Griffon Pub Elevates Bar Food in Niagara Falls

I lost track of how many there are! - Photo via buffalo.com

I lost track of how many there are! – Photo via buffalo.com

Much the way it reinvigorated the pub culture and British dining in the early 1990s, the gastropub has changed the way Western New Yorkers think about traditional bar food. Places like Blue Monk and Winfield’s Pub have elevated the cuisine served in local pubs and made patrons crave these spots for more than just a proper pint. In Niagara Falls, The Griffon Pub & Restaurant brings this relatively new tradition to Niagara County and provides diners with exciting cuisine alongside high quality craft beer. Last week, the staff of What’s Going On In Buffalo? was invited to The Griffon Pub to experience firsthand the stellar beer list and reinvented bar food that it’s been offering on Military Road since the Fall of 2013. The quality and quantity of beer selections were as good as the service and food.

We arrived at dinner time on a Thursday night and The Griffon Pub was already busy. By the time we left, there was a line for tables and the bar was filled with patrons enjoying libations and watching hockey. We immediately began to look over a beer list that was as long as the menu. The beer list features 50 beers on tap (in addition to bottles) with styles including lagers, ales, IPAs, stouts and more. There is plenty of local craft beer representation, as well as beers from across the country and the world. One side of the menu features “Pub Food,” including favorites such as nachos, pizza logs, chicken fingers and wings. The other side is full of the higher-end bar food that you’d expect to find on the menu at a gastropub. This is the side of the menu we chose to explore.

The gastropub menu features categories such as “Food B4 Food,” “Soup-er,” “Not So Rabbit Food-ish” and “Creative Entrees.” There were also plenty of options under the headings “Inventive Sandwiches” and “Fresh Handmade Burgers.” We ultimately decided to share a few appetizers (“Food B4 Food”) to start: Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs ($7), Kickin’ Scotch Egg ($5.50), Lobster and Crab Cakes ($10) and Black and Tan Onion Rings ($6). To follow the starters, we selected the Blueberry Filet Mignon ($38), Chicken and Waffle Sandwich ($13) and the Bacon Jam Burger ($14).

Our discussion of the Bills’ offseason moves and the Sabres’ race for 30th place was just getting started when the appetizers arrived. The Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs had a traditional base for deviled eggs – hard boiled eggs filled with a fluffy mixture made with the cooked yolks and other ingredients. As the name would suggest, the filling in this version featured shredded chicken, crumbled blue cheese, diced celery & carrots and a good dose of hot sauce. The eggs were topped with more hot sauce and plated with sticks of celery with blue cheese piled on top. The eggs were very flavorful and were a true Western New York twist on this classic hors d’oeuvre. The blue cheese, chicken and hot sauce went very well with the rich egg yolks.

Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs

Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs

The Scotch Egg was very close to its classic preparation – a hardboiled egg wrapped in an herbed pork sausage, breaded and fried. The twist came when the breading it was coated in was mixed with Cajun seasoning and it was served with a citrus mustard sauce. The crispy exterior was a nice textural contrast to the soft egg and the well seasoned sausage made for a tasty appetizer.

Kickin' Scotch Egg

Kickin’ Scotch Egg

Black and Tan Onion Rings can be ordered as a starter or served alongside one of the numerous sandwiches or burgers substituted for waffle fries for an additional $2. The onion rings were thick cut and hand battered in a batter made with Harp Lager. They were drizzled with a Guinness reduction and served with barbecue sauce. The rings featured a crispy outside that paired classically with the tender onion inside. The batter wasn’t too heavy and went very well with the sweetness of the reduction and barbecue sauce.

 

Black & Tan Onion Rings

Black & Tan Onion Rings

Lobster and Crab Cakes were stuffed with fresh pulled lobster meat and lump blue crab, as well as diced red and green bell peppers. The cakes were coated in panko mixed with Old Bay and flash fried. The cakes were served over pickled pineapple and drizzled with red pepper aioli. These may have been the best dish of the night. They were packed with lobster and crab meat as opposed to a lot of filler that can be seen at other places. They were cooked to a nice golden brown and gave a delightfully crispy bite that was a good contrast to the soft, fluffy interior. The pineapple was more understated than I’d expected, which was welcomed. Their piquancy accentuated the flavor of the cakes. The perceptible bite of heat from the aioli rounded out the dish and balanced its richness.

Lobster Crab Cakes

Lobster Crab Cakes

Blueberry Filet Mignon

Blueberry Filet Mignon

I could have thrown the towel in right there. The food was great and I was rather full, but we had more to eat! The entrees arrived shortly after the starter plates had been cleared. First up was Jason’s Blueberry Filet Mignon. The 8 oz. center cut filet was grilled to a perfect medium and topped with a Gorgonzola/thyme compound butter and a sweet potato nest. The steak was perched atop a fresh Maine blueberry bourbon crisp and a blueberry shallot demi-glace. It was also served with a savory Gorgonzola leek crème brulee and charred asparagus. The steak was tender and flavorful thanks to plenty of that rich compound butter. The sweetness of the demi-glace was understated and paired well with the richness of the cheese. The crème brulee was rich and complimented the steak nicely. The well-cooked asparagus rounded out the plate.

Then came Kevin’s Chicken and Waffle Sandwich. This monster of a sandwich featured a southern spiced, buttermilk battered and panko crusted fried chicken breast between a halved, freshly made Belgian waffle. The chicken was topped with jalapeño slaw, applewood smoked bacon and sliced Wisconsin cheddar. The sandwich was also slathered in a spicy maple mayonnaise. It was big enough to split, and we all were able to try this rich treat. The chicken was cooked properly with a slightly crispy exterior and a tender, juicy interior. The spicy slaw and smoky bacon played off the richness of the cheese and the sweetness of the waffle and syrup. It was filling and delicious. For his side, Kevin chose the flavorful coconut ginger Basmati rice ($2).

Chicken & Waffle Sandwich

Chicken & Waffle Sandwich

My half pound burger was also a site to behold. It was made from a freshly ground blend of chuck, short rib and sirloin made exclusively for the pub. It was served on a grilled brioche bun and topped with maple bourbon bacon jam, Gorgonzola, arugula and tomato. As if that weren’t enough, a fried egg completed the burger, which was perfectly cooked to medium rare as I’d requested. It was full of rich beef flavor and was quite juicy. The jam had plenty of salt and smoke from the bacon that was nicely balanced with the sweetness of the bourbon and onions. The egg was a great touch to crown this filling treat. On the side, I opted for the smoked gouda shells and cheese that was recommended to me by several people. The dish was rich and creamy and had great depth of flavor from the smokiness of the gouda. I couldn’t finish all of it, but I’d order it again.

Bacon Jam Burger

Bacon Jam Burger

Love Pillows

Love Pillows

After all that, I couldn’t find room for anything else. Luckily, Jason was still not done and was able enjoy one of the pub’s desserts. While most of the desserts come from The Village Bake Shoppe in Lewiston, Jason opted for the one dessert made in-house – the Love Pillows. Little balls of fried dough were served piping hot in a bowl adorned with chocolate sauce, raspberry sauce and crème anglaise. The dough was light and fluffy with a slightly crispy exterior. With the variety of sauces and volume of dough, this was a dessert so tasty and filling that Jason had to take much of it home.

The Griffon Pub & Restaurant has become a destination for both craft beer and great pub fare in Niagara Falls. In the next few weeks, The Griffon Pub will be bringing this recipe for success to another location at 5445 Transit Road in Clarence. The additional location of the pub will offer the same type of menu and 100 beers on tap. Be ready for more details as the new venue opens.

At its location in Niagara Falls at 2470 Military Road, The Griffon Pub & Restaurant is open seven days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. You can call (716) 236-7474 for reservations or pop in and belly up to the bar for a great beer. Check it out the next time you’re in the area, or make a trip of it!

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  1. Sunday Reading: 3/8/15 | Buffalo Eats - March 8, 2015

    […] Michael visits The Griffon Pub in Niagara Falls [What’s Going On?] […]

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