Looking for something low-key but a little different, my husband and I recently headed to Hawk and Griffin, a British-style pub located on the west end of Maple Avenue in Vienna. The small outdoor patio in front was deserted on this chilly and rainy night but would make a pleasant spot for afternoon people-watching in better weather. Inside was warm and welcoming if surprisingly quiet on a Saturday night, although it was a little early.
While we waited several minutes to be seated, we took in our surroundings. A wall separates the long narrow bar from the dining room. The barstools were all occupied, but a couple of tables were available. Two small side rooms, or “snugs,” sit across from each other near the entrance, and a family with young children has taken advantage of the more private space. The dining room is more open and airier than I expected but with lots of warm wood to give it a cozy feel. The design and décor, including high-backed wooden booths and plain wooden tables and chairs, are meant to evoke the Edwardian era of the early 1900s, according to the pub’s website.
On the way to our table, we passed a small stage where live bands perform on Thursday nights. Hawk and Griffin also holds open mic nights on Tuesdays, pub trivia on Wednesdays, and, of course, Premier League football viewing. As we settled in, a manager chatting with a nearby table was explaining that Saturdays are usually somewhat quiet, but Thursdays are much busier. Most of the tables in the dining room are occupied by groups of adults or families with children. Although there are several televisions, they are not overwhelming, and the sound is turned down.
The menu is small and made up of classic English pub fare, including bangers and mash, cottage pie, fish and chips, and curries. A kids’ menu, appetizers, and a rotating dessert menu are available, as are late-night bar snacks, and a weekend brunch. The beer menu includes selections from Europe as well as local breweries. There is also a small wine list and a gin list
After waiting to be seated, I began to have doubts about the service when we waited another seven or eight minutes before our waiter stopped to greet us, but my outlook improved when he apologized for the delay and the rest of our evening progressed smoothly. Our food and drinks arrived promptly without making us feel rushed and the server was attentive without hovering. When we ordered, I mentioned we would need to place a to-go order before we left and not to let me forget. I really didn’t expect him to remind me, but not only did he remember, he checked back at a perfect time during our meal to place the order to have it ready when we were finished.
We ordered an Old Speckled Hen and one of the pub’s specialty cocktails, the King George, a delicious combination of gin, St. Germaine, and lemonade. Our entrees were hearty and flavorful. The chicken masala with white rice had just the right amount of peppery heat, and the beef pasty paired well with a side of cucumber salad.
Our to-go order arrived in environmentally friendly cardboard boxes. The fish and chips included cod in a light, crispy batter that didn’t overwhelm the taste of the fish, and my daughter said she wished there had been more than one piece. The chocolate bombe blended a bitter chocolate coating with a sweet chocolate mousse inside and was beautifully presented with a decorative swirl of hardened chocolate balanced on top.
Co-owners Michael Burgess and Tom Kyllo have deep ties to the community. Burgess owns Vienna’s The Pure Pasty Company, and Kyllo has been a local architect for more than two decades. They shared a dream of “creating a local pub where friends could enjoy connecting over a pint.” I’m sure many nearby residents will make Hawk and Griffin their neighborhood gathering spot, and visitors will be charmed by this little bit of England in Vienna.
Hawk & Griffin
435 Maple Avenue West
Entrees $12 – $17
Analiese Kreutzer is a freelance writer. She can be reached at AnalieseKreutzer@gmail.com.