My miniature schnauzer, Suki, has all the attributes of a food critic. She may look cute, but despite her fluffy exterior she can deliver the chilling gaze of Grace Dent, the sarcasm of Jay Rayner, and a bark that could make even Gordon Ramsay seem like a teddy bear.
The only problem is that Suki cannot critique food. And not just because she is a dog, but because she eats anything and everything without discernment – whether that’s cake crumbs on a cafe floor, or a half-eaten baguette discovered while scavenging out on a walk.
Flavour, technique and presentation are simply superfluous to Suki. As long as a dish is vaguely edible, it will be wolfed down faster than Gregg Wallace can shout “delightful”. If my dog was given power over the Michelin Guide, she would be handing out stars with every wag of her tail, from Alain Ducasse to KFC.
Yet with Suki’s 12th birthday on the horizon, I decided to treat her to a special dining adventure to find out whether she may, in fact, have the makings of a gourmand. We are eating out in the capital, and instead of being left at the door, Suki is the guest of honour.
Our first reservation is brunch at M Victoria, a chic steakhouse popular for after-work drinks, business lunches and romantic dates. But it’s also the ultimate hotspot to take that other someone special: in addition to monthly “cook for your dog” masterclasses, run by executive chef Michael Reid, the restaurant hosts a six-legged brunch on Saturdays. Since becoming fido-friendly, M has hosted numerous canine get-togethers, such as a four-legged disco, a pooch pool party, and most recently a Valentine’s Day-themed Love Island affair.
Despite her unrefined palate, there is one dining foible my dog cannot abide and that is tardy service. If her meal is served a fraction later than expected, she announces it to the household with an unabating yap and throws her bed across the room. Thankfully, there are no such diva strops today. The waiter makes a fuss of Suki, fetching a bowl of water and an amuse bouche treat, and the food soon arrives. As I tuck into chicken livers on sourdough, Suki makes short work of black pudding granola: impressive given her lack of front teeth.
My second course is a hotchpotch of American fare: buttermilk-fried chicken waffles, eggs, and peanut-butter ice cream. It shouldn’t work, but my goodness it tastes delicious. Suki, meanwhile, receives a bowl of bone marrow risotto, which in her haste, she manages to get stuck all over her beard. This must be the finest meal she’s ever had.
It’s time for a lazy stroll through St James’s Park, before heading to our second appointment: afternoon tea at Sketch. Mayfair’s eclectic multi-function Georgian townhouse – part gallery, part brasserie, part fancy fine-dining restaurant with Lewis Caroll-inspired fixtures and famous dinosaur-egg loos – does not have a menu specifically for dogs, but canine visitors are welcome to hang out in The Parlour until 5pm. As the waiter guides us to our table, weaving in between old-fashioned tea trolleys, I grip Suki’s lead a little tighter. Forget bulls in china shops: schnauzers can be even more destructive. To my relief, she neither hares off after the patisserie, nor squats on the varnished floorboards.
The Parlour has a Mad-Hatterish feel (our seats sport ballet shoes en pointe), and Suki seems a little befuddled by her surroundings. With my pot of peppermint tea I order dainty finger sandwiches and petit fours. Suki gobbles up a few titbits appreciatively, and the service gets a paws up from both of us. Our hostess gives her more attention than she has received in a very long time, and a charismatic waiter treats her like royalty, keeping us well entertained and hydrated. Yet as we spill out onto Conduit, Suki is beginning to flag – it’s hard work eating for a living.
We have one more appointment: Smith & Whistle, a bar tastefully designed to resemble a 1920s detective agency, with notebook-style menus, bowler hats and umbrellas – and a very generous dog-friendly policy. Of course, countless pubs allow canine drinkers. But if you fancy somewhere with a little more atmosphere and tequila, you may be searching in vain. At Smith & Whistle, however, alongside craft beers, wines and adventurous cocktails, the mixologists serve up London’s first ever “dogtail” menu.
There’s a Poochie Colada (coconut water, kale and broccoli, to help keep “coats glossy and joints healthy”), Hound’s Hops (a dog “beer”), and Bubbly Bow Wow (a “pawsecco” herbal infusion – yes, really). It takes me longer choosing Suki’s cocktail than my own; I can’t quite picture her downing pints or gin. So she gets the Bubbly Bow Wow, which comes in a bowl topped with liquidised blueberries. She laps it up noisily.
Even though her eyes are drooping, she looks like she is in heaven. On the train ride home she snuggles on my lap, gently snoring. I hope that I have taught my mini schnauzer a little more about the world of fine dining. But as we cross the platform she suddenly tugs the lead and makes a dive for a discarded McDonald’s carton. I guess old habits die hard.
READ MORE: What your dog reveals about you (even though you may not realise it)
READ MORE: London’s best restaurants, according to The Telegraph’s food critics
Source: Thanks https://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/features/day-dining-dog-six-legged-brunch-evening-dogtails/