First, we get artisan coffee and an all-around cool spot to hang at Coffee Commissary. Just a few short weeks ago, the ladies of Lindy & Grundy opened shop, serving organic and eclectic butchered meats. And now, The Fat Dog opens up - all in the same cozy little plaza at 801 N. Fairfax. The best part? This is MY neighborhood, and what was once a drab stretch of unrealized potential here on North Fairfax has transformed itself into the perfect afternoon hang. Last weekend, Angela and I walked over and managed to hit up all three in one fell swoop. What more could you ask for?
The Fat Dog's beer selection certainly may not put the Surly Goat (the all things craft beer bar around the corner) out of business, but it's nice to have more solid beer options around my neighborhood (i.e. within stumbling distance from home). This is The Fat Dog's second location (the first is in Montrose). Both dog-centric and dog-friendly, TFD looks to be a slightly upscale neighborhood outpost. The cocktail list (below) is nothing to wag your tail at either - the drink names are full of playful nods to man's best friend. You'll even find some bottles of Hair of the Dog beer.
Service may have been a little flustered on our premiere visit - I think they were a server short - but certainly not for lack of trying. No doubt, the lunch rush kinks will be worked out in no time. The meal started off with some almonds (below, left), toasted with oil, rosemary and thyme.
To drink (below, right), Angela had the Eagle Rock Populist IPA, which is aged in Spanish Cedar. It had a really strong, grassy nose, but that didn't prevent her from getting a second. My Craftsman Heavenly Hefeweizen uses German yeast to provide that uniquely refreshing banana flavor that you miss in the American versions. Locally brewed, the Craftsman was the perfect beer to enjoy on a lazy, sunny Saturday afternoon.
Of course, it wouldn't be a gastropub without the gastronomic offerings. The menu is ripe with somewhat refined pub favorites like chicken wings, crisp rock shrimp and warm soft pretzels (with imported beer and cheese fondue). The entrees include a fried-egg panini, a reuben (made with Guinness-braised cabbage and gruyere) and even a house-cured salmon sandwich. But for my meal, I went straight for the burger (below), which comes with a side of fries for $12.
Angela supplemented the meal with a side of sweet potato fries (below). The Fat Dog's are pretty standard. No revelations here, but no disappointments either. Just thin and tasty sweet potato fries served plain and simple with a side of ketchup and dijon.
But that burger turned out to be quite the surprise. Maybe it was just my modest expectations, but I loved everything about Fat Dog's burger (below). The ground sirloin was cooked to about a medium (a touch more than I'd prefer, but all good), and came topped with caramelized onions, shaved manchego and baby arugula. The brioche bun actually had a nice, flavorful substance and was grilled so sogginess was never a problem. One of LA's more popular burgers comes from Golden State Cafe just down the street and they better look out, 'cuz The Fat Dog's Burger is playing in the same league.
A second visit yielded a few more enjoyable dishes. The potato skins (below) are topped with east coast crab, honey-cured bacon, asparagus and hollandaise. A little pricey at $12, but you might find some of the food to be cheaper during happy hour, when these little guys go for $6.
And there are a handful of mac n' cheese options. The Jalapeno Mac & Cheese was probably the weaker of the two I sampled, though I declined to add crab or bacon for an extra $5, which probably would have made it exponentially more awesome (though, isn't $5 a bit much to add a little bit of bacon?). The Chili Mac on the other hand, was delicious. A hearty portion of ground turkey and elbow macaroni came topped with cheddar cheese, sour cream and onions.
The house's signature dish, The Fat Dog was unfortunately unavailable on my second visit. I'll likely be back to check it out. And I'll be back for that burger. And I'll be back for the beers. And I'm really looking forward to whatever pops up next in the 801 N. Fairfax space.