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  • Writer's pictureMarina Veronica

Dining Out: Restaurants for Dogs!

From special menus for canine companions to food trucks and even tasting menus, some restaurateurs are pulling out all the stops for pets.

(Article by Christina Morales, NY Times, April 20, 2023)

To celebrate the 10-month anniversary of the successful spinal surgery on Jagger, her goldendoodle, Cat Torrejon-Nisbet didn’t buy him the traditional rawhide dog bone. Instead, she paid $15 for a light pink, rose-shaped dog pastry made with antelope heart from Dogue, a canine restaurant in San Francisco.

Dog owners like Ms. Torrejon-Nisbet are frequenting an increasing number of restaurants across the country that offer separate menus for their four-legged family members. Dog menus have become the new version of children’s menus at some restaurants. Pet parents can now order their dog a steak or Alaskan salmon with steamed rice. The dog can wash that down with a nonalcoholic “beer” made of pork broth, or a bowl of Dög Pawrignon made with wild-caught-salmon oil.

Other restaurants have gone a step further, catering exclusively to dogs, from custom canine birthday cakes to food trucks serving chicken nuggets and burgers. At Dogue, dogs eat a fine-dining tasting menu.

Kelly Lockett, 32, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, has taken Benji, her mini schnauzer mix, to several New York restaurants with dog menus, including Judy Z’s in Greenwich Village. “He gets so happy, and he enjoys spending time with us and not spending time home alone,” she said.

In San Francisco, Jason Villacampa, 40, has treated his corgis, Tony and Captain, to the tasting menu at Dogue four times. It costs $75 per dog, with complimentary sparkling water or mimosas for the owner.

On a recent visit, Mr. Villacampa said, the chef, Rahmi Massarweh, explained the dishes the dogs were about to eat, detailing which local farm provided each ingredient and how each meal was prepared. He served bone broth tableside, and put the finishing touches to plates like mosaic chicken, thin strips of white meat wrapped in nori, layered together and cooked in a water bath. Mr. Massarweh, a chef for 20 years, trained in French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco.

“Pets are members of our family, and we equally want to feed them that way,” said Ron Holloway, who owns Woofbowl, a food truck based in Dumbo, Brooklyn, that caters to dogs. Mr. Holloway and his wife, Solo Holloway, a former biochemical and electrical engineer, started the mobile restaurant after making more nutritious meals from scratch for their French bulldogs, Latto and Dino. Mr. Holloway, a military veteran, and his wife, a Cambodian refugee, adopted the dogs as part of his treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Just as some people celebrate their birthdays or holidays at restaurants, many dog owners do the same for their pets. Owners order custom cakes — like one shaped as a ramen bowl for a Shih Tzu named Ramen — from businesses like Maison de Pawz in New York, a dog bakery and catering company where they can choose from flavors like peanut butter, Funfetti, coconut, spiced apple or carob (chocolate is toxic to dogs). The dense cakes are made with buckwheat flour and coconut oil, and though humans can eat it, they probably wouldn’t like the taste, said Mei-i Zien, the owner of the bakery.

Ashley Marino, who lives on the Upper East Side, is planning to take Henry, her Maltipoo, to a birthday brunch at the Wilson later this month. She’ll probably order him his favorite dish, chicken with baby vegetables in a dog bowl, and he’ll later eat a bacon- or banana-flavored cupcake. (She hasn’t decided which.)

“I want to experience this with him,” said Ms. Marino, 37. She and her boyfriend celebrate birthdays with brunch, and would like to do the same for Henry. “It sounds so ridiculous to say out loud. It’s just nice to take him out and treat him to something. We’re all enjoying this together.”

When Joey, a Yorkshire terrier, visits New York City, his owner Rachel Choi, 25, usually takes him to socialize at a dog park on the Lower East Side. But Ms. Choi said he makes it clear, with his whining at the entrance, that he doesn’t want to be there. He wants to go to Boris & Horton, which has air-conditioning, to enjoy a peanut butter cupcake and have other people pet him.

“He just seems to have a bright mood there in a way that he doesn’t have anywhere else,” she said.

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