We convinced my Aunt from Montreal to come for a visit. I always like to take some sort of day trip to any number of lovely places within a few hours of London. Last summer we went back to St. Jacob’s (a perennial favourite).
This time my sister, my mother, my aunt and I headed north to Bayfield, Ontario. An idyllic, picturesque village on Lake Huron. It is a lovely, lovely, place to spend a lazy summer afternoon. We took our time, walking around and browsing and grabbing a quick bite to eat… or so we thought.
I blog, I use social media on a daily (o.k. probably hourly) basis. I like to write about things I’ve done, places I’ve visited and food I’ve eaten. It also means that I search for information about the same things from other people.
I’m social. I work in social media. You can see where I am going with this. As we drove up, I asked my sister to Google restaurant reviews for eateries. She found The Black Dog Village Pub and Bistro on TripAdvisor. I’m a big fan of TripAdvisor, I regularly contribute hotel, attraction and food reviews, so it is a website that I trust. As she scrolled through the listing of reviews, here were some of the comments:
It was rated as #2 on TripAdvisor. That is always a good sign. It was enticing when we drove by and the patio was full. All good signs for a good eatery. We decided that with the beautiful weather we would take advantage of the patio. We asked for a table. Told there would be a 20 minute wait. He took our name, we walked round a bit. Killed some time window shopping. We returned 15 minutes later and then waited… and waited. and waited another 15-20 minutes to be seated. It was going to be worth it. I was sure. Besides, we were ladies of leisure that day just relaxing and taking the day off.
Once seated, we reviewed the menu. It is an extensive menu with a bit of everything for everyone. Soup, salads, sandwiches, burgers. Nice combinations of ingredients. The Meatloaf sandwiched looked intriguing. veggie curry, Irish, British, Scottish or Welsh burgers, rigatoni with spicy sausage & eggplant … Great variety.
There was a $5 Ontario Beer special that we took advantage of… except the beer we ordered (which was still on promo) was a St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale from Montreal, Quebec. I thought it was amusing to feature a Quebec beer when you are promoting Ontario beer. I shouldn’t complain because I really did love the taste of this beer. Have one if you have a chance.
As we were pretty hungry by this time we quickly decided on what to eat and we order the following dishes:
My mom had the one piece of the Fish and Chips (Haddock in a homemade beer batter):
Although the piece of fish was rather big, more then enough for my mother, I found that it was over-cooked. The batter was very thick and there was a moderate amount of fish inside. It was a pretty average-tasting piece of fish in my opinion. Nothing special, nothing to send back. The fries were also a bit too done and were a bit heavy. I would have to say that I would not order this again.
My Aunt had the Roasted Beet Salad:
This beet salad had nice flavour and was a reasonable size. There was lightly marinated beets with goat cheese, arugula and toasted walnuts. My aunt opted for the milder dressing so we did not get a chance to taste the horseradish vinaigrette. I love beets and roasted ones taste even better.
It was a nice salad, but anything that I can make at home, fairly easily, is not a show-stopper for me. If I returned, I would probably try the Cobb Salad instead (more depth and a greater variety of ingredients).
My sister had the Crispy Chicken Club (panko-crusted chicken breast, double-smoked bacon, avocado mayo, tomato, lettuce and an ace bakery Portuguese bun). I didn’t take a picture of the Crispy Chicken club because, frankly, it didn’t look that great. It was over cooked and tasted dry. Nothing juicy about the chicken in that sandwich. It sounded good to begin with (avocado mayo?… yum…unfortunately, you could not taste it at all). One more dish that was nothing special.
I had the Welsh Burger and Caesar Salad (instead of fries):
First and foremost, I have to say that after tasting my mother’s fries, I was pretty glad that I went with the Caesar Salad. It had crispy bacon (yum) and the usual fixings’ but the dressing lacked flavour. ADD some more Garlic please, Black Dog Pub… it is a Caesar after all, not a ‘Ranch’ dressing salad.
As we get to the burger we will make our way from top to bottom. Artisanal bun (yummy), lettuce, tomatoes, pickles (standard stuff). Then the fun stuff: a fried egg (good but would have been better if the yolk had not be broken already). By the time it came to my table, the yolk had soaked into the bun and spread over most of my plate. Good taste but not a pleasant sight. Then you hit the red dragon cheddar (good enough)… and then THE LEEKS…wait, where are the leeks? They (and the fried egg) were the reasons I order this big daddy burger, I was pressed to find them. I eventually found them, well hidden under the cheddar cheese. *sigh* Leeks cooked in butter have a subtle onion flavour and are a treat when done well. This was not the case in my Welsh Burger. They were super-thin, not very many and overshadowed by the cheese.
OK… We finally come to the “8 oz. grass-fed Canadian Beef” patty. Oh… this is going to be good… I know it…
Disappointment yet again.
The beef lacked any good seasoning (it was pretty bland) and to top things off, they had cooked it well beyond the medium-rare that I requested. This was well done and dry. Very, very dry.
Man ‘o man… I was so disappointed. I was looking forward to a big juicy burger and all I got was bland, dried and uneventful.
Did I send it back? I would have. Any other time, I would have sent it back but I didn’t because you see, we received our meal probably 55 minutes to an hour after we were seated. Yes… ONE HOUR. I knew if I sent it back, it would take forever to get a new one. I was starving by now and that was not going to work. Besides, how do you send back 3 out of 4 dishes?
It was frustrating enough that we had to ask when our meal was coming once the table of FOUR behind us was being served and they had arrived significantly after us. “They are having salads” is what she told us. Really, that is what you have for us? What about all those tables of two that have gotten their food?
What does that mean? It means a mediocre meal was then brought to us.
So picture this:
- We waited 30 + minutes for our table
- We waited 55 + minutes for our meal
- They were full but not unreasonably full
- Everything BUT the salad was over cooked
Ranked # two on TripAdvisor? Not in my books.
Would I recommend The Black Dog Village Pub and Bistro? No.
Why: Overall the experience, the food and the service was underwhelming.
and half out of five
This is an opinion piece and a restaurant review. All opinions are my own… your experience may be different but I tasted all the dishes (I would have ordered any of them).