A, B, C, D, E, F, M at W. 4th St.-Washington Sq.; 1 at Christopher St.-Sheridan Sq.
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This venue is closed.
Johnny Swet and Larry Poston, veterans of nouveaux speakeasies like the Waverly Inn and Freeman’s, opened this subterranean eatery in 2009. The space has a storied history—its various incarnations include the Penguin Club and Marylou’s, the infamous eighties after-hours spot. As Griffou, the collection of interconnected rooms retains the original layout and even the long wooden bar, which fills up on the weekends with downtown creative types and the occasional celebrity. It’s also the source of a rotating selection of artisanal cocktails such as the Talented Mr. Ripley, with Michter’s rye, honey bitters, and an actual grilled lemon, and Navy Grog, made with three different types of rum. The décor goes through seasonal transformations but maintains numerous nods to the restaurant’s past—the worn wooden floors, walls hung with an eclectic selection of art, and mismatched patterns on the banquettes reference the boarding house the space was in the 1870s, when it was run by Madame Griffou, the restaurant’s namesake. The menu underwent a transformation of its own after the kitchen was taken over by Mark Strausman, of Fred’s at Barneys, with French-American offerings getting switched out for rustic Italian dishes. Gnocchi is now served with a rich cream sauce and chanterelles in a cast iron pan; a half chicken, moist and beautifully bronzed, comes laid atop airy mashed potatoes, and an autumn salad, with beets, pumpkin seeds, arugula, and goat cheese, is impeccably fresh. For private dining there’s also the room known as the wine vault (it sits right next to the wine cellar), which has brick vaulted ceilings and dangling chandeliers, and has been known to seat the likes of Beyoncé.Note
If you have a taste for absinthe, try the Iceberg, made with lime and Chartreuse.Ideal Meal
Roman gnocchi with chanterelles, $16; spicy half Eberley Farm Chicken, $26