My parents no longer ask me if i'd like to buy a house or a property one day, and that's not just down to the crass ladder most home-owners are struggling to climb, it's because i'd more like to own a pub instead.....a pub none too dissimilar to The Black Dog. Perched on a corner and unassuming, here's a boozer that shows how it's done.
Strolling under lights strewn across trees in the heart of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens was a pretty nice start to things, and The Black Dog was going to keep up the charm. A humble pub space littered with classic wooden furniture and awnings, The Black Dog may seem subtle and on the off beaten track, but it's clearly the fumes of pub grub and fairy lights that keep this pub noticeable. While dining tables, copper lighting and chandeliers keep the main space busy, pottering out back found an intimate and pleasant beer garden, while out front promised the classic draw of the sturdy and sure pub bench.
The Food and Drink
Hailed for their seasonal dishes, fresh produce and thoughtful plates, The Black Dog clearly has no qualms in producing a menu of British classics that settle in well amongst a selection of international dishes that one might not always find on a pub menu. While we opted for a bottle of Argentinian Malbec to spread across the meal, it's also the Cask-Marque pints that balance and amplify the resourcefulness of The Black Dog.
Starting with the Salt & Pepper Squid with Wasabi Mayo £7 alongside the Patatas Bravas £5, not only were the squid morsels plump with kick from the wasabi that sent the fresh flavour into overdrive, the portion of Patatas Bravas was hearty, and ever accompanied by a fresh and rich tomato sauce that offset the aoili just right. As all good Sunday pub fiends do, we opted for a roast, which was a hard split when the veggie burgers looked so appealing. Sticking to our guns, two vegetarian nut roasts came plump and smoking with heat. Not only are the vegetables fresh and the cabbage to die for, the nut roast itself (whilst sat in a pepper bed) was intensified by a creamy flavour that gave the whole dish an ever rich edge alongside a Yorkshire pudding big enough to have its own Post Code. Lending our stomachs to dessert for the first time in a while, we closed with their chocolate brownie with pistachio ice cream. While most good brownies come with vanilla ice cream, this alternative not only added a little tact to the dish, it gave the soft a viscid texture of the brownie a better bite.
The Black Dog's merit as a pub was clear, pretty much as we arrived; not only had they been serving a party of over 20 with roast dinners, babies and 30th birthday balloons by the buck load, they could barely shake the cosy, and chunky atmosphere that came with it no matter how busy a table it might have seemed. Clearly a place to hunker down in, The Black Dog had its fairy lights lit, a Christmas tree behind our table and heaters going strong, all set amongst charming staff and the easy-going lull that all good pubs should have.
The Black Dog more than ticks those cosy pub boxes, it practically invented them. Clearly tailored to the 30 something crowd that know what they're paying for, are happy to pay for it and want to sit down for most of the afternoon enjoying it, The Black Dog has kept the treasured pub plight and paired it with pub grub that more than tickles its way into the gastro space.