Posted For: sideof Sour Cream
On September 25, a new luxury cafe named Dogue opened in San Francisco. But its bespoke food items are exclusively for dogs.
As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, Dogue serves a range of delicacies out of its “Pawtisserie” during the week, including doguccinos, pastries, and other tailored items.
On Sundays, the restaurant transforms into the “Bone Appétit Cafe,” where walk-in guests can enjoy a specialized, seasonal three-course meal for the low price of $75. There, servers pour chicken-mushroom soup table side, and hungry canine guests lap up dishes like doggy petit gâteau — a rose-shaped cake filled with wild venison heart.
If all of this seems barking mad, head chef and mastermind behind Dogue, Rahmi Massarweh, makes a compelling argument for giving our furry friends special treatment.
“For me and my wife, there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for our family, for our dogs,” he said. “They give us so much. The most I can do is make them a meal that looks good.”
As Massarweh detailed on Dogue’s website, he spent his youth training under professionals he described as “artists, masters of the culinary world,” learning to make classical French cuisine.
When Massarweh and his wife Alejandra adopted their first dog, a 10-week-old English Mastiff named Grizzly, they wanted him “to be the happiest dog, with the healthiest food, and the best life [they] could give him.”
The couple began feeding Grizzly food that his breeder recommended, then food that was recommended by pet stores. Grizzly, however, never seemed to enjoy any of it.
“After one week it was obvious he didn’t like his food and it dawned on us,” Massarweh wrote. “We wouldn’t enjoy eating the same dry, crunchy, bagged or canned food every single day either.”
Massarweh then used his years of culinary expertise to craft recipes that Grizzly — and eventually, the couple’s three other dogs — would actually enjoy. More importantly, he wanted to make meals that were healthy and natural.
“It’s a simple philosophy,” he said. “Feed fresh, whole food that is in season and as close to its natural source as possible.”
The chef decided to extend this philosophy to clients in 2015, when he and Alejandra first got into the canine hospitality business. After years of working as a chef, Massarweh became burned out by the restaurant industry, and the couple decided to open a doggie daycare center, where Massarweh also prepared fresh-cooked meals and take-home doggie bags for his guests.
This year, that business evolved. They opened Dogue — which translates in French to “mastiff,” an homage to Massarweh’s French roots and the couple’s first dog, Grizzly — as a dog cafe offering expertly crafted, healthy dog treats.
“What we do doesn’t generally exist,” Massarweh told The Los Angeles Times. “My approach is as if it were a human restaurant. It’s as if you have come into my restaurant, and the star guest is your dog.”
Massarweh also works with his dogs’ veterinarians to ensure the meals he crafts are properly balanced nutritionally and only include dog-safe ingredients.
San Francisco, it turns out, was the perfect place to set up a dog-focused restaurant, as local station KQED reported that dogs in the Bay Area outnumber children by at least 5,000.
The food at Dogue isn’t just for pets with fabulously wealthy owners, either. Many of the restaurant’s first customers were actually dogs with allergies that heavily limited their diets.
Take Nikko, for example, a 4.5-year-old Shiba Inu who has a sensitive stomach and was put on a doctor-ordered low-fat diet.
Nikko’s owner, Sasa Dang, first heard about Dogue through Instagram and decided to treat Nikko to one of the restaurant’s specialty meals. Nikko was seated at a white marble table and served a plate of steak tartare and an after-dinner doguccino. He licked the plate clean.
“He processed it very well, as measured by his poop,” Dang said.
Reaction to Dogue on social media has been decidedly mixed, with some suggesting the whole enterprise belongs in “Rome, 600 C.E.” and another saying it “signals the collapse.”
Another dog owner and customer, however, named Jason Villacampa, defended the restaurant’s mission. After learning about Dogue on his Instagram feed, he took his two corgis, Captain and Tony, to the restaurant’s grand opening.
“Food is a love language, and I think it’s another way to kind of express and share love with your dog,” Villacampa said. “It’s a way to take care of them and share healthy but fun food as well.”
“Dogue is our mission to change the lives of as many dogs as we can,” Massarweh wrote. “Feeding fresh, seasonal, quality whole food one meal at a time.”