Belfast’s first dog menu put to the test by our four-legged reporter

Dougal the Dog poses with his meal at Dirty Onion, Belfast
Dougal the Dog poses with his meal at Dirty Onion, Belfast

For canine-loving folk, you simply cannot beat a great dog-friendly bar and restaurant.

And whilst Northern Ireland is certainly making great headway in that area, with the likes of hotel, bar and restaurant Salty Dog in Bangor leading the way, if truth be told, what constitues as ‘dog-friendly’ usually means we are left shivering with our dogs in the inclement Norn Iron weather in rain-soaked, empty beer gardens, whilst everyone else soaks up the cosy atmosphere indoors.

General Manager at The Dirty Onion, Tim Herron and Claire McNally marketing manager at Naturo Pet Foods launch a brand-new menu at The Dirty Onion for its furry, four legged customers created in partnership with local pet food brand, Naturo

General Manager at The Dirty Onion, Tim Herron and Claire McNally marketing manager at Naturo Pet Foods launch a brand-new menu at The Dirty Onion for its furry, four legged customers created in partnership with local pet food brand, Naturo

So when popular Cathedral Quarter bar, The Dirty Onion announced they were going fully dog-friendly, one could be forgiven for assuming the same would happen here - particularly due to their above par beer garden with shelter.

But Dirty Onion have taken the notion of ‘dog-friendly’ and truly ran away on all four paws with it, so to speak.

For not only do they play host as the first and final destinations of the terrific Dog Friendly Tours; led by Ulster woman Jo Crossley who embarks with tour goers and their canine companions upon a local food and drink tour of the Cathedral Quarter (full review at newsletter.co.uk/whats-on/eating-out); but they also host regular Pooch Social events. The hugely popular event sees dog lovers from across the Province come together to enjoy live music, a BBQ, and a dog-themed market with food and accessories, all in aid of a worthy cause, namely the fantastic and well-deserving Lucy’s Trust Dog Charity.

Not only that, but they have also recently launched Belfast’s first dog menu.

Molly helps launch a brand-new menu at The Dirty Onion for its furry, four legged customers created in partnership with local pet food brand, Naturo

Molly helps launch a brand-new menu at The Dirty Onion for its furry, four legged customers created in partnership with local pet food brand, Naturo

My husband and I recently enjoyed a tasty lunch in the downstairs bar from the restaurant above, Yardbird, accompanied by our normally easily-excitable, eager two-year old golden Working Cocker Spaniel, Dougal. I say ‘normally’ because for some reason, the atmosphere of the peat-infused bar with its softly-burning fire and friendly staff of the dimly-lit Dirty Onion instantly chills him out.

So whilst we happily purused the (human) menu, he slept at our feet, until one of the lovely managers, Tina, came along and made his day with a bowl of his favourite food.

Chosen from an excellent menu of healthy food and treats for ‘our doggos’, The Dirty Onion has hit the nail on the head. Dog truly is a man’s best friend, and so the current trend for health-conscious food with no nasty preservatives certainly shows no sign of abating.

With this in mind, they have teamed up with a local brand dog lovers from here may recognise, Naturo Pet Foods.

With dishes created using high-quality, fresh, natural ingredients, made in Northern Ireland, the range of healthy dog foods are a delectable array of doggy favourites including: chicken and rice, salmon and potato, lamb or turkey, served alongside rice and vegetables. No meal out would be complete without dessert, so dogs can enjoy a liver brownie or Frozzys, a locally made frozen yogurt packed with essential vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Based in County Armagh, Mackle Pet Foods, who own Naturo, was established over 40 years ago by the Mackle family, whose aim is to create pure and natural pet food from the family farm. They work closely with leading nutritionists to ensure their products meet the specific nutritional needs of pets; targeting their immune and digestive systems, as well as the quality of their skin and coat.

Dougal, who eats this food at home, loved accompanying his humans for a meal out for once. Made all the more enjoyable for him when Tina reappeared laden with Snuffle Dog Beer (chicken flavour, with no alcohol or hops) and a strawberry Frozzy - which he proceeded to enthusiastically carry home and make a mess in the living room when he enthusiastically tried to empty out every last drop.

Top tip - if wanting to enjoy a tipple with your meal, why not get the bus? Translink allow dogs who are kept on a leash and under a seat.

See online for full terms and conditions.