As I mentioned in my last post, I had been feeling a little down earlier this week – overwhelmed and definitely not in the holiday spirit. So, in hopes of brightening my mood and forcing myself to forget about the holidays for a few minutes, I made plans for dinner with an old friend — Danielle from Namaste or Should I Go.
Danielle moved to Cleveland a few months back to help open up Ohio’s first Bikram Yoga Studio (which you can learn more about by reading her guest post). Life had gotten away from both of us so it had been a while since we had hung out, and I knew her always-effervescent personality would help light up my week.
I also knew just where we could go – my favorite place to bring guests and people new to Cleveland: Happy Dog!
Besides just wanting to show off one of my favorite Cleveland spots, I had another reason to stop by Happy Dog as they recently refreshed their toppings menu and I wanted to try out some of the new flavors.
Unfortunately, I almost didn’t make it. Due to some car issues, girls’ night out became girls’+Scott night out. But, in a continuing attempt to look on the bright side of things this week, that did mean I got treated to dinner thanks to the Happy Dog gift card Scott got for Christmas.
So enough about me – onto the new toppings!
To kick off the Twelve Days of Christmas Happy Dog announced 10 new toppings: Jamaican jerk mustard, wasabi aioli, everything bagel cream cheese, Buffalo wing hot sauce, cucumber dill yogurt tzatziki, Guinness sauerkraut, caramel applesauce, French’s Original fried onions, sloppy joes, and pepper jack cheese. Additionally, 2 oldie-but-goodies are getting an update as Happy Dog is going to start making the chunky peanut butter in house and using a new cheddar cheese.
Of course, with the new menu some flavors had to go away. R.I.P. raspberry crunch mustard, saffron aoili, creole remoulade, killer steak sauce, Polish cwikla, vodka sauerkraut, Spaghetti-O’s, bok choy stir fry, Fritos, and Gouda.
Here’s the full menu with all of the updates:
I’m always a little nervous when Happy Dog is about to announce a new menu because I don’t want to lose my favorites (Scott’s still mourning the loss of putting potato chips on his bacon-egg-and-cheese hot dog). And this time, two of my favorites – the bok choy stir fry and Gouda – had to hit the road.
However, there are so many amazing toppings on the Happy Dog menu that I always know I can find an alternative, and worst case scenario, I can hold out hope that a lost topping will make a triumphant return like the cucumber dill yogurt tzatziki did.
(Now, if it was the Marcella’s grape jelly and chile sauce, that would be a completely different story…I don’t want that to ever go away because it’s the perfect sauce to dip their fries in.)
Although I do get a bit apprehensive about losing toppings, I love trying the new ones. I have a bad habit of getting stuck in my ways so experimenting with new options is always refreshing.
This week, I wanted a lighter taste to my hot dog, so I tried the cucumber dill yogurt tzatziki, sliced roma tomatoes, greek feta cheese and (because I can’t be 100% healthy) French’s Original fried onions. Although the structural integrity of my hot dog was extremely compromised by the tomatoes (that’s what the fork and knife are for), this was a winning combination.
It was a smooth, fresh flavor that I really enjoyed. And depending on the mood I’m in the next time I’m there, I may have to try those toppings on the Vegan Sausage. I think the spice in the sausage will add a nice zesty balance to the mix.
The toppings aren’t the only changes going on at Happy Dog right now. Over the last several weeks, they’ve been busy opening up their downstairs space, aptly named Underdog.
Sporting pinball machines, 80s video games, a shuffleboard table and a projection TV, it’s the perfect place to escape if you need a break from the music in the upstairs bar.
In a continuing effort to expand their wide range of events (which already features things like Classical Revolution, DJ Kishka’s Polka Happy Hour, the Ohio City Opry and countless bands), they’re planning to feature some writers events on the second Tuesday of the month, pinball and shuffleboard leagues for Wednesdays, and local filmmaker and video artist events in the Underdog space.
And! On Thursday nights only in Underdog, if you’re one of the first 24 to order it, you can try one of their burgers. I love my Happy Dog hot dogs, but I may need to try one of these out.
I confirmed with Sean W. at Happy Dog that Underdog is now open Tuesday – Sunday, 4pm-close.
If you’re making holiday plans, note that Happy Dog will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for a well-deserved break, and on New Year’s Eve they’re closing early (so the Underdog space won’t be open). However, on New Year’s Day, Biscuits N’ Gravy Brunch is back! I’m thinking this will be how I kick off 2012.
Honestly, Happy Dog never seems to fail me. From the good (and cheap!) food, to the drinks to the amazing service, they make it easy to love coming back. Needless to say, hanging out, trying a new flavor combination and catching up with Danielle’s adventures in bikram was the break I needed to reset and cheerfully get through the rest of this week.
This is my last post til next week so if I don’t see you off-blog before then, enjoy your Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus or however you decide to spend your weekend. I know I now will!