by Jaclyn Jecha
Nestled amongst the hustle and bustle of DuPont Circle neighborhood is The Gryphon featuring a revamped menu, focusing on the social experience. Chef Joseph Evans, a native of Texas, created the menu and promises bold flavors, prime cuts of meat and fresh seafood. We were invited by the restaurant to take their new concept for a spin.
We arrived right at the beginning of social hour, which was perfect timing. Happy hour features half-price drinks (although, not off the specialty cocktail menu) and half-price items from the raw bar (again, some restrictions apply). The restaurant features a good size patio that flows right into the restaurant. (A panel of windows, stretching the entire length of the entrance, can be open or closed, depending on the weather.) Right away, we knew it was made for socializing.
After a short walk after work on a warm July day, we wanted to start with something light and refreshing. We each ordered a drink off of the specialty cocktails menu. One drink was “The Gryphon” featuring Grey Goose Orange, strawberry puree, simple syrup, lime juice, and a splash of soda. It was bright and refreshing. The strawberries gave it a pleasant sugary rush and also turned it a delightful pink color. The Centaur Kick featured Jack Daniels honey and lemon and was summer in a mason jar with just the slightest kick of whiskey. For a lemonade, it wasn’t too sweet, but well balanced with the honey.
To accompany the drinks, we ordered the sea bass ceviche from the raw menu. It was a generous serving (which is great for a happy hour price) that had a really great lime and orange flavor. We can’t get enough lime, so it was perfect for us. It also had spicy pepper and red onion that gave it a great kick. It was served with plantain chips.
The restaurant really emphasizes the social aspect so it features plenty of small plates to share with friends. The menu also has larger portions of proteins and sandwiches if you’re not in the sharing mood. We decided to get a few small plates in order to try a little bit of everything.
Our favorite dish out of the five we ordered was the sirloin. It was cooked perfectly according to our preference (always medium-rare) and seasoned well. The sear on it gave it a nice crispy outside but the inside was perfectly pink and just warmed through. Served alongside the steak were steak frites, homemade steak sauce and ketchup. And, while the steak sauce was great, to cover up the meat with it would be a crime. Save it for the fries!
Another great dish was the hanger steak, which was recommended by our very friendly and knowledgable waiter. It was served simply with a ginger scallion sauce that added a nice, bright compliment to the meaty hanger steak.
And, of course, we couldn’t pass up trying the pork belly. It was served on a crostini with pork rinds and a fried egg. The pork belly was seasoned well and wasn’t greasy. There was a lot of great texture happening with the dish too. Who doesn’t love a dish with pork rinds?!
We also tried the shrimp and grits. The creamy grits were topped with perfectly cooked shrimp bacon, tomato and charred scallions surrounded by a scallion oil. The oil really gave it brightness that made the flavors pop. While the dish itself was strong, we both agreed that a little more kick would’ve made it complete. (But, we tend it like our shrimp and grits with a dash – or three – of hot sauce.)
The final dish we tried was the short ribs with roasted radishes and a pineapple mustard glaze. We loved the radishes – which were a bit of a surprise. However, the meat, while extremely tender, could’ve used a little extra seasoning to bring it to life.
We couldn’t complete the meal without dessert. We couldn’t choose between their two choices – a flour less chocolate torte or a bread pudding – so we tried them both. The flour less chocolate torte was covered in a berry compote. The torte itself was rich and extremely dense and chocolately. The bread pudding was warm and served with vanilla gelato and a bourbon sauce. Both of the desserts were gone in about 2 minutes – they were that good.
Overall, the experience was great. We can definitely see The Gryphon as a place to meet friends after work to de-stress after a long day with delicious drinks and food. Be sure to stop by the new Gryphon to experience Chef Joseph Evans’ creations for yourself!
Photos: Dan Jecha