Black Dog is one of those places I had heard of from time to time from different people. Despite hearing how awesome it was, I had never checked it out. Not long ago a friend wanted to grab a late dinner and possibly a drkink and wanted to meet closer to work. Voilá, time to check out the Black Dog.Located in a strip mall-type area just off Covington Road, the Black Dog’s exterior is unassuming. There is a nice large patio for outdoor seating in the summer, and, as I approached the building, a few customers sitting outside greeted me warmly. I immediately got the impression this was one of those places frequented by regulars.
The inside is split in two sections – a family room and a bar – so it’s accommodating to families. The décor is about what one would expect. Dark greens figure predominately as do pictures of, well, Black Dogs.
We opted to sit on the bar side (of course), and the first thing I noticed was the line of taps. Now we are talking! I tentatively asked for a beer menu and was pleasantly surprised by about 18 craft choices. Not only that, but they had a variety of brewers on tap from around the area – 3 Floyds, Big Woods Brewing, Founders, Bells, a nice mix of well-known brewers and relatively new ones.
The second thing I took note of was how welcoming and friendly the staff was. One of my biggest pet peeves when I walk into a new place is being ignored by the wait staff. This sounds like Bar 101 and should be. I worked in a bar for a while, and you can easily spot when someone is new to an establishment. They are looking for cues from the staff on where to sit and want to be welcomed. It shocks me how infrequently this actually happens.
I can unequivocally say that Black Dog has one of the friendliest wait staffs I’ve encountered in a long time. I went three separate times, and each time the service was exceptional.
Once my companion and I got settled in at the bar, it was time to make some choices. There were a handful of beers I’d never tried, and I started off with a Busted Knuckle by Big Woods. On the menu it was listed as an English Porter, on the web site as a Hybrid Porter. They promote it as a beer unlike any other, and I certainly was having a hard time classifying it. It was simply good – a nice session beer with a malty back, a bit of caramel and really well balanced. I tend to choose Browns over Porters, and this felt more like a Brown to me. As confusing as it was to classify, I really enjoyed it.
For my second run at the beer, I chose the Six Foot Blond. I usually stay away from Blonds simply because they tend to fall flat. This one is listed as an American Dark Wheat Ale on the menu and on the website as simply a Blond. (This inconsistency in profiling the beers on the menu is truly my only complaint.)For a Blond, I was really pleased with it. There wasn’t anything about it that really struck me as wow, but I wasn’t disappointed in it as I often am in Blonds. I don’t care for Pilsners, and that is how many Blonds come off to me. It wasn’t wheaty and, fortunately, didn’t come with fruit stuck in it. It was simply clean and crisp with a nice bit of complexity to the taste without going too far in any direction. To me, that is what a Blond should be.
My companion stuck with the tried and true Robert the Bruce by Three Floyds Brewing. This is a Scottish Ale and, like everything Three Floyds brews, it is spectacular. If you like a malty complex beer, this is for you. A bit of hops keep it from being too sweet, it’s full, beautiful and delicious.
I have pretty low expectations for bar food, and I have to say that in this area Black Dog once again rises above the average. I’m not really into food and I tried only one thing, but those Philly Cheesesteak Nachos were amazing – way too much food for one person, but very well done. My friend had the fish and chips and said they were really good. Based on what others have said, I’d have to go with food being a safe bet – not exactly epicurean, but for bar food well above average.
As of my last visit, they were getting ready to add some taps, so I’m really curious to get back in and see what’s new. If you are looking for a warm, friendly place for good beers and good food, I would highly recommend Black Dog Pub.