The Dogs on Hanover Street in Edinburgh was recommended many times over on twitter when I asked where I should go when visiting for the first time. With so many notifications coming through recommending them it would be rude not to book a visit.
We booked a table early (6pm) Sunday evening knowing that we had an evening full of shows to see at The Fringe Festival. There was no problem booking a table even during this busy period. I was surprised as I left it quite late too, two weeks prior to our visit.
I'm not sure where the concept came from, whether the owner simply just loves dogs... or whether he actually wanted it to be called 'The Dogs Bollocks' but for obvious reasons couldn't and decided to imply it instead and then play upon the theme... this is how I would like to imagine it happened.
The Dogs appears to be based on the Gastro pub scene, informal dining, using British ingredients to create good wholesome British food.
The decor is dog themed (but not over the top), with stone dogs greeting you at the door (not literally - they are stone) and a huge dog (is it a Labrador?) looking over you as you eat, plus plenty more.
We were greeted by a slim man in cowboy boots and shown to a table next to the window. Water and menus were brought for us and we set about deciding what we would like.
There are two rooms and we were seated in the main room with the bar. A cleanly finished room with mismatch furniture and interesting details to keep you amused.. note the devil like bust hanging from the wall.
It was fairly quiet but then it was early... but then it was also festival season in Edinburgh.. but then it is away from the main venues too.
The main man (the owner possibly) had a dry sense of humour, he asked if sir had told the lady how nice she looked tonight (the lady being me - I know I was shocked too), when D replied yes he replied back with 'good, I don't have to then'.
To drink D ordered a bottle of Barney's beer, he chose the Good Ordinary Pale Ale, Barney's is brewed in Edinburgh although this one uses English and American hops to get its citrus and pine notes. (Totally stole that from the website).
I ordered a carafe of red wine. Because I'm greedy. Because I was on holiday. Because when you're on holiday you're supposed to get drunk.
I had to dish some out to D at the end of the meal.
It was the cheapest carafe on the menu - the Varales Tintto from Spain.
D and I, clearly being of similar palate, both favoured the duck dish and so decided to go for this as a starter as neither one of us wished to lament and choose something different.
A word of caution here. It's served almost raw. I'm pretty sure they just waived it at the pan or just let the skin of the duck touch the pan feather lightly. It was so blue it was blue (well purple) and cold in parts. This made it quite hard to dissect with a normal knife and fork. The skin for me was the best bit. The fattiest bit (what do you mean scales when you say I've put on half a stone on my holidays). The beetroot and pine nuts was something I've never had paired with duck but it did go very well.
For mains again both me and D spotted something we wanted that was the same. Sigh. However this time we could order it as a dish for two. Hurrah!
We chose the pork and butter bean stew with crispy pork belly slice served with an oatmeal and bacon stuffing. It was basically pork rolled in pork stuffed with pork and some oats sat gladly on a bed of beans and more pork.
Oh yeah... because we were on holiday and being fatties we also ordered some beef dripping chips which you can see in the background.
The pork was pretty good, pretty fatty, no seriously there was massive chunks of fat which we removed and didn't eat. I'd like to keep a few extra hours of my life thank you. The crispy pork belly was blissful. The massive butter beans in tomato sauce (made good dipping for chips) did go well with the pork but such a filling dish we could have done with less stodge and substituted this for some greens (you can order greens as a side). The stuffing was kind of sloppy, I guess it's hard to hold oats and bacon together. I would love to try and make something similar myself and if I do I think I will be aiming to make a stuffing that holds itself together a little better.
Too stuffed for dessert we simply finished off my wine and then headed for the nearest bar to try and let it all settle a little bit before we had to go watch the first show of the night.
The bill came to around £50 which is a pretty standard cost for an establishment of this sort. It reminded me of the Reliance in Leeds but with extra emphasis on the heavy food. I guess Edinburgh is in a cold country (I was freezing in August) so some heart, body and belly warming food is in demand here.
One to visit if you're near and need your belly filling.
110 Hanover Street