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The Firkin and Gryphon restaurant review, Dunwoody

$-$$

$-$$

“Chain” — To most self-proclaimed foodies out there, it is the dirtiest of words.
I’m occasionally guilty of such snobbery myself and nearly always opt for a mom-and-pop over anything with a corporate headquarters. But the reality is that some restaurants out there strike a successful balance between quality and quantity, and I’m not ashamed to say that a few chains claim spots on my regular rotation.

Review by Jon Watson

Review by Jon Watson

I recently set off to Dunwoody to see if The Firkin and Gryphon deserved one of those spots. Based in Canada, the Firkin family of pubs includes more than 30 locations in its home country and 11 in the states, three of which are in Georgia. With more than 180 additional locations in development, this chain likely is heading to a suburb near you.
Even though it prides itself on how each location is “unique to its neighborhood,” the sense that you have stepped into a cookie-cutter chain is overwhelming. Everything is slickly branded and overproduced, from the red velvet booths to the tongue-in-cheek signs reading, “Have a Firkin good time” or “Firkin hungry?” Though locally owned, little about this pub feels local.
It bills itself as an English-style pub, so I’m not surprised to find it serving the requisite Fish ‘n’ Chips ($9) and Cottage pie ($10).
Among the slim pickings on the menu’s “Pub Favorites” section, the monstrous Chicken Pot Pie ($10) stands out. All eyes quickly turn to the hubcap-sized flaky crust that hides steamy hunks of moist chicken stewed in rich gravy.  This hearty dish would be a perfect comfort food remedy on a wintry night.

The Braised Pork Belly appetizer features a generous hunk of pork in a stew of cannellini beans, spinach and charred tomato vinaigrette. (Photos by Becky Stein / Special)

The Braised Pork Belly appetizer features a generous hunk of pork in a stew of cannellini beans, spinach and charred tomato vinaigrette. (Photos by Becky Stein / Special)

The recently overhauled menu rivals The Cheesecake Factory in its bizarre range of dishes. With the actual English fare accounting for less than 15 percent of the menu, the rest is a hodgepodge of mass appeal, ranging from pizza to barbecue. A jack-of-all-trades for sure, but a master of none.
Formerly the home of a Smokey Bones barbecue, the crew at Firkin and Gryphon inherited a pair of smokers in the kitchen. Unlike the other Firkin franchises, the Dunwoody location put the smokers to use and added a barbecue section to the menu, which immediately piqued my interest. Unfortunately, my pulled pork platter ($10) arrives wilted and mushy. Too many hours under the heat lamp robbed the bark of any texture, and the meat suffocates under a puddle of sickly sweet barbecue sauce.
The equipment isn’t completely squandered, though. Thanks to a trip through the smokers before taking a dip in the deep fryer, the crowd-pleasing World Famous Wings ($9) pack a powerful smoky punch. The Cajun wings quickly disappear from our table and remain my favorite dish offered.

A heart-attack-on-a-plate, this custom burger is loaded with jack cheese, bacon, samba mayo, pork jus and a fried egg.

A heart-attack-on-a-plate, this custom burger is loaded with jack cheese, bacon, samba mayo, pork jus and a fried egg.

A major change in the recent menu makeover is the relegation of pizza, pasta and burgers to the last page as a befuddling “do-it-yourself” section. Every ingredient in the kitchen is available as a topping, including every salad dressing, dip and sauce featured in any dish. This makes for some interesting possibilities — how often do you see pizza topped with tartar sauce and mint chutney? — but such an exhaustive list of nonsensical toppings makes the menu daunting.
However, after wading through the sea of options, I assemble a beast of a burger that I quite enjoyed. Topped with jack cheese, bacon, samba mayo, pork jus and a fried egg ($8), I happily devour this heart-attack-on-a-plate, despite battling with a quickly dissolving bun.
Sadly, for every hit on the menu, there are two misses. Although the Braised Pork Belly appetizer ($9) — a generous hunk of pork in a stew of cannellini beans, spinach and charred tomato vinaigrette — catches me off guard with the fork-tender meat and rich broth, the sausage coating around the Classic Scotch Eggs ($7) lacks any discernible flavor. Another out-of-place new addition, the Shrimp and Grits ($15), offers criminally overcooked shrimp that render the dish inedible.
If the happy-hour crowd gathered around the bar on a Thursday night is any indication, the beer remains the biggest draw here. Its selection of more than 30 draft beers is impressive, though publishing prices on the beer list is a simple and overdue improvement that the management should consider.
With a few exceptions, the food at Firkin and Gryphon, like the ambiance, feels and tastes mass-produced, the hallmark of any scorn-worthy chain. Come for happy hour and enjoy a few drinks, but wrangle up your designated driver by dinnertime.

THE FIRKIN AND GRYPHON
4764 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody 770-350-5977
FAIRstars5 Food: Pub grub, pizza, burgers, sandwiches and everything in between
Service: Prompt when not overwhelmed; off-peak hours are best
Best dishes: Cajun wings and Chicken Pot Pie
Vegetarian selections: A handful of sandwiches and salads
Price range: $-$$
Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover
Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-midnight Sundays
Children: Should be fine on an off-peak night, but this is still a pub
Parking: Ample
Reservations: No
Wheelchair access: Yes
Smoking: No
Noise level: Moderate to loud
Patio: Yes
Takeout: Yes

ratings_key_febUSE

36 comments Add your comment

Hindu Elvis Pimp

July 7th, 2011
9:44 am

I’m guessing nearly a dozen of those beers are mass produced AB.Inbev, SAB Miller Coors brands. How many were local brews?

Pat

July 7th, 2011
10:44 am

I ate there with a few friends. Everyone loved it. The menu is huge.

Road Scholar

July 7th, 2011
10:53 am

So, how many stars = Fair?

Halfoff.com has a new coupon for this restaurant, by the way. May be a good way to try this place and limit the pain?

JimmyZ

July 7th, 2011
11:02 am

We’d been to the Firkin and Crown in the Avenue Forsyth a few times, but I quit taking my daughters when they started having the servers wear less clothes than the girls at hooters. What I remember of the food seems about right. What was good, was really good. What wasn’t, really wasn’t. Sadly, more of it hit the “wasn’t’ category than the “was” category.

John

July 7th, 2011
11:30 am

Can Firkin please do something about the Lindbergh location. It’s been closed for months. Are they reopening it or not? Stop holding the whole neighborhood hostage

In Cummin

July 7th, 2011
11:31 am

Jimmy, not only did Firkin and Crown start having their servers wear less, they fired a couple of their former servers that refused to dress according to the new “standards”. The owners/operators of Firkin and Crown are scumbags and I won’t spend another penny in there because of it.

Carla Roqs

July 7th, 2011
2:00 pm

PMC

July 7th, 2011
3:23 pm

If you’re after good fish and chips head to the Old Blind Dog in Crabapple. They do them very well and properly.

david c

July 7th, 2011
3:25 pm

How authentic could anything named Firkin and Gryphon be?

Tom

July 7th, 2011
3:41 pm

I wouldn’t know this place except for Matt Chernoff on 680 ANNOYINGLY advertising for it. Its just another “bar” for the UGA grads in the area to visit maybe thinking women are there. Or the other crowd are the 40 year old adolescents who want to get away from their wives.

It won’t last.

Bob J

July 7th, 2011
3:48 pm

Based upon your review this will unfortunately be a huge hit in this city. This is exactly what Atlanta and especially OTP flocks to. This comment is not meant for everybody but we live in one of the least educated cities in the country in regards to dining of all levels. There are obvious exceptions but portion size and price are kings in this town. Not that they should not be important but why does quality have to finish a distant third or worse?

regor60

July 7th, 2011
3:54 pm

Had the avocado BLT. Asked them to hold the avocado, which they did. Resulting BLT was the most pathetic example I’ve ever had the misfortune of eating. Shredded lettuce…who puts shredded lettuce on a BLT ? Three tiny overcooked strips of bacon. A slice of tomato I could read the menu through, it was so thin.

Laura

July 7th, 2011
4:02 pm

If you want an actual pub, just go to Johnnie MacCracken’s on Atlanta Street in downtown Marietta. Outstanding Irish whisky list, good Irish & British beer menu, and amazing food. The service can be a bit slow, but that’s because they don’t have a ton of folks working there.

You know someplace is good when there is literally one place to sit in the entire establishment at 7:00 on a Friday. It’s the most crowded place in the Square during dinner or evening drink time. Their fish and chips are to die for, and their smoked pork butt stuffed with goat cheese is amazing. The menu isn’t huge, but everything’s so good it usually takes me 20 minutes to figure out what I’m having.

Ella

July 7th, 2011
4:07 pm

Okay, they have this whole star system set up for rating restaurants, and the writer just puts “fair” in the rating area. Sheesh. Stars please!!!

BeenThereDoneThat

July 7th, 2011
4:07 pm

We paid $1 for extra pickles….three slices to be exact! They should name that place Frigin Expensive. Who charges $1 for three measly pickle slices?

Ella

July 7th, 2011
4:09 pm

Okay, never mind. Just saw the blurb under the stars that explains the “fair” rating. All is well in the world again! lol

Joe

July 7th, 2011
4:10 pm

A better question, BeenThereDoneThat, is perhaps who PAYS $1 for three measly pickles? I would have told them where they could put them for a dollar and walked away.

FoodFan

July 7th, 2011
4:17 pm

Jon, the “build it yourself” menu sounds like something from a Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares. Ugh. In more important news, we want to see pics from the Big Green Egg BBQ grilling you did over the weekend.

Arby

July 7th, 2011
5:03 pm

I’ve eaten there three times and had three different menu items. All were “just ok” with nothing really sticking in my mind. The biggest disappointment was on the last visit. I ordered a martini which is $10 bucks. The glass was puny and all I tasted was water. I complained and both the waiter and bartender got huffy. They said I got the standard drink and then added a few extra drips. It still tasted like water more than anything else. I had others at the table taste it — all said the principle ingredient was water. I haven’t returned since.

Matt Chernoff

July 7th, 2011
5:28 pm

Guys, the Ferkin is an AMAZING restaurant! Best food in Atlanta! You can trust me, when has this obnoxious douche ever steered you wrong?

Bones Pimp

July 7th, 2011
6:10 pm

Jon, as somebody who has in the past claimed to be a beer person, how can you support a place with the name Firkin in it, and doesn’t even have a Firkin for beers. That’s a poseur establishment if I’ve ever heard of one.

Lorenzo

July 7th, 2011
7:01 pm

BonesPimp, there must be a thousand pubs with the name “firkin” in it–we’ve made a game of seeing how many we could spot–but I doubt that many of them actually serve real ale from firkins. The name “Firkin and Gryphon” does sound like it was produced by an automated British Pub Name Generator App, though.

Oh, please!

July 8th, 2011
10:12 am

I called my good friends the Dalai Lama and the Dutchess of Cambridge. They had never heard of Firkin and Crown’s “world famous wings”. Firkin Liars is more like it.

Oh, please!

July 8th, 2011
10:16 am

Sorry guys. Firkin & Crown, Firkin & Gryphon, Firkin who cares. They’ll suffer the same fate as Smokey Bones. There are too many humdrum (though certainly not all) restaurants in Dunwoody to fill the massive gullets and bland palettes of the Dunwoody “elite”. Gorge appetit!

g

July 8th, 2011
10:58 am

Jon, I appreciate the idea of giving a chain a chance. However, I would prefer to see a review of a real restaurant rather than something like this. I don’t think that a Firkin spot (or Applebee’s, or Chili’s, or California Pizza Kitchen, etc.) deserves to be on blogs.ajc.com. Just my two cents.

Thanks for the reviews, though. Please keep up the good work.

Carla Roqs

July 8th, 2011
11:55 am

i think that firkin’s price point and the two dishes that jon stated were decent made it worth my reading this article. i may visit there when i next visit home. conversely, after reading this, i know to not go there if i want various selections of great food. i like how the food columnists try to keep all of the bases covered. i love how they did not give them stars, but a fair. funny!

The C

July 8th, 2011
4:34 pm

Good thing the restaurant got railroaded from the beginning. This is one of the only restaurants in town using all natural grass fed beef and free range chicken not to mention all local produce. The food critic had it out for them in the beginning. Maybe if he knew everything was made from scratch in house he would have been so narrow minded.

Bob J

July 8th, 2011
4:51 pm

The C, They most certainly do not use all local produce. I have dinner for 4 at any restaurant in Atlanta to anybody that can prove this. Look at the menu, NOT POSSIBLE!!

The C

July 8th, 2011
6:29 pm

I can prove it come into the restaurant anytime and i will prove it to you. I will take my dinner at your leisure

The C

July 8th, 2011
6:32 pm

Everything is from the grand old USA !!!! Gotta love it

The C

July 8th, 2011
6:43 pm

For a franchise to source as much local ingredients as possible should be commended and not bashed for thier efforts to be as sustainable as possible. It might night be 100% local but as much as humanly possible is including the grass fed beef and free range ga chicken and pork

Amanda G

July 10th, 2011
9:36 am

Too Bad you had a closed mind before you walked in the door. I give your review “fair”. This is a great place to take a family and eat. Nothing like the Firkin and Crown, way better. All of the food in all natural and made fresh in house. Maybe you should try it again but with an open mind.

V3

July 11th, 2011
6:12 pm

I work in the industry in Atlanta with one of the top Restaurant Groups.. “The C” Grown in the USA does not mean it is Local,, Must work for the company and you guys obviously don’t know what you are talking about… PLEASE “APPLEBEES”‘

The C

July 11th, 2011
10:25 pm

As you can see in my previous post its not 100% local but we do our best. Everything is made in house and not out of a bag like applebees. Just because you work in some hot shot restaruant group doesnt mean anything. I guarantee we use the exact same product as any restaraunt group in atlanta if not better. Dont be snobby unless you know your facts. There are only a handful of restaurants that are 100% local

Gabriel

July 12th, 2011
12:42 pm

We had the misfortune of eating at this restaurant a couple of weeks ago. The food was barely fair and the service was horrible. Never, ever again. Not worth it.

Honestly, I’m not a food snob at all (am perfectly happy at Chili’s), skip Firkin & Gryphon and head over to Meeghan’s or almost anywhere else if you have a hankering for pubbish food.

Casey

July 12th, 2011
6:34 pm

The location in Dunwoody has some things to learn, like get rid of the greasy food! my recent visit was not good and dont plan on going back!!!