The Barking Dog is a place my parents really like for lunch. They love the clam chowder and have been here several times. The restaurant itself is a little storefront on 49th Street near Pennsylvania. For lunch, they generally specialize in New England seafood type things, like the clam chowder, lobster and shrimp rolls, and fried clams. They also serve dinner a few nights a week (Thursday-Saturday until 9:00 and Tuesday and Wednesday until 7:00). For a change of pace, I went with the folks to give dinner a try.
They offer some of the stand-by lunch items (clams and a burger for instance) as well as a rotating menu of various bistro items. They are serving each entrée from the dinner menu with an amuse of soup and a salad.
The amuse was the soup of the day, which was French mushroom bisque which was a rich creamy puree of mushroom with cream and sherry. Very rich, but tasty, and the small portion was just right.
The salad was very good, a small plate of mixed greens with some slivers of green apple, sliced grapes, pecans, and some nice chunks of good blue cheese—I love fruit combined with blue cheese. And a tangy vinaigrette to top it off was really good.
For my main course, I chose the scallops wrapped in phyllo and served over a mushroom cream sauce and a side of asparagus. The scallops were a nice size and were cooked well (i.e. not to death) and I really enjoyed the variety of texture between the velvety smooth scallop and the crunchy phyllo—reminded me of a favorite scallop dish I used to get in SF which was scallops wrapped in thin slices of potato and fried. Anyway, the scallops were described as topped with truffle oil. I did not taste that at all (and I love truffle oil). However, I think really, what they could have used, was a hit of brightness from a squeeze of lemon (which I asked for and which helped quite a bit) or maybe to be served with a different sauce that wasn’t so rich—all the richness of flavor made the dish a bit one dimensional. But with a few tweaks, it could be really good. The asparagus was described on the menu as “sautéed” but I think it was just steamed, not sautéed.
My Dad ordered the steak frites though, and this was a big disappointment—the meat came out and was very overcooked (and it was pretty apparent from the time it was set down). We didn’t really have the time to have a new steak cooked, so Dad ate some and took the rest home for the dog (who is not so discriminating). Dad was glad he had ordered a cup of the clam chowder to start (even with the soup amuse) because it was his favorite part of the meal. The frites (which we had also ordered a side order of) were not so hot either, particularly when there are so many places around here doing them so well these days. They were not crispy at all and didn’t have a lot of flavor. The kalamata aioli served with them was pretty good though.
The service is pretty good—our server did take some off our bill for the overcooked steak, but I think one server for the whole place (even though it is small) may not be enough when the place is crowded (which is was when we left.)
Oh, and a note about wine—they do not have a liquor license but do welcome BYOB. Just be sure and bring your own glasses and corkscrew, as they are not allowed to help with any of that.
All in all, I think this place is really trying, and at least they are experimenting with some things other people aren’t doing—and I like the emphasis on seafood. I think maybe I will try lunch next time and see how it goes.
The Barking Dog Café
115 East 49th Street