To celebrate Valentine's, my boyfriend Bao and I decided to take advantage of a great Groupon deal for a place called The Gryphon. The concept of picking several small dishes to try out different creations (like tapas) sounded perfect.
Although I was already excited to have a quiet dinner with him, I was pleasantly surprised when he showed up at my door, hiding the most gorgeous snowboard (my first ever!) beside the front wall. We agreed on no gifts this year... but he completely put that to shame. In the time that I've known him, I've noticed he puts so much thought and consideration into his gifts. After all my giddy inner-child-jumping-for-joy and hugging (him and the board haha), we proceeded to our dinner destination.
The Gryphon DC
1337 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
Finding parking in DC has always been a struggle for me, so thankfully he drove us to the restaurant. We found a nice spot close by, and walked past an upbeat crowd that looked to be a part of a bar crawl. When we found the brightly lit sign above the entrance, we opened a large glass paneled door and made our way inside.
My first impression of The Gryphon: dark lounge, vampire lair. Silly, but as soon as you walk in there was an elaborate bar on the right, and heavy black tapestry sectioning off the back. There were chandeliers made entirely of elk horns arranged in to fit together seamlessly, and prison bars over a makeshift window. We were seated right away and our friendly waitress Amber came by to introduce herself and give us a rundown on all the best dishes.
What had originally thrown me off about the decor soon became a eccentric touch that I grew to appreciate. The low, warm lighting added to the overall ambiance, the plushy leather chairs we sat in were comfortable. The entire menu looks promising - there are a few main entrees to choose from, several raw bar options, and a plethora of small dishes (called Social Bites) towards the end.
We started off with Amber's recommendation of the Striped Bass Ceviche. The striped bass was marinated in a tart lime, orange, grapefruit, cilantro and red onion juice that was so refreshing. The plantain chips to place the tender striped bass pieces were the perfect compliment to this starter.
I wish I had gotten a better photo of this dish - admittedly I was shy at first whipping out my dslr for a quiet dinner out - but this was my favorite dish hands down!
Next up, seeing as we both love raw oysters, we ordered an assortment. I remember years ago of a large family gathering, where we all sat around our old kitchen table shucking a plethora of fresh raw oysters from a special seafood market. I probably had over four dozen raw oysters that day (you either love them or hate them haha). I particularly love topping with a dot of hot sauce and drizzle of lemon, and decided to add the horseradish and vinegar mix this time around.
We chose to try each of the three choices on the menu: Sting Ray from Rappahannock River, Virginia, Tom's Cove from Chincoteague, Virginia and Malpeque from Prince Edward Island, Canada. Bao and I liked the Malpeque most, as it's the plumpest of the group. I ended up adding a spoonful of the ceviche juices to compliment the oysters further. I highly recommend!
As we finished up our oysters, the social bites started to arrive at our table. We both love a great cut of meat (there are ribeyes, dry-aged sirloins, lamb and filets available) but opted for the smaller dishes to get a bigger range of flavor. As we grazed over the menu, Amber let us know her favorite items; her excitement for particular dishes convinced our choices.
The first dish pictured above is proscuitto wrapped monkfish atop asparagus and black eyed peas in a smooth champagne butter sauce. We were pretty excited about this dish since Bao hadn't had monkfish in years, and the dish was fairly good. The monkfish was dense and the proscuitto was cut a little thick, but the overall flavors were wonderful. I especially loved how the chef sliced the asparagus at an angle to maintain a crisp and flavorful bite.
Next dish I was excited about was the fried caesar parmesan brussel sprouts. I love brussel sprouts steamed, roasted, grilled, any way really. These were fried in peanut oil with fresh grated parmesan, definitely a rich and decadent treat. I loved how the brussel sprouts were presented in a small cast iron "dutch oven".
Finally we tried our short ribs with roasted radishes, pineapple mustard glaze and scallion oil. These short ribs were chewier than expected (I was imagining a braised beef stew-type tenderness), but the sweet pineapple mustard glaze complimented it perfectly. By this time of the meal, we still had a good amount of food left but our tummies were full! These were small dishes compared to the standard restaurant fare, but we hadn't come into dinner absolutely starving.
The overall experience for The Gryphon was a wonderful one. Having an informative and bubbly waitress, trying varied unique dishes, and enjoying the eclectic atmosphere was memorable.
Until next time!