The Stray Dog Bar & Grill
J and I realized today that it’s been two years today since we left our jobs in Peoria, IL and made the move to Michigan. It’s kind of hard to forget because we moved three days before her birthday which means Wednesday she’ll celebrate another one.
Earlier this week, my mom called and asked if we wanted to meet in New Buffalo for lunch. Since it was J’s birthday, she could pick wherever she wanted. J turned to me and said just find something, so I did.
In another case of being tempted by a billboard along I-94, I chose The Stray Dog Bar & Grill in downtown New Buffalo on Whittaker Street just a few blocks from Lake Michigan. The restaurant is in an area of new development and lakeside condos. The building sort of blends in to buildings around it even though it’s painted yellow. The condo development directly behind The Stray Dog is painted very loudly.
New Buffalo is kind of a tourist town. There are a lot of people from the Chicago area that have summer or vacation homes in the area and The Stray Dog really plays up its location near the lake. There are two dining rooms downstairs. One of them is the typical bar room with a nice, large bar with multiple TV’s hanging from the ceiling. The other is an all season patio which during the winter months is heated by free-standing lamp heaters. When it’s nice outside, there’s also a sky deck that has a beautiful view of the lake. It’s still too cold for that, so we chose to sit in the heated patio.
The tables and chairs in this area are just a little better than patio furniture. The tables are solid, but the chairs are just a step above the cheap plastic chairs you get at Walmart. These, however, were sturdy and didn’t have arms. You’d actually be hard pressed to notice if you didn’t grab it when you sit down.
We all started with Cokes except for my dad who had a Sprite. The menu is pretty typical bar fare. They have sandwiches, pizzas, and salads. I headed straight for the burger section and found a Green Chile Burger. The fresh burger patty was cooked a little past medium but still plenty juicy. It was topped with green chiles and pepperjack cheese and served on a toasted bun with french fries. The chile’s were a mild chile and they were plentiful underneath a layer of pepperjack. My mind had tricked me into thinking it was going to be hot even though I knew the chile’s weren’t jalapenos. Instead it was more of a sweet taste with a little bit of heat from the cheese. The fries were skin on and cooked perfectly. They were crispy, but not burnt and there was enough on the plate that I didn’t have to worry about leaving hungry.
J ordered the Lakeside Citrus Salad which is mixed greens, mandarin oranges, feta cheese, walnuts, and a citrus vinaigrette. The salad also was supposed to have chicken, but J is not a fan of chicken on her salad. J said she really liked the entree and was a fan of the vinaigrette. She did mention without the chicken, the salad is overpriced. Chicken wasn’t an add on option, it is already included in the price and even though she kept what is probably the most expensive part of the salad off, we were still charged for it. That’s not a complaint because it’s listed on the menu as coming with chicken and there’s no mention of a different price without the chicken. It’s just an observation.
My dad also went with a burger and got the Sunset Burger. His sandwich came topped with Cheddar Cheese, BBQ sauce, caramelized onions on a toasted bun and served with fries. He didn’t say anything during the meal, but he did e-mail me later and said he really liked the restaurant…and that is really not like him. For him to take the time to tell me he enjoyed the restaurant and would like to meet there again sometime says a lot about the place.
My mom ordered the 1/2 slab of which is a special during lunch (noon to 4 PM Michigan time…yes, they right “Michigan time” on the menu). The ribs are baby back and slathered with a thick sweet sauce. She didn’t have much trouble getting the meat off the bone and I think she was surprised at just how tender they were. Her meal also came with fries and she really liked them. The places they eat usually have the crinkle cut or out of the bag restaurant fries, so she really likes when we go to places that have the skin on fries. At one point, she offered some to me, but she kept eating. They were that good and she didn’t end up giving any of them up.
Before leaving I had to make a trip to the restroom and got a little chuckle. Along one of the walls in the men’s room are hundreds of pictures of people’s dogs. I don’t know if it’s a case of people just putting the pictures up on their own or the bar asking for them, but they’ve all got funny messages on them. Nice way to extend the theme.
The bill for the four of us was just under $50. All our meals were right around the $10 mark without drinks. J’s actually came in the highest at over $10 and she was the only one that didn’t get any protein. Yes, my mom’s ribs cost less than J’s salad. The food was downright delicious my parents, who picked up the tab, both said they thought it was a good value.
The Stray Dog is definitely a place worth stopping on a trip to New Buffalo. I bet it’s gorgeous during the summer months and I look forward to a trip to the beach and a beer on the roof sometime this summer.