City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Dogs

Average Rating:
Restaurant profile
Edinburgh Area: 
New Town, Edinburgh
Serving times: 
Open daily
(0131) 220 1208
Restaurant Established: 

David Ramsden's original no frills restaurant, named after his canine friends, serving classic, Scottish and English fare.

The Reviews


Dinner At The Dogs With My Aunt

Reviewed by Euan Andrews

Friday, December 9, 2011 - 9:32am

A blustery winters night outside, but here inside The Dogs all is warmth and busy chatter. The original outpost of David Ramsden’s mini-empire, named in honour of his faithful hounds, still retains a loyal following and enviable reputation, despite the distractions offered by the fishy delights of Sea Dogs, the groovy Underdogs cocktail bar and (now oddly Americanised) Amore Dogs.

Being in The Dogs on a busy night feels somewhat akin to an evening at a private supper club. Tables are jammed up against each other, the lighting is dim and there is a great feeling of noisy bonhomie. Images of Ramsden’s canine pals are everywhere, most obviously in the somewhat disconcertingly huge photo portrait of a mutt staring forlornly out at us from above the bar.

It’s the perfect place to catch up and have dinner with my favourite Aunt. The Dogs specialises in great seasonal British food at pretty much bargain prices. The staff are all bright young things and quite effusive in their service. Starters all hover just below the £5 area and are basic but comforting affairs, such as a butternut squash risotto made with barley or a duck and black pudding pancake. Auntie decides to save herself for later, but I am quite happy to begin with Welsh rarebit on toast with mushrooms and rocket. It’s a basic but ample and pretty much perfect portion which feels perfect for a cold evening.

Mains are all up around the £10 mark and are all ideal for the time of year. Pork belly sits snugly alongside other delectable offerings such as smoked hake in oats or stargazy pie. However, Auntie goes for the offal option of devilled liver with onions, bacon and mushrooms on toast. Devilled doesn’t begin to describe it, satanic would be nearer the mark such is the level of heat and spice used in the cooking, but it certainly warms you up and is a hearty supper dish.

Though tempted by the stargazy pie, I decide the lure of pig cheek and cider stew with a mustard mash is too great. The cheeks could be carved with a delicate spoon, and while the mash and veg of the stew are a bit on the basic side, this doesn’t feel too important. This is very much food of the “good, honest grub” variety.

Desserts are also comfort food priced generally below a fiver. My lemon posset with a ginger oat biscuit makes for a pleasing, if slight, final plate, but Auntie’s trifle with mulled wine jelly, orange custard and whipped cream comes all-conquering towards the table in triumph, presented in a tall glass like a winter knickerbocker glory.

We’ve been in The Dogs for two hours before we take our leave and the tables around us have all changed over at least once, yet the place is just as full and buzzing as it was on our arrival. That’s because The Dogs have hit upon a basic, yet for so many restaurants elusive, recipe for success: good food, cooked well, simply presented in a friendly atmosphere. It’s not rocket science, but it works.