As you walk into the speakeasy style entrance of Hotel Griffou and through a dark set of curtains, you are warmly greeted by a set of very attractive hostesses, which, of course, means very little to the consumer unless the food is good. Its young chef, David Santos, who has trained under the likes of David Bouley and Thomas Keller, does not disappoint.
Hotel Griffou is the mastermind of seasoned and serious restaurateurs that have graced other restaurants, such as Freemans and The Waverly Inn. Once a boarding house, Hotel Griffou is now a catacomb of late night food and friendly debauchery wrapped up with an admirable décor. There are several different dining rooms all with very different vibes and loads of history. Each has a title, such as the Salon, the Library, and Palm Terrace. There is such beauty, youth, and excitement in each one that it creates an eclectic sensory overload for late-night dining.
After overcoming your nostalgia (if you're old enough to remember Mary Lou's) you can chat about the “old days" while noshing on elevated late-night grub. Santos' food has improved since those early days when reviews were less than average. Santos cooks from the heart and is a perfectionist with everything he does.
Try the Goat Bolognese — a perfect harmony of pasta and condimenti. He regularly does the rounds around the restaurant — so approachable, personable, and taking the time to greet tables like he doesn’t have a care in the world. Hotel Griffou is full of New York’s gorgeous, young, successful, and famous people. It's considered quite “the scene.”
The menu changes often, as Santos is always searching for the culinary journey to perfection. He always seems to deliver. His burger has weathered the ever-changing menu and is a juicy monolith of beef with oven-dried tomatoes and crispy pommes frites. Try the seared scallops with tomatillo, avocado, and piquillo pepper — delightful. The cavatelli is no slouch either. It's pasta studded with pepper and pecorino. Also, the farro risotto with Parmesan, nettles, and carrots is a winner. From the large plates, order roast chicken with mushrooms and creamy polenta. You can't go wrong with Santos' wet-aged prime steak with kimchi whipped potatoes, baby bok choy, and wasabi butter.
Santos is a true chef with commitment, passion, and undying love for food, which shines through his cuisine and Hotel Griffou. Although it can be a bit expensive and reservations can be difficult to get, it's a late-night experience that makes you feel special.