The Dog & Bear has been open now for a just matter of months (at 1100 Queen Street West) and its owners and operators are well-known in the restaurant game: Richard Lambert and Jesse Girard (Parts and Labour, The Hoxton), along with co-owners Stefan Brogren (of Degrassi fame), Michael Homewood, Kenny Hotz, Richie Smith, Jamie Webster and Benn Young.
I visited last week to check out the new menu, designed by executive front of house chef Andy Eade (Splendido, Luma, Scaramouche), and I spoke to him regarding the Dog & Bear. Upon my arrival, a small swing sign (the Social signage is still hanging outside) identifies the pub. The restaurant itself is rustic and cozy with exposed brick walls, wooden ceiling beams and several large flat-screen TVs. It has a perfect pub charm, nothing like your typical Queen West restaurant.
Many have suggested an English pub might seem 'odd' for Queen West, but in speaking with Eade he told me, "We're trying to make good food that's not complicated or pretentious. Something that can be perfect for drinking but also give you comfort." In fact, one thing that really struck me was one of the very first dishes he brought out, the Ploughman’s Platter ($15). This shareable dish is filled with aged cheese, cured meat, pickled cucumbers, hard boiled egg, crisps with curry, toast and pate. One of the strengths of the dish is flavour; Eade explained that they've started their own in-house pickling program and have begun making everything they can (for example: breads, french fries, batters, mustards, etc.) so that the full flavors can be met and obtained. This really came out in the Ploughman's Platter. All the pickled dishes were fabulously done, the bread was beautifully baked and the mustard wasn't too overpowering. As I began to make mini-sandwiches with each item of the platter, I thought of my grandma's house, in the best possible way.
I spoke to Eade about how his background as a chef influenced the menu. He said he was always inspired by his great aunt, who made excellent soups as he was growing up. The British are known for the great comfort food in their pubs, which lead into the next dish he brought me: a soup that was a step up from pub-food. The Chilled Tomato & Haddock soup with Horseradish Cream ($6) was presented beautifully. It was missing the extra kick I was expecting from the horseradish cream, but there was the wonderful addition of some panko crumbs to give it an extra crunch. Still, overall, the soup was missing something I couldn't quite place my finger on.
Finally, you know you can't visit an English-pub without getting Fish & Chips. But what else do people love to eat while they are visiting there? Eade mentioned that some of the most popular items on the Dog & Bear menu are: Deep Fried Pickles ($4), Fried Chicken & Peameal Sandwich ($15) and the Cottage Pie ($12). However, this time around I tried the Fish & Chips. The haddock was perfectly cooked; as I put my fork right into the fish it was flakey and tender. The chips were incredible, what can I say. Plus, the serving size is huge. You will definitely not go home hungry. Plus, if you want, they've got the sweet tooth covered (Summer Trifle at $6).
Photos by Yuli Scheidt
Amanda (Ama) Scriver is a foodie and music fiend. She is a food writer for Pink Mafia with her 'Eats' column and works as an event planner full-time. She enjoys random adventures that you can follow each and everyday through Twitter (@amapod) or follow through Instagram (username: amapod).