The griffon – a mythic half eagle/half lion creature – represents among other things, wisdom. With this in mind, Significant Other and I figured why fight for bar space on a Saturday night when an afternoon at the Griffon Gastro Pub would work just as well?
We weren’t alone. A trio of older fellas and a pair of hipsters watching college basketball had the same idea.
Once Carly’s Diner, Mister Steak and Augie’s Sunrise Diner, this is the building’s fourth incarnation. Co-owners Ken Scibetta and Edward Webster’s nine-month renovation shows, from a sharp new bar and interesting tin ceiling to comfy dining booths and a great faux fireplace in the ladies’ room.
Medieval accents include miniature knights who guard the 50 odd taps. Beers change frequently, Scibetta said, “to nudge guests to step outside their comfort zone and try something new.”
A screen that looks like a chalkboard flashes daily selections. Fortunately a printed version is available for those of us with failing eyesight and short-term memory.
Beers on tap are divided into Lagers, Ales, Stouts & Porters, Hops, Wheats & Belgians, and Flavors. From Pabst Blue Ribbon to high-end choices, one would be hard pressed to not find a good one.
Prices vary depending on the beer. Buffalo’s Big Ditch Excavator American Brown Ale was offered in 6 oz. ($2), 12 oz. ($4), 16 oz. ($5) and 22 oz. ($6), while Maine’s Allagash Interlude Belgian style ale for the same sizes ran $5, $10 and $15 (22 oz. not available.)
Served on a darling wood paddle, flights feature four, 6-ounce beers. Bartenders mark selections in chalk so drinkers know what’s what. It’s a lot of work for them, including pulling beer from higher-placed taps. How many times do they get a beer shower?
To start our indulgent “afternoon at the bar,” SigO went with a New York State flight: Buffalo’s Big Ditch Brown Ale, Flying Bison Brindle Porter, Hamburg Brewing Oatmeal Stout and Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown) Triple Perfection.
Feeling medieval-ish, I tried an English Strongbow Hard Cider on tap. Had I read the menu closer, I would have gone with the White Hag Irish Brewing “gruit,” described as an ancient herbed ale.
After his flight, Sig had a beer with the longest name he could find: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier. Candice, our knowledgeable lady of the castle (aka barkeep), pronounced it perfectly. In fact she made sure everyone was well taken care of with food and drink.
Eating at the bar is highly encouraged, and we did. Griffon’s gastropub menu offers great twists and turns.
The Devils On Horseback appetizer was a must. Named for Norman raiders who invaded England wearing bacon-covered armor to terrorize villagers, the Griffon’s Devils are grilled Gorgonzola-stuffed, port wine-soaked prunes wrapped in bacon. Ugly, but delicious.
We downed the Devils along with a melt-in-the-mouth burger made from custom ground beef (lanced with what looked like two jousting sticks in a grilled brioche bun) and house-made, sinfully crisp chicken tenders with a honey-Sriracha dipping sauce.
As we left, we raised our mythical goblet to the Griffon and pledged our fealty. We will visit anon, and bring our noble friends.