The BD Burger weighs in at a hefty one-half pound. The crispy French fries are plentiful and makes this a lunch for those with big appetites. Photo by Ralph Stewart
The dog in winter
In the winter we seek out comfortable spots to meet with friends, and we are always on the look out for good food. Find both at the Black Dog Café on State Road in Vineyard Haven. The café has two different faces. In the summer, the bakery case and tables share the space with a general store. Sometime after Labor Day, the café clears out the canine noir covered T-shirts, coffee mugs, and windbreakers and moves in a sofa, comfy upholstered chairs, and fires up the wood-burning stove. Between September and May the café is a nice place for a leisurely lunch or coffee and your favorite Black Dog goodie.
On three recent visits, I was impressed with the service. You order at the counter and find a seat. Lunch is delivered to your table, and the staff knows practically every customer's name.
I had intended to have dessert after lunch, but each time the sandwich and fries left no room for the chocolate bombe in the bakery case that caught my eye. The menu is pretty straightforward, but the cute names such as "Chappy" and "Pilgrim" remind us summer tourists are coming.
If possible, save room for dessert. Some Black Dog favorites include (clockwise from top) a chocolate fudge dessert so dark it makes the dog look pale, carrot cake with thick cream cheese frosting, a peanut butter and chocolate delight, and an über cupcake.
Although my lunch partner felt the chicken salad could have been chunkier and benefited from a lighter hand with the mayo, the cranberries and walnuts gave it a nice flavor. The whole grain bread was toasted perfectly. Instead of fries, my partner opted for the substitute salad, called a "sub salad," a term which we needed clarified before ordering.
I can't resist fresh mozzarella and pesto so I tried the "Chappy" which came on a baguette. Delicious. The French fries, which I pretended I got by accident, forgetting to order the sub salad, were thin and crispy, and freshly made. On each subsequent visit I "forgot" to substitute a salad for the fries, and each time they were just as good. Next time I'll just give up the pretense and go with the fries.
On another day, my lunch partner enjoyed the turkey and stuffing sandwich. She said, "Everyone has their own version of this sandwich. This one is very good." She was happy she could bite into this one without most of it ending up in her lap and also that she told them to hold the onion. My grilled cheese and bacon was golden brown and not at all greasy. The fries went great with it.
After lunch we moved from our table by the window to the inviting chairs near the recently stoked stove. We ordered tea and decided to share a ginger cookie, even though neither of us was hungry.
Before we knew it, 30 minutes had passed. We had spent the last half hour relaxing and sipping tea, and this was on a weekday. There is something about a fire and comfortable chairs that make you forget you have to get back to work.
The Black Dog Café offers a limited breakfast menu centered around a sandwich served your way. Lunch is served until 3 pm when the kitchen closes, but the front bakery counter remains open until 6 pm. Soup is available until it sells out.
You can get lunch at many different places, but for a bit of relaxation with a side of fries, try the Black Dog Café. If you've never been there, you can't miss it. Just head up-Island on State Road and look for the train car. Don't forget to eat dessert first.
The Black Dog Café, 509 State Road, Vineyard Haven. Hours: 7 am to 6 pm, daily. For more information, call 508-696-8190, or visit www.theblackdog.com.