Friday, May 2, 2008

A Burger and a Beer at Good Dog

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.

(Photo courtesy of Messy and Picky.)

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
215-985-9600
Good Dog on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

Bill said...

David,

Great to hear you made it to Good Dog! We've been there a few times and enjoyed our meal every time. We were also impressed with the service, which proved to be timely yet unrushed.

By the way, you may want to check out the video of Craig LaBan signing about his love of cheeseburgers here.

David McDuff said...

Thanks for stopping by, Bill, and for posting the link. As much as I liked the burger, I couldn't quite stomach LaBan's crooning....

Franziska Hintzen said...

Last week I went to the restaurant good dog. I found out it was a burger bar, where they sell the best cheeseburger in town. For me service and professional attitudes of the staff is a very important thing when I am eating out. That was not the case at that burger bar. The stuff was so indifferent.
The food was okay, but there is nothing innovative about a cheeseburger, so it wasn’t really my taste. I think if I should come back to that restaurant they have to change the attitude of their staff and perhaps add some new and different dishes to the menu.

Anonymous said...

Franziska I must say i went to the good dog too and it was great! We went a couple of friends and it was a lot of fun. Partly, it was fun because the waiters were joking with us which always make set the stage for a good meal experiences. They would comment on the beers as well and gave us samples of the various beers. Perfection! Sometimes you don't want to eat innovative food, but just have fun with friends, and I think that you should go to haute cusine restaurant if innovative is what you want. I'm loving the good dog.
Regards Maj Bergh

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