As the adopted Chihuahua of Miami New Times' food editor, I've had the opportunity to sample dishes from some of the city's top restaurants. The downside, of course, is that most of the steak and chicken I've enjoyed was in the form of boxed leftovers from fancy dinners.
Truth be told, until recently, most restaurants offered only a perfunctory doggie dining experience. Pups were served maybe a few pieces of chicken and a bowl of water. That's all well and good, but we pooches need more.
Miami humans spend hundreds of dollars on grooming appointments and tote us around in Louis Vuitton carriers. Many of us have our own social media accounts (slide into my Instagram at @four_miami_bitches). For years, hotels have offered dog-friendly amenities such as special beds and room service, and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival hosts the annual Yappy Hour. Our barks deserve to be heard.
Miami restaurants are now jumping on the canine consumer bandwagon with dog-friendly patios, social happy hours, and dishes designed for dogs.
Lobster Bar Sea Grille has unleashed Pooches on the Patio, a new experience that caters to the upscale hound. Executive chef Arturo Paz put a lot of effort into creating a menu that meets the dietary needs of dogs while enticing them through delicious dishes. "We did a substantial amount of research on the best proteins for dogs to eat and the best veggies to complement the proteins. We also looked at what ingredients would have the most benefits for dogs. For example, the celery helps freshen breath, and carrots are a good source of carbohydrates."
Chef Paz invited me and a group of local doggie influencers and chow hounds to Pooches on the Patio for Sunday brunch.
The afternoon began, as a proper meal should, with a welcome cocktail. I opted for the SoFi Dog, a refreshing bowl of filtered water with cooling cucumber slices. There's also the Dirty Dog Martini, a hearty blend of filtered water and veal jus. These "muttinis" are complimentary with any dog dinner.
Entrée choices at Lobster Bar Sea Grille are plentiful and include savory selections such as beef short-rib stew with carrots, celery, and potatoes (14); a chicken chop chop with broccoli and sweet potatoes ($9); and beef meatballs with seasonal vegetables and steamed rice ($11). If your human is vegan, they might offer you the vegetable plate with steamed rice ($8). Instead, opt for the six-ounce filet mignon with Brussels sprouts, Yukon gold mash, and veal jus ($18). After all, unlike cats, who have nine lives, dogs only live once.
I chose the chicken, which arrived in a silver dish brimming with juicy bits of white breast meat. All ingredients are human-grade and tested by Chef Paz himself. "I've tasted all of the dishes on the Pooches menu," he says. "They were amazing."
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The sole difference between the canine and human items here, the chef explains, is the seasoning. "We pull back on the salt and pepper and seasoning for the dogs, but it's made the same way as if we're cooking for human guests. And of course we avoid any ingredients that might be toxic to dogs.”
Tthere are plenty of human food and drink options to keep bipeds happy. My mom seemed pleased with her lobster Benedict, which uses the meat from an entire Maine lobster. It's available as part of the restaurant's Miami Spice brunch menu ($23), which includes an appetizer and dessert along with the Benedict — a great value for seafood lovers.
All in all, Lobster Bar Sea Grille has created a menu that's perfect for the discerning dog and her human companion with generous portions for the not-so-basic bitch. It's a great way to celebrate anything from birthdays to adoption anniversaries to an afternoon play date. Tell your human to put it on your doggie to-do list.
Lobster Bar Sea Grille. 404 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-377-2675; buckheadrestaurants.com. The Pooches on the Patio menu is available for dinner daily beginning at 5:30 and Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.