Buddy, my fluffy white bichon frise, finds it hard to sit easy this evening. We – me, my girlfriend and Buddy – are sitting at one of the many tables in the long outdoor section of the Dog House Blue’s Tearoom. It’s his first time being in a restaurant and he doesn’t know how he feels about it.
He noses the ground and the legs of the table, getting the scent of other dogs, and wants to go sniffing around the other tables. He doesn’t have the required etiquette for such an environment. To be fair, it’s not his fault.
The Dublin dining scene hasn’t been a particularly dog-friendly one. Slowly but surely, thanks to places like the Dog House, that seems to be changing.
Several haunts around the city are now opening the doors to people with pooches. The Cake Cafe on Pleasants Street is one such spot. Its spacious leafy courtyard is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat while your pal chills by your feet.
“We get a lot of people bringing there dogs in,” says owner Michelle Darmidy. “Especially in the morning, they come in for a cup of tea and a read of the paper. And we always have dog bowls out.”
Dogs a very welcome at sports bar and cafe Button & Coin on Ellis Street. “We’re very dog friendly,” says part-owner Eoghan O’Brien.
Customers can drop in after a stroll with their dogs for a couple of pints. Their doggies will be in good company, since a few of the barman bring their own in. Eoghan’s two shih-tzus are regular features. The dogs are usually well-behaved in Button & Coin; those who get a bit stroppy will be told to take it outside.
Other pubs were reluctant to advertise their dog-friendly policies for fear of the word getting out. They don’t want every hound in town stomping in and taking over the place.
It’s a balmy Monday evening in Howth. Nestled right next to the Dart station, the Dog House Blue’s Tearoom is quiet and the atmosphere is chilled. There are three or four other parties in the restaurant with us.
A couple canoodle on a plush red couch in front of a wood burning fire. There are several couches out here, as well as a couple of beds for customers to relax on after their meals.
The waitress, very friendly, comes along with a water bowl for Buddy and takes our order. The menu looks delicious and offers a wide range, from salads to fish to pizzas.
I go for the Sea Dog, a fish pizza of sardines and prawns topped with rocket (€14.95). My girlfriend orders the Chicken Caesar Salad (€7.50) and we split a generous side of Cajun Wedges (€3.75).
Buddy seems to have settled. He’s a little moody because there’s no doggie menu, but otherwise content.
The setting is a quirky. As well as the couches and beds, the many tables range from two to eight seats and are a mix of patio, glass-top and wrought-iron, and even a couple of high-gloss-finish mahogany affairs.
The fire crackles and sparks, Parisian music floats out from the speakers and sunlight filters down through the gaps in the canopy illuminating the purple, red and yellow flowers of the overflowing hanging baskets that stretch all the way down to the far end of the narrow courtyard.
This resembles one of the quaint and colourful side streets of Mountmarte. There’s even an orange-brown abstract canvas hanging from the canopy near the entrance.
The base of the Sea Dog pizza is thin and crispy the way I like it and while it’s not cheap, it is delicious, well worth a try. The Caesar Salad, a favourite of my girlfriend, gets the thumbs up: the chicken is tender and the lettuce fresh and crunchy.
The Cajun Wedges, though, steal the show. It’s easy to be let down by wedges. They often come undercooked, limp and tasteless. Not the case at the Dog House. Crispy, mildly spicy, and very moreish.
Buddy’s not a fan of Caesar dressing, but enjoys the crust of the pizza and the few wedges we give him.
As we get up to leave, the canoodling couple have retired from the couch to one of the beds. I think the fire and the Parisian tunes have gone to they’re heads. Or maybe it was the Horny Bitch, the aphrodisiac pizza of basil, garlic and chili that comes with a side of oysters and Tabasco (€14.95).