Review: Dog and Duck Pub

I can’t believe I haven’t written a whole post about the Dog and Duck Pub yet!

When I moved back to Austin from the UK in 2006, I chose my apartment based on proximity to the Capitol and the University (one of which I hoped to be employed by, both of which I have worked at in the past six years)… and Dog and Duck.

I’ve been a quasi-regular since 1998, when I was underage and enjoyed Cherry Cokes, fish and chips, and the Anglophile ambiance of the place.  Since moving into the neighborhood, I’m a fixture; the boy and I stop in at least twice a week on average.

Not only is the place cozy, unpretentious, and shockingly pub-like, but they also have the best staff in town, excellent food, a great jukebox, and an unrivaled selection of draught beers (about 40 at recent count, plus another 30 bottles and cans).

Rather than do a traditional review, I’m just going to present a photo essay of Dog and Duck’s greatest hits.

Here’s a basic grilled cheese with a huge pile of french fries.  They also do a deluxe grilled cheese with fresh basil and three cheeses.  Fancy!

The bar.  See the current beer selection and specials here.  Don’t miss Tuesday pint night—all regular beers are on special, $3.00-3.50 per pint.  They also serve wine and a selection of soft drinks (free refills on the latter!).

Shepherd’s pie.  I had never ordered a shepherd’s pie at Dog and Duck until a few weeks ago, believe it or not, but it was really great, so now I’m on a shepherd’s pie kick.  Perfect for cool nights.  Mmm.

Best fish and chips in town, hands down.  There’s a reason they regularly win the Austin Chronicle Restaurant Poll “Best Pub Grub” award!  Crispy batter, flaky white fish, lemon wedges, malt vinegar—served on a bed of expertly fried fries.  What could be better?  That’s right—nothing.  Available as a full or half order!

I am also a big fan of the lamb gyro.  This constitutes a light meal at Dog and Duck!  The tzatziki is cool and refreshing; the feta is crumbly and generous; and the lamb is perfect!  Succulent, flavorful, and a little crunchy around the edges.  I want one right now just thinking about it.

Though most famous for their fish and chips and other pub grub, Dog and Duck also has one of the best burgers in town, for my money.  I order a burger half the time, probably!  This is a standard cheeseburger and fries.  Their burgers are made from scratch; I don’t know the actual weight, but very often I suspect it’s a half pounder, because I can’t even finish it.  Eric and I actually split a burger and fries quite often.  They also have a really good veggie burger, which we order on occasion.

Dog and Duck is a great hangout for watching the English Premiere League; most games are on if they’re on air during their opening hours.  And they also have a dart board and pinball machine.  BYO chess, though.

Another classic British dinner: bangers and mash (I can’t believe I don’t have my own recipe up; must rectify that shortly!).  This is a huge, huge plate.  Don’t order it unless you are ravenous, plan to be there a long time, or have a friend to help!  It’s so good, though.  Three pan-fried sausages topped with onions and gravy, served with a scoop of mashed potatoes, a large side of baked beans, and two giant slices of Texas toast.  You can’t go wrong with this, mate.

Didn’t I tell you the atmosphere is pretty nice?

Here’s my favorite speciality hamburger: the Spicy Black and Blue Burger!  It comes with bleu cheese, bacon, and adobo sauce.  To.  Die.  For.

On the lighter side, you might also fancy a nice salad, like this Caesar with chicken.  The salads are large enough to make a whole meal, and are always fresh and tasty.  You might not think of this when considering lunch at the pub, but I highly recommend you try one!  They have several big, hearty salads on the menu.

Dog and Duck also puts on the largest St. Patrick’s Day party in Austin.  It’s an institution.  Here’s KUT’s beloved Ed Miller and the amazing Rich Brotherton on stage at this year’s celebration.  I have to say, though I enjoy this raucous day and night at Dog and Duck, I don’t understand why they don’t do anything for St. George’s Day, or have a regular EPL schedule.  Since they’re an English pub and all…  The place becomes Irish for one day a year.  It’s pretty funny.

Finally, they also have amazing lunch specials.  Many state and UT workers head over on their lunch break to take advantage.  I had this soup, salad, and sandwich combo last week with my friend Phillip: spicy potato and chipotle creamed soup; bacon, cheddar, and arugula melt on sourdough with onion and a sriracha sauce; side salad. Including a soft drink (free refills), it’s a steal at $8.50!  I already posted a closeup of the bacon sandwich in last week’s This Week’s Eats, but check it out.  This was the best bacon sandwich I have ever eaten in my life.

If this post made you drool, get on over there right now!  Today’s lunch special is a pesto turkey pita melt: grilled turkey with bacon bits, balsamic tomatoes, arugula, parmesan pesto spread, mozzarella, and Romano cheese on a toasted pita. Served with chips, fries, or lightly battered asparagus—$8.50!

You can find out about daily specials by liking Dog and Duck’s Facebook page, following them on Twitter, or checking their web site.  It’s usually announced on Facebook first.

Cheers, and see you there!

Dog and Duck Pub
406 West 17th Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 479-0598

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Review: Fadó Irish Pub and Restaurant

As we get deeper into Euro 2012, I thought it was about time I finally got around to writing about Fadó.  Fadó has been in Austin about as long as I have, give or take a few years (I’ve been here since 1997, with a four-year detour in the UK).  I went there a couple of times in college (including, once, with members of the Secret Service—ask me about that story sometime off the record), but I hadn’t spent much time there since returning to Austin six years ago, aside from a couple of  quiz nights and one very fun Blaggards show.

Let's throw in a Gerrard pic, because, hey, why not?

Let’s throw in a Gerrard pic, because, hey, why not?

Since the boy moved to Austin, though, I’ve gotten into watching soccer again.  I was introduced to the glory of the Beautiful Game while studying at Lancaster University, in England.  Most of my roommates were from Merseyside, so we watched a lot of Liverpool matches, and I’ve loved them ever since.  Steven Gerrard has been my favorite player since 1999.  Let’s not talk about this season.

Thank to Eric’s status as a professional soccer blogger, I’ve had the opportunity to get beyond the Thighlights and really appreciate the sport.  We only have an old, thirteen inch television; for most big matches we go to a bar or a friend’s house.  We’ve spent most of our time at Fadó this season, and, a few weeks ago they kindly invited us to a sports bloggers’ happy hour.  So please note that some items I review below were comped on that occasion.  We also received appetizer and drink passes (good throughout the Euro), a Guinness pint glass, and amazing T-shirts.

The atmosphere at Fadó is really nice: it’s both cozy (thanks to the secluded wooden booths) and convivial (thanks to all the soccer fans).  The design of the place is based on a traditional, nineteenth century Irish pub, and, though Fadó is a chain, the result is very homey and comfortable.  I don’t think I’ve ever been to Fadó and left in less than four hours!  The crowd is mixed and diverse, changing based on the event (they also host parties, pub quizzes, and rugby fans).  The staff is attentive and helpful, although you may find it difficult to get a refill in the middle of, say, the FA Cup.  Parking can also be a problem due to Fadó’s prime location in the Warehouse District.  For soccer watching, I’d advise either arriving early and scoring on-street parking or simply riding Capital Metro.  Another thing I really like about Fadó is the fact that I have never had to wait in line for the women’s room!  In fact, they even have a secondary set of restrooms on their back patio.

Now, on to the food!  Let’s start with the beer selection, shall we?

Fadó has a great selection of British and Irish beers on draught, including Bass, Boddington’s (our favorite, lately), Guinness, Harp, Kilkenny Cream, Newcastle Brown, Smithwick’s, and Strongbow, in addition to some typical Continental offerings, including Carlsberg, Hoegaarden, and Stella Artois.

The list of bottled beers is even longer, encompassing everything from Coors Light to Magners Pear Cider; and the whiskey menu is very impressive indeed, with 21 offerings, including a whole array of Bushmills and Jameson as well as five more Irish whiskeys and eight varieties of Scotch.  They also serve wine, liquor, and some delicious Irish coffees.

Our favorite dish is the Hangover Sandwich, consisting of two fried eggs, Irish sausages, bacon rashers, and Irish cheddar, all served between thick slices of tasty, tasty sourdough and served with potato wedges and ketchup.  Since the full menu isn’t available until 11:00am, and we are often at the pub early to catch a live EPL match, this is our go-to order at Fadó.  At $9.95, it’s also a great deal; sometimes, we split it.

The Smoked Salmon Bites ($8.95 for four) were a bit of a revelation for me.  Generally, I am not a fan of smoked salmon (I know), finding it a tad too fishy for my tastes, especially when paired with the distinctive and decidedly pickled flavor of capers.  However, these bites were excellent, and I plan to order them again.  They were packed with flavor and well balanced with the horseradish (I love horseradish).  I could’ve eaten a whole pile of them!

The Smithwick’s Mini Burgers ($8.95) were also fantastic: three Smithwick’s ale-flavored beef burgers served on adorable little grilled buns with Guinness mayonnaise, pickles, onions, and melted cheese.  The burgers were perfectly cooked (medium well), and combined beautifully with the other flavors.  These are some must-eat sliders.  They were a big hit with our friends, too.

The first time we had Fadó’s Cheese Dip and Wedges was a couple of years ago when we attended a weeknight pub quiz*, and we’ve been talking about it ever since.  These things are so addictive!  I don’t know what they do to this queso (the menu just says it’s a “creamy blend of Irish cheddar, pepper jack cheese and green onion”), but it’s one of my favorite appetizers in Austin, especially in the winter.  The boxty wedges are deep fried, and each bite just melts in your mouth in a delicious symphony of cheese.  At $8.95 per order, I’ve been known to demand two in a single visit!

I have to talk about the Bangers and Mash.  The first time I ordered this was during the aforementioned FA Cup.  I couldn’t believe my eyes: there were five bangers, on top of a mountain of mashed potatoes and peas.  Maybe it was because I’d been sick for two weeks and had little to no appetite in the days preceding my visit, or maybe it was just because I am a Huge Glutton, but, for once, my stomach was as big as my eyes, and I ate the entire thing.  And I saw that it was good.  The Bangers and Mash are $12.95, but, honestly, this would make two meals for most normal people.  So, so good.  (Photo by kittygutz on Flickr.)

Be sure to check out the rest of the traditional pub menu, too, because Fadó is definitely a great place to get your fix of  British Isles comfort food.  In addition to the Guinness and Tayto Crisps on offer at the bar, they also serve up Corned Beef and Cabbage, Fish and Chips, and a decadent Shepherd’s Pie.  The have dessert, too (though I can’t imagine ever having room to order any!).

Fadó also offers a discounted happy hour appetizer menu, featuring a BBQ Chicken and Bacon Boxty, Caprese Salad, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Boxty Wedges, and Smithwick’s Mini Burgers for $4.00!  And be sure to check out their brunch menu, which includes a generous All-Day Irish Breakfast ($13.95 gets you two eggs, Irish breakfast sausages, both black and white puddings, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, and pan-fried potato bread!  I die.), $3.00 Bloody Marys and Mimosas, and a great fusion dish: the Breakfast Boxty Quesadilla (scrambled eggs, sausage, and bacon mized with pico and pepperjack cheese and served between two fried boxties, $10.95).

If you’re looking for a fun, lively spot to watch international soccer with a great beer and whiskey selection and an impressive, Irish-accented menu, check out Fadó.  You’ll probably see us there!

Fadó Irish Pub and Restaurant
214 West 4th Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 457-0172

*We came in fourth out of twenty-something teams, even though ours only had three members!  Somehow, all the questions were about the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and existentialist philosophers.  If only there had been a Gone with the Wind category, we would’ve totally destroyed the competition!

Homebrewed Coffee Milk Stout


This is just a teaser. A full post will come later, when I have time.

We popped open the first bottle of our homebrewed Coffee Milk Stout last night (a little early, I admit!), and it was amazing. It was thick, dark, opaque—not red in the light, like Guinness. It smells like coffee, with a kick of parsley (?). It’s smooth, with no bitterness, and complex. It tastes like coffee—just the right amount of flavor, not overpowering. It finishes clean. I can’t wait to share the whole process with you soon. Eric made it with our pals Mike* and Kris.

*What kind of freak doesn’t have a blog?

RIP, Davy

I am heartbroken over the death, at 66, of my first crush, Davy Jones.

All these years, I’d somehow thought that I was the only little girl who was devastated to find out that the adorable, 21-year-old Davy I loved watching on TV in the 1980s was in fact twenty years older.  Like so many other fans over several decades, I was convinced that one day I’d marry Davy.  Reading other people’s personal remembrances today has been very meaningful.

My very first concert was the Monkees, in 1987, at the Dallas Starplex at Fair Park.  I remember being so excited, and it was extraordinary because my mom was just as excited as I was!  She was 16 when The Monkees premiered in 1966.  Ten years later, when Nickelodeon introduced them to a whole new generation in syndication, I was seven.  Apparently, Weird Al Yankovic opened that show.  I called my mom to commiserate about our sadness this afternoon, and we warmly recalled that concert; neither of us had any recollection of Weird Al!  We were too Monkee-struck, I guess.

It’s funny.  A couple of weeks ago, when Eric and I were at Austin Homebrew, “Daydream Believer” came on, and I couldn’t help but smile.  I sang and danced, right there at the register (rather out of character for me–I am one of those people who doesn’t dance).  And just last week, right here on this blog I discussed the fact that Davy Jones was the catalyst for my 25 years of Anglophilia.  In fact, he was the ultimate cause of my moving to England, an experience that changed the course of my life in infinite ways.

Even though I am 25 years younger than the Monkees’ original fanbase, hearing their music always takes me right back to my childhood, and to a time of innocent, smiling earnestness.  Davy’s contagious, adorable performances always, always brought me pure, shameless joy–and still do.  Unlike a certain writer at NPR, I am not in the least bit embarrassed of my love for this particular Mr. Jones.  “Daydream Believer” is pure pop perfection, and I have said for years that “I’m A Believer” is in my top ten pop songs (I dare you to listen to it right now and disagree).  “Pleasant Valley Sunday” is still culturally relevant.  Their TV show provided a sort of self-referential meta-commentary still that strikes me as very contemporary and, amid the slapstick and zany antics, introduced millions of American kids to the counter culture (remember the Frank Zappa episode?).  I love the Monkees and always will.

Another thirty-something commented on one of the articles I read this afternoon, talking about the unexpectedly deep grief they felt upon hearing the news, “Before I met Lennon and McCartney, I knew Micky and Davy.”  That’s how I feel, too.

Davy was very talented (did you know he was nominated for a Tony for his 1963 performance in Oliver!?), famously generous to fans, and an incredibly charismatic performer.  He will be deeply missed.

Review: Full English

(with bonus British food mini-memoir)

As if you needed any further proof that I am a homebody and rarely leave the campus-Capitol vortex, this place has been open for two and a half years, and I just went there last weekend.

In a city that practically runs on a steady diet of barbecue and tacos, an English café should certainly stand out. Unfortunately, British food still has a terrible reputation for blandness, a reputation borne of decades of rationing and a penchant for overboiling. The recent piece by NPR, “Dining After ‘Downtown Abbey’: Why British Food Was So Bad For So Long” pretty much sums it up. If you think British food is bad, I urge you to go read that piece, then come back here with an open mind.

Done?

Okay.

Davy Jones

Davy Jones

British food is not bad. It is amazing. As everyone who’s met me knows, I lived in England for four years (plus a study abroad trip as an undergraduate, plus three vacations spent there). I have been an Anglophile since approximately age seven, when I met Davy Jones on Nick at Nite.  I was devastated when my mother told me that The Monkees was twenty years old, Davy was in his forties, and I could never marry him.  Somehow, the bell bottoms and tambourines and Frank Zappa hadn’t tipped me off.  Anyway, from there I became obsessed with all things British, and I always, always wanted to move there.  When I was 21, in the year 2000, I did.  I like to say I did it in protest of Bush’s selection, making myself one of the few who made that threat and followed through on it, but, really, I wanted to study English literature at the University of York.  It was the culmination of a lifelong goal of moving to England.

And I loved it.

Though I had been to the UK three times previously, including on a semester-long study abroad course at Lancaster, it wasn’t until I moved there permanently that I encountered authentic British food.  I regularly ate home-cooked Sunday lunches in the homes of welcoming Yorkshire villagers, who invariably presented me with a plate piled impossibly high with juicy, expertly roasted meat, mashed potatoes, new potatoes, roast potatoes (and the English know how to roast a potato), Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, “sweet corn” (or as we call it, corn), peas (or as we call them, English peas), and hot Yorkshire puddings, all topped with lashings of rich beef gravy.

Frolicking in the bluebells, April 2004

Frolicking in the bluebells, April 2004

I had hundreds of varieties of curry (often called–and not erroneously–the National Dish of Britain), everything from Essex take-away to Brick Lane back alley to expensive restaurants. I’ve tried balti, biryani, and tikka masala; chicken tandoori, chicken masala, and coronation chicken; roghan josh, jalfrezi, and vindaloo.  But my favorite remains korma, with its creamy saffron and coconut delicacy.  I haven’t found a korma in Texas that comes to close to that served at the cheapest curry house in Britain.

Fish and chips and I go way back; I used to love to go to Long John Silver’s as a child, and throughout high school and college I infamously snacked on their batter crumbs and bought whole bottles of Long John’s branded malt vinegar to soak my fries in at home.  (Okay, okay, I still do those things.)  But the fish and chips in the UK are of another order entirely: usually haddock or cod, skin-on, well battered, huge, and fried till very crisp.  They may, in fact, be the perfect food.  Back in the old days, they were served wrapped up in newspaper and showered in salt; now you’ll get them in white wax paper.  Most “chippies” are take-aways.  You stand in line (a long line if they place is really good and it’s near lunch or dinnertime), order your choice of fish (they also serve an array of other fast food, including fish cakes, sausages-on-a-stick, and even curried chips), pay, douse your dinner in salt and vinegar, and go out on the street to chow down.  It’s a whole experience.  Best enjoyed at midnight, while slightly inebriated.

I enjoyed warm sausage rolls and roasted chestnuts and roast beef sandwiches from street vendors, and tried Cornish pasties in Perranporth.  I primly ate miniature cress sandwiches and sampled tiny cakes at Betty’s in York.  I regularly popped into Judge Tindal’s in Chelmsford for a quick lunch of chip butty and Guinness.  I bought and cooked my own salmon and cod fresh from the market in Doncaster and Saffron Walden (one of my favorite weekend drives).  I tucked into fresh pheasant shot on a neighboring farm, and I tried rabbit, quail, and venison (which tastes different from Texas white-tailed in a way I can’t even explain).  I had Scottish beef and heather-infused whisky and fried kippers and fried toast (oh, fried toast).  I even had a vegetarian haggis once in Inveraray, served with neeps and tatties.  It was actually delicious–I mean, I’m remembering it now, more than seven years later.  Britain introduced me to that delicacy of snacks, the Welsh rarebit.  It was there I began to learn about regional varieties of cheese–Caerphilly, Stilton, Blue Wensleydale, Double Gloucester, Red Leicester–and to appreciate the equally stunning diversity of British sausages.  The simple satiation of a perfect plate of bangers and mash is something I still go back to, weeknight after weeknight.  Britain enlightened me to the fact that there are more types of pies than chocolate merengue (although that one’s still my favorite).  In fact, while the sweet dessert pie is virtually unheard of in the UK (I know), the array of meat pies is astounding: cottage pie, shepherd’s pie, Melton Mowbray pie, chicken and mushroom pie, beef and ale pie, steak and kidney pie.  And don’t forget eel pie.

Before I moved to England, I had never eaten lamb.  Often I have opined that it would’ve been better never to try it, because I am a stickler for adorable baby animals and lamb is succulent and singular.  I rarely encounter lamb here in the US that is half as flavorful as that I ate in the UK (despite the fact that both are likely often imported from New Zealand).  Lamb was a revelation.

All this brings us back round to the topic of this post: Full English.  A wittily named café indeed, as a “full English” is slang for a proper breakfast, a.k.a. a “fry up.”  An apt name, too, as it invariably includes: fried or poached eggs, English back bacon (that deserves a whole other post), fried breakfast sausage, fried mushrooms, a fried tomato, and fried toast.  If you’re really hungry, throw some baked beans on the toast.  And if you’re really British, add some black pudding (believe it or not, I never once tried it–apologies to Mr. Bourdain).

I admit I was suspicious when I heard about Full English.  A small café in an out-of-the-way strip mall behind a convenience store in far South Austin?  English food in Texas?  Having survived many, many years of traipsing all around London in search of “real” Tex-Mex only to be disappointed by bowls of Nacho Cheese Doritos and Prego, I was wary of seeking to treat homesickness through bland imitation foods.  But my friend Laura–quite the foodie herself, and very well traveled, too–insisted we try it for Sunday brunch, having enjoyed the place as the venue for her recent baby shower.

Mr. Stella and I both ordered the Full English breakfast plate (a steal at $8.00): one bacon rasher, one poached egg, one piece of fried toast, one breakfast sausage, one tomato, and a couple of roughly chopped mushrooms.  Though it didn’t look like much food at first, I was surprised by how filling the meal was.

I am also happy (no, delighted!) to report that it is also quite authentic.  The fine folks at Full English make their own bangers from scratch, and they are excellent.  The egg was perfectly cooked, just runny enough to swipe up the yolk with the delectable, crisp toast.  The bacon, sourced from a farm in North Carolina, was exactly like that inferior stuff the British prefer (I’m sorry, I think streaky, crunchy, paper-thin, melt-in-your-mouth American style bacon is best–Full English will serve it on request); however, it was also expertly cooked, and packed a lot of flavor.  My friend Mike ordered an extra slice!  I hate tomatoes, but in the Full English breakfast plate, I have met a tomato I love.  The tomato was so fried that it was positively blackened, and tasted like a ripe, rich sun-dried tomato.  I’ll be back just for the tomatoes, making that my add-on in future.  And, of course, I can’t get enough of fried toast.  You can double up on everything for $12.00.  If you’re really hungry, I’d recommend it.

I was sufficiently stuffed to stop there, but I couldn’t help noticing the many other enticing, authentic greasy spoon offerings on the menu.  So I’ll be back for the bangers and mash with onion gravy (at $7.00, that’s three dollars cheaper than my old mainstay, the Dog and Duck Pub), a Cornish pasty (a variety are available for $5.00, including: beef, potato, and onion; spinach and feta; and strong cheddar with caramelized onions), and high tea.

The high tea menu is impressive, including several types of miniature sandwiches (cheddar and chutney, ham and mustard, bacon and tomato, cucumber and cream cheese); scones with strawberry jam and cream; five selections from their in-house cake and biscuits menu; and a pot of tea of coffee.

They also whip up a variety of fresh, homemade sweets: wholegrain shortbread, rock buns, flapjacks (British style–sort of like granola bars), and Millionaire’s Shortbread, a real delight.  This treat is basically a thin layer of shortbread, topped with caramel, topped with milk chocolate.  It has been a hit with everyone I know who’s been lucky enough to try it.  I wouldn’t be upset if Full English expanded their sweets menu.  Many of the items have already found fans at local farmer’s markets, and I think they’re on to a winner here.  As they say on their web site, “First we tested different recipes for our favourite British goodies–those treats we missed over here and could not live without. Then we reworked these recipes with better ingredients like raw sugar and Belgian chocolate, to make them as delicious as they could be.”

They also cater.

I should also mention the decor.  It’s very working-class-meets-Mod, with a vintage twist.  In other words, right up my alley.  Though Full English is hidden away in a strange spot, once inside, the place has a pleasant Austin-y vibe, with distinctive British overtones: there’s the fringed Union Jack hanging by the front door; the words to William Blake’s “And did those feet in ancient time” (a.k.a. “Jerusalem”) are scrawled upon another wall; bottles of HP Sauce decorate the tables; and, at the back, there’s a book and magazine rack with copies of British glossies and cookbooks.  Obviously, I could spend hours at this place.

In fact, I’ll probably do that this very weekend.  Again.

 

 

Full English
2000 Southern Oaks Dr
Austin, TX 78745