White House, Rye, East Sussex
Lazy is a great word at breakfast. And “build your own breakfast” is one of the greatest phrases ever scrawled on a menu. When that menu is available all day, and the ingredients are as fresh as this, it’s hard not to leave (eventually) with a satisfied smile. The bakery is especially good. Dogs, and any other pets, are made very welcome. It’s the perfect start to a day, however late and lazy that is.
The Living Space Watergate Bay Hotel, Watergate Bay, Cornwall
Overlooking one of the country’s finest beaches this relaxed and informal dining room/lounge is a delight. The lunch menu consists of huge sharing plates, burgers, salads and legendary sandwiches – generous heaps of comfort food in a comfortable room with enough space for even larger dogs.
Bellanger, Islington Green, London
Among several ways in which “the Continentals” (my grandparents’ term) are more advanced than us is in attitudes to pets in restaurants. Rock up to a restaurant in France with a dog and often no one blinks at the prospect of your pooch joining you for dinner. Here, we’re less open to the idea. In most cases, it’s a straight no.
Even the handful of restaurants that claim to be dog-friendly often qualify this with a time (7am to 4pm at quirky London joint Sketch) or place (outside tables only), while others limit it by size (small pooches only at charming Soho eatery Andrew Edmunds).
The list of restaurants that welcome all dogs at all times, and which aren’t just gussied up pubs, is short. So hats off to Chris Corbin and Jeremy King (The Wolseley, The Delaunay), whose recent opening Bellanger doesn’t restrict hounds to its pleasant outdoor seating area. As any dog-owning food lover will attest, there are some pretty clear markers of where an establishment lies in The Hierarchy of Dog Friendliness.
The first is the amount of fuss your companion gets; next is an offer of water; then there’s the occasional dog biscuit; and finally a full-blown canine menu and drinks list. Personally, I prefer restaurants where humans are put first, with dogs a close second.
This is exactly the balance Bellanger gets right. There’s water and bespoke dog biscuits, plus plenty of fuss from waiting staff, but the focus is on the human guests at this classic Corbin and King version of a grand European café. Something else “the Continentals” do right: I suspect the delicious soupe à la bierre wouldn’t be as popular if they called it beer soup. One less French twist is the vegetarian menu, although asking for it can cause a very Gallic raised eyebrow or barely supressed sneer from the otherwise delightful staff. If there is little on offer that shocks or surprises, there is plenty to delight.
A bavette steak, a beautiful piece of lemon sole, a signature hamburger with Gruyère and some deliciously simple tartes flambées, then on to a coupe amandine and a memorable dish of butterroasted apples with Calvados, it’s all so delicious there are no leftovers. Bad news for the hound.