Service & Atmosphere
Located in an alley behind the CVS on Euclid Avenue, Black Dog Kitchen & Bar is a bit off the beaten path. You’ll know you’ve found it when you see the large painted black dog sprawling the side wall where the entrance is located. The interior of Black Dog is surprising: it’s huge, and definitely a good place for large groups.
When we entered Black Dog around 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night, the place was desolate, save a few patrons at the bar and one small table that seated a handful of guests. We took seats at the large bar that sprawled the length of the front of the restaurant. The bartender was friendly and the bar manager was knowledgeable, and the food, not surprisingly, was delivered quickly.
The beer menu isn’t impressive, but it’s not bad either. There’s nothing too exciting or unusual, but there are certainly enough domestics, craft brews, and imports to keep beer drinkers of all varieties fairly pleased.
It seems Black Dog’s real specialty are their signature cocktails and martinis. They serve up a variety of drinks like the Edgewater and the Lake Effect–you’ve got to appreciate the Cleveland-themed names that are found all over the menu.
Happy hour at Black Dog is a must: Monday through Friday from 3:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. the bar gives some hefty drink discounts including $4 glasses of house wines, $2 domestic bottles, $3 select craft and import drafts, and $4 signature cocktails and martinis. To boot, they also offer up $5 and $3 menu options like burgers and Black Dog frites.
Black Dog’s menu packs a large variety of standard bar fare like salads, tacos, burgers, and a variety of sandwiches. A self-proclaimed lobster roll connoisseur, I knew I had to try the rock and roll lobster ($14), fresh Maine lobster tail and claw meat, celery, and mayo on a New England style bun. Since lobster rolls tend to be hit or miss, I was hoping for the best but preparing myself for the worst. When my sandwich arrived and I took the first bite, I was immediately delighted: the lobster meat was fresh, delicious, and actually overflowing from the bun. I was a bit disturbed by my side of Black Dog frites upon learning that they were cooked in duck fat, but I quickly pushed my fears aside after one taste. These delicious fries were perfectly crisp (I was later informed that this was because of the duck fat) and topped with grated parmesan, rosemary, and seasoned with salt and pepper.
The menu, filled with Cleveland references like The Horseshoe (a burger), The Shoreway (a Lake Erie walleye sandwich), and The Terminal Tower (a salad topped with sirloin), was a nice touch, and proof that they are attempting to integrate themselves into the city. Favorites from Black Dog’s menu include the lobster & roasted artichoke dip ($13), the crispy pork belly ($10), Ricky Vaughn’s grilled buffalo chicken tacos ($9.50), and The Horseshoe burger ($11).
A perk of Black Dog that personally delights me is their use of quality and, whenever possible, local ingredients. They get a lot of items from the West Side Market, local farmers, and other businesses.
If that’s not enough incentive to get you to try Black Dog, then maybe this will help: build your own fritattas and a bloody mary bar every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. for brunch. If you’re not a fritatta fan, Black Dog offers other breakfast goodies like steak and eggs, stuffed French toast, and fruit bruschetta.
Given its awkward location and lack of free parking, I doubt that Black Dog will ever become a Cleveland destination location; but I know I’ll be back again to visit this little gem. If you’re looking for something that’s cheaper and a little more low key than some of the restaurants down East 4th Street, yet way classier than the Winking Lizard on Prospect Avenue, then Black Dog is surely your place.
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