What’s that you say? Two beer posts in a row? Hey, sometimes things just roll that way. It’s the busy season for wine tastings right now, so the occasional beer makes for a welcome change of pace. And where there’s a beer, there’s often a burger (not to mention a theme I’ve neglected for too long).
Good Dog’s signature burger – the eponymous Good Dog Burger – has met with awfully high praise in the past. Craig LaBan, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, called it the best cheeseburger in town a couple of years back. Bill at Philly Food Guys more or less seconded that opinion not long after. In spite of all that, it was only recently that I finally made a foray to Good Dog to check it out for myself.
The burger. A half-pound of house ground sirloin is seated on a firm, dense style of brioche bun. It’s the stuffing of Roquefort, as it bursts forth in all its molten glory with each bite, which seems to get all the attention. I’ve never been the biggest fan of blue cheese on a burger but in this one it works. For me though, it’s really the burger’s only topping, a tangle of intensely caramelized onions, that raises the Good Dog Burger to a plane of serious deliciousness. The sweet earthiness of those onions works wonders with both the beef – cooked perfectly medium-rare as ordered – and the salty, pungent richness of the Roquefort.
Like Philly Food Guy Bill, I’m not given to awarding “bests” anymore than I’m inclined to assign points to wine or stars to restaurants. Suffice it to say that the Good Dog Burger is seriously worthy of attention, even if the accompanying mushy heap of regular and sweet potato fries weren’t up to its standard.
As for beer, the list at Good Dog doesn’t amount to a beer geek destination but it’s a respectable selection for what is essentially a neighborhood bar. The bottle and can list puts one foot in the craft beer end of the spectrum and the other in typical taproom territory. There’s greater diversity to be found in the rotating selection of regional drafts.
I whet my whistle with a pint of an old Pennsylvanian standby, Scarlet Lady ESB from Stoudts Brewing Company. The Scarlet Lady seems to have softened her touch over the years; the gently bitter bite I look for in an ESB has rounded and mellowed with age. Still, it’s a decent and clean finishing session beer. To accompany the burger, I asked the man behind the bar for a recommendation and ended up with Rasta Rye Pale Ale, a specialty brew from Patchogue, New York’s Blue Point Brewing Company. The spicy character lent by the rye grain in its blend accented its assertive bite. Rasta Rye isn't something I’d sit down to more than a glass of but it made for a decent match with my meal.
A taste of the rest of Good Dog’s menu, which straddles the line between pub grub and gastropub, will have to wait for next time. Their duck potpie sounds mighty tempting but I might have a hard time not heeding the call of the burger.
Good Dog Bar
224 South 15th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102