Owned by chef Bill Haines and his wife, Leigh, Two Black Dogs Country Pub opened in the Old Tompson House in Standish in June, the same building as the Standish Historical Society. It’s the third incarnation of the restaurant, named after the family pets, originally having opened in New Hampshire and then later moving to Fryeburg.
As the name suggests, the atmosphere is that of an English-style pub, with several small dining rooms and an upstairs bar area featuring folksy signs. There’s a pretty good beer list and several British food specialties, although many of the British food items cost more than the rest of the menu.
My friend and I waited for quite some time after we arrived before anybody welcomed us; a couple in front of us gave up and left. When we went upstairs to the bar area, the bartender, who was engrossed in a game on TV, didn’t even acknowledge us, despite the fact that we sat at the actual bar counter. The bar counter was gorgeous, the barstools had backs and were comfortable, and there were purse hooks under the bar – all pluses. On a less positive note, the noise from the TV game clashed with the music that was playing, making it difficult to focus on either.
There weren’t any prices on the menus for beer or wine, and we couldn’t find a cocktail menu. Turns out, there isn’t one. British pubs don’t typically have cocktail menus, so that’s perfectly fine, but it was odd having to ask the price of a drink before ordering it. The bartender was slightly surly and seemed irritated when we asked him where the Chardonnay was from and which menu items were the most popular.
My drinking companion ordered a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, which had been open far too long; I ordered a $6 glass of the mystery-origin Chardonnay, which could have benefited from more refrigeration.
Things perked up, though, when our $7.95 poutine appetizer arrived. The portion was generous, the gravy was delicious, and the fries were still crispy – a real winner. Unfortunately, our main courses arrived when we were still only partway through our poutine. My friend had the $10.95 pastrami Reuben with fantastic house-made Thousand Island dressing and enjoyed it, but if you’re a big sauerkraut fan, ask for a little extra, as it didn’t come with much. I ordered the $8.95 burger (adding Havarti for $1). The taste was good, but there was very little cheese, and the bun was so disproportionately large that I eventually gave up and ate just the patty. We both loved the house-made crinkle-cut potato chips.
If I were to go back, it would be for the restaurant portion, not the bar. If the service doesn’t improve considerably, I doubt the highlights on the food menu will be enough to keep people coming back regularly.
WHERE: 1 Ossipee Trail East, Standish
PHONE: (207) 256-3036
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
AMENITIES: Parking lot
BOTTOM LINE: Charming venue with great potential, but not yet where it needs to be in terms of customer service.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: No