The Dog & Tiger: What's the vibe
I’ve probably walked past The Dog & Tiger on College about 100 times, but to my chagrin, I had always dismissed it as just another pub. Recently, I finally took a chance on the neighbourhood spot, and boy, am I sorry I didn’t try it sooner.
When I arrive, a cheeky chalkboard sign outside reads, "Not the Dog & Bear," which makes me think that other people have probably made the same mistake. In a very real you-can't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover experience, the pub-style exterior belies the exceptional fare and cozy atmosphere that you'll find inside.
When I first enter The Dog & Tiger, the front of the space feels like an upscale pub, with high top tables and plenty of seats around the central bar (where I could definitely see myself posting up for a casual cocktail after work). A large tiger mural (with a dog companion, naturally) gives guests a sultry stare from across the bar. In the back, the cozy dining room is outfitted with marble tables, banquette seating and a floral, tiger-laden wallpaper that oozes charm. We score the table by the fireplace, which is an added bonus on a frosty winter day.
Annexed to the restaurant, a covered, heated year-round patio provides extra seating in the winter and beautiful al fresco dining in the summer. Plus it's perfect for those in between months when you really want to sit outside but it's just a little too frigid.
The laidback atmosphere and cute decor make The Dog & Tiger a romantic restaurant that's relaxed and easy — exactly what you want in a first date locale, if you ask me. Tables are close together so even an awkward silence won't be too silent. Plus delicious craft cocktails and farm-to-table fare make everything go down easier.
The Dog & Tiger: What's on the menu
Executive chef Thomas Salvo (formerly of Chase Hospitality Group) joined the team last fall, and has created a reimagined menu of farm-to-table dishes. There are plenty of stand-out items on the menu, whether you're looking for a full meal or some light bites that won't make you too full for... post-date activities.
We start with the east coast oysters, served with a rhubarb mignonette. One of my favourite dishes was the incredibly refreshing beet salad, made with roasted Ontario beets, grilled radicchio and house-made goat cheese, topped with a cherry plum vinaigrette. It's sweet and savoury with a little kick from the dressing. The mushroom caesar is an interesting take on the dish, loaded with rich and savoury mushrooms and hardly enough lettuce to be considered a salad.
It hadn't caught my eye, but we were recommended the house-cured lamb bacon, and it was a total knock-out. The tender and fatty (in the best way) pieces of grilled Beverly Creek lamb come on a creamy bed of wild leek pesto, shaved Mountainoak gouda, pickled ramps and ricotta, all on a slice of Brodflour sourdough.
The Dog & Tiger: What's on the drink menu
The craft cocktails here are as unique and inventive as the dishes. Sip on delicious serves like A Dog Named Ginger, a zesty and refreshing mixture of rum, lemon, lime and ginger; and the boozy Title of Your Sex Tape with mezcal, Aperol, chartreuse and lime. Their new york sour is a delightful take on the classic cocktail, that's made all the more fun with a frozen malbec ice ball that slowly melts, infusing wine into the drink. My favourite was the fancy Maggie Mae, a beautifully-presented and just-sweet-enough serve with vodka, gin, peach, blood orange, lemon and prosecco.
There are plenty of wine options on the list, including skin contact wines — if you want to impress your date. And more than a few are available by the glass, half-litre or bottle so you can easily choose the right amount without looking like a cheapskate or like you're trying to overdo it. Both imports and local craft beer are on the menu, too. There's something for everyone here — perfect for when you're still getting to know your date's preferences.
Dinner and drinks for two: around $110 before tax and tip
The Dog & Tiger Kitchen and Bar, 537 College St., thedogandtiger.com