Hotel Griffou

2009_06_hotelgrif1 Last night we had dinner at Hotel Griffou.  One of the questions of the evening, as there were many, was about transparency in blogging that I wrote about earlier this week.  Would I be
honest about the food this evening considering I know one of the investors?
Would I accentuate the positive and sweep the negative gently under the
carpet? Good question.

So, I need to be honest about my connection to Hotel Griffou.  I was introduced to
one of the investors in the deal and then through that met the owners, etc.
I saw the restaurant when the walls were being put up.  Conceptually a great idea.  The attention to the physical details was impressive. They were raising a lot of cash, considering the times, and the guys
behind it, although seasoned in the restaurant business have never had their own place. In essence, they were not the guys making payroll, they were the guys that had managed and created the ambiance.

The restaurant itself is really well done.  A variety of different rooms with
different themes and a total hipster vibe.  Nice big bar area, low ceilings, feels a little bit like an old time
speakeasy.  When I first saw the whole concept, the one thing that
threw me was the menu as I figured it was a work in progress.  I didn't say a thing because I wasn't going to invest.  We are invested in one restaurant now and figure we will see how that goes first.  Now that the restaurant has opened and customers are streaming in, I have to say, whats up with the menu.

The menu is reminiscent of a 1950's dinner party. My guess is that as the owners did research on the place, hence the name Hotel Griffou which it was once called, that they would do something retro with the menu.  I should have come with a bouffant hairdo.  When we sat down, the four of us couldn't find a thing on the menu that even appealed to us.  What really made me take pause was the pork dish that
actually has in parentheses that the recipe comes from 1892.  Why would I
want to eat something that was first conceived of in 1892?  Did the chef
come from that generation too?  The food is honestly inedible, from
appetizers to dessert.  We tried a lot of different things too.  We ordered 4 appetizers, one extra came thanks to my friend so that makes 5, 3 entrees and 2 desserts.

I could go through the list of things we tried but why bother?  Everything
is heavy handed, laden with sauces and tarragon, even the french fries are
awful.  Oh, on second thought, I must comment on a few things, how can I not.  Sliced duck
covered in beets, sauce and pieces of orange and heavy pepper, a block of
beef, overcooked and tasteless hamburger, where are the asparagus underneath
all that sauce, what's up with the lobster thermador fondue (mac and glue with some lobster tossed in), slabs of bone marrow with sauteed red onions on toast, freezing cold shrimp with a bitter
mayonnaise laden celery root salad, steak tartare with what in it, not sure
and a special of trout belly but where was it under all the sauces and
veggies and oh, what was that cookie on the plate that my friend spit out. 
Ok, I've had my fun. I figured we should go all the way and try a dessert or two to see if that could possibly be awful too and it is.  The cookie platter is disgusting.  The cookies taste like
they were the first batch made from Sara Lee in the 1960's.  Its not easy
making an inedible chocolate chip cookie.  The banana butterscotch pudding
tasted like it came out of a can.  Perhaps it did because they were still
defrosting the chef from 1892.  I don't think I have ever been this harsh in a food post but honestly, it was one of the worst meals I have had in recent memory and not cheap.  When a restaurant looks that good, they should try to match it with a good meal.

On another note, the front room, which is located under the sidewalk,
is a private room for 12.  There is something very humid and moldy
smelling in there which they should seriously look into and quick.

Such a complete waste of cash.  The space is cool, the location is great,
the people behind it are really nice and care….fire the chef, change the
menu and get into 2009 and out of 1892 but quick or the only thing that will
be roaming around those rooms come January are the ghosts of 1892 still
looking for leftovers of the pork dish.  

Comments (Archived):

  1. scottythebody

    haha! Great last paragraph

  2. Florent Peyre

    Well… I almost wanted to go there (actually was thinking as dinner for Friday night)… but with that review, you killed it. Maybe it’s still worth having a drink at the bar? Peanuts anyone?A bit like what I always end up doing at Freeman’s where there’s no booking possible under 6 people. Thanks for the review. Very helpful.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Good place for a drink, though.

  3. nameright

    you are an idiot

  4. nameright

    seriously…i think you know nothing about food and how many people enjoy the richness and decadence of turn of the century food or what they are all about at hotel griffou… besides you are a blogger which right away makes people laugh at you..and judging by your taste in music from your music of the moment over there…i mean…haha… Lykke Li? hahaha..hahahhaGriffou is awesome…dont listen to this chick

    1. Florent Peyre

      Mmmh… I understand your point… It’s just that the tone and the anonymous character of it doesn’t inspire me a lot…

      1. nameright

        perhaps my tone was harsh…i take it back… but the tone of the review was harsh… way too harsh..and too self righteous… i’m just sick of bloggers speaking like they are frank bruni or any one with any sort of credibility…the proper way to have worded it would have been… like.. i dont understand food from the eighteen hundreds and didnt enjoy it my self but give it a might love it..i mean ask a real aristocrat of the world if they like steak diane…and i found the banana pudding awesome and so did my girlfriend when we dined there…the atmosphere there was great, the service was really perfect and freindly too..def give this place a shot… (if you can get in pretty soon i feel..)and as for the anonimiyity…come on… this is the internet… i have a real life..and as for Lykke Li…hey i actually like her album…i just think gotham gal should stop digging through her daughters ITunes to try and stay hip..which is exactly the reason i know she will prob still be wanting to be seen at Hotel Griffou in the future

        1. fredwilson

          nameright – if you read this blog every day, then you know that Gotham Gal calls it as she sees it (or in this case tastes it). you don’t have to read this blog and i am sure you don’t. but over 10,000 people a month do and they expect her to tell them what she really thinks. she did in this case and you don’t like it. i get that. it’s ok. but to suggest that she doesn’t know about food or mocking her taste in music sounds like anger to me. maybe you are involved in Hotel Griffou? She disclosed her conflict of interest. if you’ve got an interest, maybe you should case you don’t know, i am her husband and biggest fan.

          1. kirklove

            Awww. Fred defending his woman. Right on. But something tells me she doesn’t need it one bit. I wouldn’t tangle with her that’s for sure. Ha.And GG keep up the good work and honest opinions. It’s why I come here and why I trust your reviews. Loved the Sara Lee line. Classic.

        2. daryn

          Gotham Gal has a loyal following that she has earned complete credibility with. I easily trust and enjoy GG’s posts as much as Bruni’s column, because 1. this isn’t her job, 2. I’ve read lots of her reviews and compared them with my own experiences, and 3. I know how our tastes align and diverge.There was nothing snarky about the post, just GG sharing with her readers that her experience with the food at Griffou was terrible, and didn’t live up to the space’s potential at all. I’d hope the owners read this, accept the criticism, and consider improvements.As for being harsh and self-rightous: nobody wins when people aren’t honest. And what would be the point in a review that sits on the fence with statements like “i dont understand food from the eighteen hundreds and didnt enjoy it my self but give it a might love it..” GG described the food clearly, and said she didn’t like it. I appreciate that, and at the same time, I can imagine exactly what that canned butterscotch banana favor must have tasted like, and you know what, I’m pretty sure i’d enjoy it!

          1. Gotham Gal

            Thanks Daryn. Love the last line.

  5. Yule Heibel

    I’ve once or twice given local (Victoria BC) restaurants a bad write-up on my blog, and found that doing so is sure to inspire conniptions in some commenters. It’s as though you’re not allowed to be blunt about bad food – there’s always someone who just loves whatever style of cooking you know should be retired. (For example, there’s an atrocious “German” restaurant here, which makes some of the same mistakes you describe – food that tastes pre-made, from a can, too salty, too gunky, too yuck, except all at a much cheaper scale – yet there are people who think the place has “atmosphere” and even “authenticity” – yodeling and lederhosen?, gag me with a bratwurst – and they defend its food. Incomprehensible, but true.)I like your review, and either some other reviewers are going to step up to make an impassioned defense of the menu and food (in which case, all you can do is say, “there’s no accounting for taste” and leave it at that), or the restaurant can see your review as a favor (something to learn from) and review its offerings.It’s a sad day when restaurant critiques inspire comments like “you are an idiot” – but, like I said, I’ve gotten the same response from people here when I “dissed” local eateries. Even though all informed, detailed criticism should be welcomed (because it can only strengthen the person/ thing critiqued), it seems to bring out the worst protectionist instincts in some.Don’t be deterred, this was a great write-up (and funny, to boot).

    1. Gotham Gal

      Yule,I can always count on you for good back up. “Gag me with a bratwurst” is classic. Agreed, there is absolutely no accounting for taste. Ha!joanne [email protected]

  6. David Semeria

    I have a no idea how I got here, probably clicked on one of Fred’s links – but woah! – who said food blogs were dull?I admire your guts Gotham Gal. One of my best friends owns a big restaurant. I have very strong opinions about the food there. Let’s just say it’s not his strong point. However, apart from some gentle hints and occasional sendings-of-things-back that’s a far as I (or some mutual friends) have gone.A write-up like yours would definitely be terminal from a friendship aspect – but that’s just touchy Europeans for you.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I see you are based in Milan. Love Milan.

      1. David Semeria

        Milan is good to visit, bad to live in.The Milanese call it the ‘big office’ – work there during the week, and then get away at the weekends. Italy as a whole is beautiful though. Timeless.

        1. Gotham Gal

          Agreed. We love Italy. Went to Milan this past year. Always interested in returning to Italy. Love the people, the food, the culture and the clothesjoanne [email protected]

          1. David Semeria

            My old job basically entailed me entertaining clients in some of Europe’s best restaurants – nice work if you can get it, and I got it whilst I tried :-)Since you clearly like your food, I can tell you that my two personal favourites are Brussels and the little towns around the Alba region in Piedmont.Brussels for fish – cold sea fish: lobster, crab, oysters etc. The Parisians use too many sauces – in Brussels (probably not by coincidence the home of the European Parliament) the food is beautifully presented, and the flavours are exceptionally delicate.Piedmont for white truffles – the best meals I have ever eaten. The food reflects the values of the local people – never ornate, never showy. Substance over form. When matched with their wines (the best in Italy) – the result is culinary perfection. If you’re enticed, remember that you’ll need to book at least 4-6 months in advance for the best restaurants during the truffle season (late Oct – early Dec).

          2. Gotham Gal

            Good to know about Piedmont. Never been. Didn’t love Brussels.

  7. Erin Newkirk

    I am a regular reader of Gotham Gal’s blog + appreciate her true (and informed) opinion. As a business owner, I have occasionally felt the sting of less than favorable feedback. But every single time someone takes the time to comment on my business and/or service I consider myself lucky. Feedback is a gift. A business is a moving target. And success is about becoming the very best at what you do. Critiques that do not kill you make you stronger. Since Gotham Gal often gives restaurants a second chance + posts reviews based on follow-up visits, I think there is a ton of opportunity for this restaurant to take this review + run with it.

  8. Amagansett Mama

    You go girl!

    1. nameright

      awww Fred… hey gotham gal is awesome…i love that she speaks her mind and has a loyal following..but then again…so did hitler and osama bin laden..thats what makes the world go round

  9. Cathy

    yes, but what did you really think??

  10. jlwalker

    I don’t know what Gotham Girl was smoking when she ate at Hotel Griffou, but our meal was wonderful. The beef in the steak diane melted in our mouth the lobster and fish were succulent and the fries were addicting. Maybe you have something against success and your off the wall “review” is meant to help your “investment”. To each his own… more room for those who enjoy a hip new place that serves amazing meals and great service. DEFINITELY worth the money and checking out for yourself. Did I mention the signature cocktails will also have you craving a second visit?

    1. Gotham Gal

      As my father used to say, that’s why they make vanilla ice cream. To each its own.joanne [email protected]

  11. Kenny

    I went there anyway just to check it out, in spite of reading this. I loved Hotel Griffou. Whoa, your review is a complete sham. You’ve lost your credibility with me dear. Way to be a professional.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Sorry to hear that. Perhaps I should returnjoanne [email protected]

  12. Florent Peyre

    I don’t necessarily want to come back to that old debate here but I had a little and discreet smile when I read yesterday (I’ve been runnin’ late on my NYMag subscription) the though review from Adam Platt on Hotel Griffou (second part of this article….Anyway, haven’t had a chance to check it out so will have a drink there…

    1. Gotham Gal

      I did too. Thanks.