Craft beer gastropub extraordinaire: The Griffin

I cannot believe it has taken me this long to make a trip to this popular watering hole. The main reason for this is that I see myself more as a dinner and conversation than a drinks and can’t-hear-what-you-are-saying person. I find the concept of just drinks at dinner time strange. I guess it is more the case that going out for drinks sounds cooler than going out for dinner.

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Situated in Illovo Junction, parking is always a problem here. You have to either pay the rip off price of R20 or park on the street a distance away. The parking situation doesn’t seem to deter the masses and if you have been to The Griffin it is easy to see why. Marketed as a craft beer gastropub this is definitely the perfect place to meet for drinks. The Griffin is certainly offering a unique set up and vibe to the pub scene. Its upmarket nature makes the ladies feel just at ease as the guys do.

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I loved how they have redefined the look of a pub. This is classy, clean and pretty I dare say. The decor and furniture is done in wood with turquoise accents which provides a very inviting charming ambience. Beer barrels repurposed into mirrors hang on a wall and add to the charm. You can see that great attention has been paid to the décor with pictures of Griffins spotted along the walls, a craft beer wall, gorgeous chandelier and trendy light fittings. The layout is a great combination of the normal tables and chairs, benches, window couches and bar stools.

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What struck me first at The Griffin was the unfriendliness; from the grumpy stern bouncer to the unfriendly manager dealing with bookings I didn’t feel welcome. Our waiter however more than made up for this with his charming and friendly manner. I thought for an extremely busy night he did well checking up on us regularly as well as advising us on the menu. Service for me was definitely good considering how busy the place got.

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If you have a table the waiter will take your drinks order and you don’t have to order at the bar. The draw card here has to be the craft beer on offer. Craft beer is just one of the latest food/drink crazes. For those not in the know, craft beer is beer that has not been brewed by a big corporation. The Griffin offers seven craft beers and a cider on tap. If you love your beer or craft beer this definitely warrants a trip. Beware that craft beer doesn’t come cheap at R50 a bottle. I tried the virgin strawberry daiquiri which was a very expensive average juice – give it a skip. The wide range of cocktails are certain to keep the ladies happy as well.

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The snacks include popcorn, nuts, biltong, fish fingers and chicken wings. I love that there is creativity in the snacks on offer. Platters are quite expensive (R180/R240) and aren’t good value for money, rather order starters if you are feeling nibbly.

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The food was the only disappointment for me. I chose the crab fettuccine with coriander, chilli, lime and creme fraiche (R105). As majority of the ingredients in this dish are white, green pasta was incorporated to bring in some colour. A cardinal sin for me is that the pasta was broken into short pieces. Why cut up beautiful long strands of pasta into short pieces?! The resulted in mushy pasta that stuck together. The flavours present in the dish tasted strange and didn’t work. When using an ingredient like crab it would have been nice to actually eat fleshy pieces of the meat that you can see and taste. I think crab works better in a fresher Asian inspired dish with more flavoursome ingredients. Though I was quite hungry I couldn’t only force myself to eat a quarter of it and remained hungry. I was really disappointed that the parmesan provided was the stinky, crumbly, cheap kind that made the dish taste worse.

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Presentation of the beer battered hake, boiled potatoes (instead of chips), minted crushed peas, smoked paprika tartare sauce and pickled onion (R85) left much to be desired. The two unappetizing blobs of hake had no taste, the peas tasted just of mint and the tartare sauce had no paprika flavour to it. This was a bland, expensive dish with elements that didn’t work together.

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A few people in our group ordered the griffin gourmet burger with handcut chips, tomato relish and pickles (R85). The burgers were average and certainly not impressive enough to warrant the price. The only food that was good here had to be the chips!

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A suggestion if you are going to order food here is to order two starters or a salad like one wise dinner companion did. The chilli salt squid with Asian coleslaw, coriander, lime, pickled radish and five-spice aioli (R48) paired with parmesan and rocket salad (R25) was one of the better tasting meals.

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A warning for the germaphobes: the unisex bathrooms are the epitome of grossness and don’t get cleaned during the night. The place gets extremely busy and hence noisy so be warned that you won’t be able to hear the person next to you later in the evening.

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If you have a moment check out their website, it is as snazzy and upmarket as the pub itself PLUS you can make bookings online – a big brand plus in my books. The Griffin is a place to be seen at, a great option for a classy upmarket pub with a wide range of craft beer to enjoy. I would not have thought I could enjoy hanging out in a pub but this is a hangout to relax with friends, enjoy a craft beer or meet new people. My advice is to have dinner at a restaurant nearby and visit The Griffin for drinks after. Expect plenty of people and noise if you do go to the trendiest and hippest pubs at the moment!

Click: http://thegriffin.co.za/
Ring: (011) 447 9842
Hop: Illovo Junction, Illovo

Gastropubs & Craft Beer,
CG

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