Calgary patios serve bubbly and liver treats to 'fancy' dog clientele
'Dog lover first and wine lover second,' restaurant owner Phoebe Fung says
Snacky dogs now can lap up bubbly with a three-course tasting menu as their owners chat and drink wine.
The Vin Room, a Calgary wine bar, allows dogs on its patio, and to keep them well-watered this summer, it's offering "pawsecco" and treats like liver-and-pumpkin amuse-bouche.
"I know, it seems kind of silly, doesn't it?" restaurant owner Phoebe Fung told the Calgary Eyeopener. "But I'm a dog lover first and wine lover second."
She got the idea last summer when she brought her dog named Dom onto the patio. She found him bored and sad because he couldn't have any human food snacks.
"I got to keep him occupied while I'm enjoying my wine, so I thought why not come up with a three-course menu that's just for dogs."
The menu, offered to all patio clients with pets, starts with an amuse-bouche made of beef liver, eggs, flax seed, rye flour and pumpkin, and ends with a Popsicle of free range chicken, carrots, sweet potato, ginger and apple cider vinegar.
Listen to the Calgary Eyeopener's Lisa Robinson at a treat taste test:
The house-made pawsecco, a dog-friendly, non-alcoholic take on prosecco, is in fact herbal-infused water. Varieties range from blueberry and lavender to poultry, turkey and turmeric.
"We actually count on the owners to make sure the menu is safe for their dogs," Fung said. "But you know, the beautiful thing about it is we haven't had any dog refuse our treats so far."
Fung worked with Bon A-Pet-Treat! bakery to develop the menu, and it's all "human-grade," she said.
Annie Graham brought her one-year-old dog Sprinkles, who enjoyed the surprise treats.
Graham herself had a bite and found they weren't that bad.
"Well, when they say it's human-grade food, you want to know what your dog is eating," she said with a laugh. "I think you could use a little more salt when you're serving me mine."
Graham says she doesn't have children, and so her dog is where she finds a "giving, nurturing relationship with something small and cute." It's nice, she said, to know he's having a good time while she chats with friends.
"It's definitely a level up in the dog world but I think Sprinkles is a fancy boy, and he deserves the best — and we do love our animals," Graham said. "I like that I can come here and spoil him."
Eleven patios in Calgary, including two of the three Vin Room locations, have permits to allow dogs. Other permits are pending, Alberta Health Services said.
The healthy authority must approve food establishments to allow live animals, due to food safety regulations.
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With files from Lisa Robinson, Monty Kruger, Tricia Lo and the Calgary Eyeopener.