Not lost, wandering

Beavercreek’s Wandering Griffin points in the right direction

Photo: Wild mushroom pizza from Wandering Griffin

By Paula Johnson

“Not all who wander are lost” is a bumper sticker I’ve seen on cars. Indeed the act of wandering (and the act of wondering) can lead to the opposite of being lost, and finding something wonderful. The themes of traveling, voyaging, and exploration are central to the interior space design at Beavercreek’s Wandering Griffin. My friend Mark Shannon, whose hand is all over the delightful touches which make The Wandering Griffin a cool place to nosh and quaff, showed me around and discussed how the place came to be. Readers may be familiar with the space, which formerly housed Quaker Steak & Lube. This current incarnation bears no resemblance to the kitschy car themed place it once was.

The Wanderer

But first, I wanted to know about the name. A griffin of course is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and an eagle’s talons as its front feet. And Griffin happens to be the last name of co-owner Tony Griffin. Okay, I get Griffin. The other owner is Brian Young. I wasn’t quite getting it. “My wife is a bit of an introvert, and I’m the exact opposite. She always accuses me of abandoning her whenever we go somewhere and leaving her. She’s always yelling at me about wandering off,” was Young’s explanation. (There’s still some debate about who actually came up with the name, but it stuck.)

Hence the theme of exploration was born. In several places Mark pointed out his use of the compass rose in the space’s design. Sometimes called Rose of the Winds, it’s a figure on a compass, map, nautical chart, or monument used to display the orientation of the cardinal directions North, East, South, and West and their intermediate points. There’s one made of inlaid wood behind the bar as well as one in the floor at the hostess stand. He likes using reclaimed wood and architectural elements in his spaces, and here you’ll see an old stairway in the bar displaying liquor bottles, and also a gorgeously carved reclaimed porch pediment gracing the space. Though it’s a brewpub, there’s also a coffee bar called Wanderlust inside The Wandering Griffin, along with a beautifully appointed Art Deco style private room with a speakeasy feel used for events or crowd overflow.

That’s Entertainment

That’s a lot of explanation for a place I only walked through. We actually dined outside at the spacious patio alongside the building. Complete with its own large outdoor bar with TV’s, that night the patio was playing host to Trivia Night. The theme was “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and though PIP (Palate In Progress) spent many nights of his youth dressed and performing, these questions were tough and stumped us both as we listened in. (Shout out to the excellently dressed cosplayers who sat near us.) Trivia wasn’t the evening’s only entertainment however. Full points are awarded to our server Austin on that score. He never actually said the word “Du-u-u-u-de,” but early Keanu Reeves certainly comes to mind. His enthusiasm and Spicoli-like delivery (AND solid knowledge of the menu and wise ordering advice) made for a really entertaining and pleasurable dining experience. For instance, I asked for a cocktail recommendation. “You should totally get Stoned,” he replied, explaining the name of the featured rum drink in honor of Bob Stone, Beavercreek’s mayor.

What the Weck?

Austin also steered us toward some of the more popular menu items. They included a favorite of PIP’s, Fish & Chips ($13), Brian Young’s Buffalo classic sandwich Beef on Weck ($10), and one of the featured pizzas, The Wild Mushroom ($13). The Beef on Weck is a solid choice, a weck being a tasty bun topped with caraway seeds and coarse salt. The shaved beef is served with fresh horseradish, which I love, but I almost wish it were in a less clumpy sauce to better cling to the beef. (I might just order some mayonnaise to concoct my own next time.) I ordered Macaroni and Cheese as my side, a good hearty pairing with the sandwich. We both liked the beer battered Fish & Chips immensely, served with a good heap of fries and fresh crispy coleslaw completing the platter. Wandering Griffin does a slight departure from the traditional tartar, serving instead sauce gribiche, a mayonnaise-based sauce with egg, capers, parsley, and chopped pickle, a nice touch.

There are several pizzas on the menu, and though the dough isn’t made in house, the pizzas are hand tossed with a good crust, and quite popular according to Austin. I was interested in the Wild Mushroom, which featured a blend of mushrooms, bechamel sauce, smoked Gouda, and fresh herbs. “Are you a fan of hot peppers?” he asked. His advice was to try banana peppers on the pizza. I opted for them added to half, and indeed the peppers were right on the money as a foil for the mild, creamy, cheesy sauce and earthy sweetness of the mushrooms. But I liked this pizza either way and would recommend trying half as is, if you decide on any additional enhancements.

We closed with a rich, ooey gooey, warm brownie topped with ice cream and caramel served in a mini cast iron skillet for dessert, feeling full of fun and food, and glad our wandering led us to The Wandering Griffin. Doubtless we will wander this way again.

The Wandering Griffin is located at 3725 Presidential Drive in Beavercreek. For more information please call 937.956.5216 or visit

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at

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