This weekend Team Lowlife set out for a fun Sunday dinner within walking distance of Union Depot. Our first few choices (Tanpopo, Handsome Hog, Babani’s) were closed. But luckily and unsurprisingly, Black Dog Cafe was open.
Once upon a time, Black Dog served tasty but indistinct breakfast plates, sandwiches, pizzas and pastries. The food was good enough to come back for more and the vibe of the place added enough comfort and flavor to compensate for what the food lacked. This Sunday, however, was our first time dining in the cafe post-CHS Field era. As of last summer (2016), the cafe’s decor and menu have undergone considerable renovations. While it’s easy to hate on the woeful byproducts that accompany gentrification, we were pleasantly surprised by how unique, visually pleasing and tasty their food was. Black Dog’s new menu made for a delicious four-course meal, which is reviewed beneath. We kept this meal vegetarian, but we consumed our fair share of cheese, starting with:
CHEESE CURDS: Ellsworth Co-op Creamery curds with different craft beer batter weekly.
Imagine sitting down to dinner at Black Dog, with only memories of their pre-renovation cheese and fruit plate to set your expectations, only to be thrown into ecstasy by the best cheese curds you’ve ever tasted! This was multi-sensory experience. Oozy, elastic, hot stretchy cheese…straight from the deep fryer, crispy and sprinkled with coarse salt and something vaguely peppery. To top it off, the curds came with a ramekin of sweet, creamy, mustard-y dipping sauce. $9
These cheese curds were also huge and globby. Example A:
ARUGULA SALAD: Red wine vinaigrette, fennel, apple, and toasted almonds.
This salad was a perfect follow-up to the cheese curds: simple, fresh, and light. A little bit bitter with thinly sliced apples for sweetness. I liked how it was piled into a tall mound in the middle of the plate.
RATATOUILLE: Roasted vegetables and fresh herbs, open faced on a French roll.
Although this dish was technically the entree, it was out-shined by the appetizers and pretty much forgotten at the sight of dessert. The fries were actually delicious, especially with the Sriracha aioli. But the ratatouille sandwich was essentially delicious sauteed vegetables on an unmemorable piece of bread. It seemed a little like an afterthought to please the vegetarian patrons. And despite this criticism, we were still pleased.
TOASTED COCONUT OAT CAKE: With vanilla bean frosting and walnuts.
This meal started with a bang and ended with a BAANNGG. The toasted coconut oat cake was dense, moist, sweet, nutty, and crunchy/chewy on top. The best dessert I’ve ever had at Black Dog, and definitely top 10 in Lowertown.
Thanks Black Dog! We’ll be back…
– Team Lowlife