The Griffon Gastropub made a splash by declaring it would have 100 beers on tap at its Clarence location, 5445 Transit Road.
While beer nerds debate whether that is an signal accomplishment or a mockery of all that is sacred, the menu has been jacked up too, with dishes not served at the original Niagara Falls location. This place wants to be a "gastropub," not just a watering hole.
The adventurousness results in dishes like Firecracker Shrimp ($9), an appetizer of tangy grilled shrimp that uses Pop Rocks, the classic 1980s candy crack whose bubbly-on-your-tongue nature made it the champagne of my childhood.
The shrimp arrive on pineapple that has been marinated with cilantro, jalapenos and more, making it a dish that throws sparks and demonstrates a willingness to get weird even if my particular dish of Pop Rocks - perhaps denatured in a humid kitchen environment - were more fizzle than pop.
The menu covers the basics - wings, burgers, salads, fries - but also has an adventurous side. Deviled eggs present as Buffalo wing hybrids, on a plate strewn with blue cheese crumbles, as pictured in the top photo.
Turkish lamb meatballs arrive in a dear little skillet, and two interesting dipping sauces, one red chile and a tahini-yogurt sauce.
Shrimp and grits showed up in a skillet, too. Plump fried shrimp were embedded in "buttered movie popcorn" grits. I like fried shrimp, and these cornmeal-crusted fellas were enjoyable, but the non-canonical preparation is likely to set any native South Carolinian on edge.
But this is not a place that bows to a lot of traditions. Most places wouldn't you make a pork burger, dress it with pickled vegetables, spicy mayonnaise and cilantro, and call it a banh mi burger.
And if they did, they would cook the ever-loving pink out of it. Not here, making for one tasty burger.
(That smoked gouda mac and cheese, from transplanted from the Niagara Falls store, is still making people happy.) Ditto the corn fritters with maple butter.
Plus, did you know they have beer? Maybe 100 beers is more than many people want to wade through. But if you're looking to explore, the Griffon Gastropub wants to be your undiscovered continent.
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