Portuguese Makeover at a Village Hot Spot

Something unexpected is happening at Hotel Griffou, a restaurant known less for its food and more for its bar and boldface names. Chef David Santos (5 & Diamond), who arrived last fall, is gradually steering the traditional American menu toward Portugal, starting with Sunday brunch (link leads to a pdf file). Chowhounds, who've had little to say about the place, are suddenly paying attention.

hcbk0702 declares the pasteis bacalhau a must-order: beautifully fried fritters with a delicate crust enclosing a satisfying mixture of salt cod, potato, and egg. The kitchen shows a deft hand with the fryer: Pumpkin sonhos, a sweet off-menu lagniappe, are also done just right, little doughnutlike bites with tart house-made cranberry jam. Sardines escabeche, topped with peppery arugula, are fresh and vibrantly flavored. Leitao assado is another highlight: crisp-skinned roasted suckling pig with smashed fingerlings and a simple salad, brightened by a touch of citrus. "It was a deeply satisfying plate of food," hcbk reports, "with blood orange acting as an inspired foil to rich, fragrant tendrils of pork."

hcbk applauds Santos for "admirably bucking the trend of yawn-inducing brunches that are rife throughout the city. The brunch is unconventional, but I think it'll greatly appeal to people looking for something besides pancakes, waffles, etc."

Hotel Griffou [Greenwich Village]
21 W. Ninth Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues), Manhattan
212-358-0228

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