Before we visit any restaurant we’ve never frequented before, we like to check out the online reviews. Yes, that means we skim through Urbanspoon and Yelp and take all entries with a grain of salt. While doing this for The Gryphon, we found out the place used to be a sports bar. The owners of The Gryphon (also the owners of Lost Society – a boutique steakhouse) decided to close the place down and revamp the space into what is now considered a “Meat & Raw Bar Social House”, with emphasis on “social”.
Here, guests are encouraged if not expected to share everything. The menu, split into three sections, includes well thought out Raw Bar choices, a large list of Social Bites (read share-able appetizers), and the Larger Cuts that include steaks and lamb chops prepared for two and are served pre-cut for easy sharing. With an obvious focus on meat, The Gryphon places a majority of its focus on their beef. Both the wet and dry aged beefs are cured on premise, and guests can expect to see filet, NY strip, ribeye, and even short ribs on the menu.
For now some of the meats are locally sourced including the oysters whenever possible, and items such as the procuitto (currently sourced from Edwards Farm in Surry, VA.) until the Executive Chef Joseph Evans’ curing is finished. However, due to the Evans’ preferences he has chosen to stay away from locally sourced beef, preferring a grain fed finish after grass feeding that he can find in the Midwest. This allows him to cook his meats the way he prefers due to the higher fat content achieved with grain.
We had the opportunity to visit and explore the new dining concept for ourselves. Struggling to decide what we wanted to try, we relied on our knowledgeable waitress to make recommendations. Gotta tell ya, she did a great job explaining the options and giving her opinion. The only suggestion we passed up was the Striped Bass Ceviche, even though she said it was a popular menu item. We will say this though, everything was cooked well. Nothing was ever over or under done, and we appreciated the consistency of execution. The plating was aesthetically pleasing, and the prices were fair for the quality and quantity. We started by placing our order for three of the Social Bites:
- The Lobster Gnocchi (pea puree, Fresno chili, royal trumpet mushrooms, lemon zest, Maine lobster) was, in our opinion, an inventive combination of flavors. A bright, beautiful, and flavorful dish, the only thing we wished there was more of, was the coveted Maine lobster. Sorry guys, but five small pieces just doesn’t quite cut it. This Maine gal loves her lobster more than life itself.
- We have bad luck with beans. Not quite sure what it is, but every time we order a dish with them as an accompanying ingredient they’re always too hard or too mushy. The Gryphon got the beans on the Prosciutto Wrapped Monksfish (asparagus, chilies, black-eyed peas, champagne butter) juuuuust right. In fact, this was the overall favorite dish of the evening.
- Surprisingly we had mixed reviews of the Wet-Aged Bistro Filet (fried Brussels sprouts, speck ham, Bearnaise sauce). Similar to our experience at Zaytinya, we were once again left wondering why we’ve hated on Brussels sprouts for so many years. The sprouts paired with the Bearnaise sauce were perfect on their own. We just wish there had been more flavor to the bistro filet. It was nearly lost among the rest of the dish’s components.
- We couldn’t pass up ordering one of the “Larger Cuts” available on the menu. Give us an option of lamb or beef and we will always choose lamb. We decided to opt for the Lamb Chops (with Romesco – almond & red pepper – Sauce) and a side of Mac N Cheese (Panko, Fontina, Gouda, & Gruyère). One of the few dishes our waitress hadn’t tried for herself yet, we naively went along with her suggestion of having the chops cooked medium. This we found is what possibly left the chops a little tough, unlike others we’ve had in the past that could be cut with a butter knife. We were also sad to hear it was the chef’s preference to order his lamb from Australia. We know of at least one local farm that produces incredible lamb products and were thrilled to hear the chef at The Gryphon is looking into a more local source. This also ended up being another dish we gave mixed reviews on regarding the seasoning. While one of us thought it was perfect, the other wished there had been more.
- For dessert we requested the flourless Chocolate Torte. We’re not sure if there were only two dessert options, or if there was a dessert menu we weren’t offered – but it sounded like our options were between that and bread pudding. Obviously we had to go for the chocolate…it has been a long month (if you catch our drift).
The interior of The Gryphon is wonderfully eye catching and designed by Grupo-7 who has also done work for Public Bar, Public Tenley and Sushi Rock as well as a number of other hospitality projects in DC and worldwide. Gorgeous wooden tables, and floors are spaced out in the dining room along with blue lighting from the bar, leather seating, antler light fixtures, and a breath taking crystal chandelier making the interior feel cozy and classy without being stuffy.
The Gryphon is a place we’d like to try again to note any changes, enhancements, and check out the rest of the menu without having to worry about a guest’s preferences. We think in the coming months they’ll continue to improve and find their stride. We enjoyed the overall concept (Vegetarians, this is not your spot.) and think everything balanced out nicely for an pleasant, meaty dinner experience.
Beginning Monday, July 1, The Gryphon will offer lunch service. And as a little tidbit of information I was handed, a trial run of their lunch during the USA/Germany World Cup Game found them running out of their sandwiches. So, that’s a good sign, right?
1337 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036
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