon Gastropub has gotten a lot of attention for the drinks it offers, starting with 100 beers on tap, or close to it. The restaurant’s food menu sneaks up on you under cover of the drinks hubbub, but when you read it the list of dishes is almost as eclectic.
Case in point: corn fritters, a Southern recipe that has put down roots in the wilds of northern Erie County.
“All my recipes are from family recipes, or things I’ve learned over the years, and tweaked,” said Ken Scibetta, who owns the Clarence restaurant and the original Griffon (2470 Military Road, Town of Niagara) with Ed Webster. “The corn fritters especially came from my grandmother Frances Martin, who was born in Arkansas, a Southern cook at heart.
“My grandmother died when I was 3 or 4 years old,” Scibetta said. “I really only knew her through my mom’s cooking.” They were only made one or twice a year, at major family events, he said. “My mother would whip up a batch of them, and they’d be gone in no time.”
Maple butter was part of the original recipe, but it probably wasn’t 100 percent maple syrup most of the time, because that’s more expensive, so Scibetta upgraded. “I just wanted to have true, authentic maple syrup and Grade A butter,” he said.
Otherwise, it’s pretty much the exact same recipe, maybe five ingredients. Self-rising corn flour. Corn kernels. Salt, sugar and whole milk. No eggs. Dropped by spoonful into the fryer, producing eight to 12 “little spoonfuls of love,” Scibetta said. “Crispy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside.”
The $6.50 appetizer is definitely more sweet than savory. So it gets your appetite going, but “I’ve had people order it for dessert as well,” he said.
It’s the No. 1 selling dish at both Griffon restaurants. So after the sigh, the sharing, the careful calculations and negotiations over who gets how many, here’s the name to thank in your prayer of thanksgiving: Frances Martin.
Info: Griffon Gastropub, 5445 Transit Road, Clarence, 580-3701, and 2470 Military Road, Town of Niagara, 236-7474, griffongastropub.com.