Let’s call it the “Journal effect” – the overnight increase in business whenever a new restaurant is profiled or reviewed in the paper. Establishments and customers know this to be anecdotally true. It was certainly apparent the day Mack and I visited The Dog on Friday.
It was a coincidence that I had picked The Dog: we had yet to try it, and a pre-Rush dinner was a good excuse given it was conveniently on the bus route between our home and Rexall Place. But fresh from a review that Wednesday, there was no doubt the restaurant was scrambling to keep up – the servers shared that there was a line-up out the door for lunch that afternoon, and suspiciously, the diners around us also happened to be the average age of a Journal reader.
The Dog replaced the upscale casual restaurant concept Absolutely Edibles. In some ways, given the success of the neighbouring Sloppy Hoggs, it made sense for the owners to replicate the comfort food mantra in their sister space. The décor has changed quite dramatically, with a diner-esque bar asserting itself in the centre of the room, and a pantry of sorts in the back, with house-made accoutrements for sale. Unfortunately, the stone mosaic tables remained from the restaurant’s previous incarnation; hopefully they will be replaced at some point in the future with less fussy furniture.
The menu was much more extensive than we anticipated. They have about a dozen signature dogs, created with a base of beef or beef and pork dogs made by Real Deal Meats. They also had house-made sausages of more exotic varieties – namely, kangaroo, alligator, wild boar and seafood. Rounding out the menu were a number of appetizers, milkshakes and desserts.
Mack and I stuck to the more tried and true on this visit – he ordered the Coney Island ($8), a beef dog topped with beef chili, cheddar, yellow mustard and diced onion, while my Trailer Trash ($8) beef and pork dog was topped with mac & cheese and bacon. We also ordered fries ($4) and onion rings ($5).
Coney Island and fries
We both agreed that the house-made buns were great – soft and yielding as they should have been. Similarly, the dogs themselves were snappy and full of flavour – these weren’t your average ballpark wieners! The toppings, however, were a bit disappointing – both the chili and mac and cheese wouldn’t be able to stand alone; to have enhanced the overall dog, they needed to have a punch all on their own.
Trailer Trash and onion rings
The portion sizes of the fries and onion rings were more than generous (how some managed to consume a dog, side and a milkshake was beyond me), and the entrée prices were reasonable. Service was friendly but brisk, understandably so, given the circumstances.
I’d definitely return to The Dog to try one of their more peculiar creations, but perhaps not for a few weeks, when the fervor has died down.
9567 118 Avenue
Tuesday-Sunday 11am-9pm, closed Mondays