The Hot Dog Café in Montreal, Quebec
Dear Reader, I am going to spoil you this week with two posts! I know – try not to get too excited!
First because we are celebrating being included in Canada’s Top 100 Travel bloggers ( I KNOW RIGHT!??!!) and also because I just can’t keep quiet about this.
The fact that it is so close to home makes me even happier. As in almost chasing my tail happy!
Two weeks ago, the Montecristo Travels trio drove to Montreal for a short visit before heading off to Quebec City the next morning. We were staying with our dearest friend Nadine and in addition we were meeting, at long last, the dynamic duo behind Vienna Canine Couture.
All of this at the brand new, first in Canada, dog friendly restaurant!
YES! You read me right! Canada at long last has a canine friendly restaurant. It’s a big country, and there is only one so far, but it’s a start! The reason this is so important is that by law, in Canada you can’t legally have dogs in any establishment that serves food. This even includes patios. From what I understand from some questions I asked staff and some regulars, the Hot Dog Café spent two years fighting the system, bending over backwards to create an environment that the health folks would have to accept and give them a license to serve food.
And let me tell you, the Health inspectors did not make life easy for anyone. Things were being picked on down to the millimetre. But complied they did and so … They won the battle. And we are SO SO SO happy they toughed it out. Because digging in their heels, and grinning and bearing it for so long has really paid off. The place is simply put – amazing.
Canada is known for its cold and long winters. So I was happy to see that the place features a lovely indoor dog park complete with fountain! There I saw that people could drop off their high energy canines and under a dog handler’s supervision they could play and let loose while the human caretaker could go do what they needed to do or sit down at the Café and have a drink. Oh and did I mention the place is fully licensed? Make that a Spanish Coffee please! Prices for the indoor dog park range from $4.50 for an hour for the tiny ones like me to $6.00 an hour for the Big “boys and girls”. Some people are hands off like that and it’s nice to see that a solution was provided.
For those that like us prefer to remain together; the Café was designed for humans and canines to eat together and enjoy each other’s company (although at this time there is no canine menu). For the bigger dogs space has been left at every table and booth to accommodate them, and thoughtfully a wooden platform is provided for those dogs that don’t like cold floors. A hitch for the leash is also provided to make sure no one lunges out of control after a dog or trips a waiter. There are also blankets provided should canines need something a little softer to snuggle on or … if the canine prefers to be on the seats with their human… the blanket is there to protect the upholstery.
And that’s what I did! I had my blanket and I snuggled up against Mom and hung out quietly while we met with Colin and Mario from Vienna Canine Couture and their two lovely dogs Vienna and Mia. What fun we all had! Nadine who doesn’t even have a dog of her own, had a blast as well meeting a really cute Chihuahua puppy named Thunder that, I believe she would have taken home had she been allowed to!
Due to a malfunction with the machine that sends the orders to the kitchen, the food took a long time to arrive, but once it did we all dug in and it was very good. The Hot Dog Café has a nice menu that includes pizzas, fancy pants hot dogs, salad’s, pasta dishes and so on. There is a wine and cocktail menu as well as a very nice dessert menu! There is certainly something there for everyone to enjoy.
As I looked around I also noticed happy customers leaving the grooming salon. Some owners like to stay at the Café while their canine gets groomed and have a coffee and dessert. But you can drop off your pet as well. Some of the cuts were really “to breed standard” but others were having a little more fun. Personally, I really loved the poodle with the faux-hawk!
We also saw a happy reunion for one dog and his biped. He had been at the Dog Hotel for a few days you see… Oh yes, they have that service too!
It was lovely to be in a Café, seeing people munching and reading with their canine happily and contently lounging on or by their side. Others, you could tell had decided this was more fun than the pub and this was now where they went for their after work drinks and tapas! And yes, I will admit that the little dogs were a little noisier but nothing annoying. In fact considering how many dogs were there it was surprisingly quiet. I think the humans made more noise than we canines did!
The décor is great. Staying away from the annoyingly over popular rustic British Pub look, the Hot Dog Cafe owners have chosen a more modern style. Lots of overly large black and white photos of wonderful dogs adorn the walls. Glossy black and slate tiles, silver accents and damask wallpaper all make for a fashionable space. Most impressive are the large glass doors that separate the kitchen area from the dining area. The patio is also nicely pulled together with a combination of lounge like chairs and dining areas.
We loved it.
Modern, fun and 100% focused on canines and living life WITH them; the Hot Dog Café delivers a wonderful atmosphere where dog lovers can congregate. The place was absolutely spotless I might add. After every guest leaves each booth is completely washed down from top to bottom. Even under the table! And a young person does nothing else other than mop and clean the entire space in a systematic rotation around the premises. There is even a little area with bar stools and iPads for a little internet surfing if you so desire and a mirror with fluorescent markers for kids to draw upon.
It’s a well thought out floor plan.
There is some grass outside near the parking lot and an artificial turf bathroom as well. Poop bags are available as well as a garbage can. Best of all there are three bathrooms inside the Café proper. One with a Man on the door, one with a Woman on the door and one … with a Canine on the door! Yes the dogs have an indoor potty, fully equipped with shower head to rinse any mess, poop bags, disposal area, and artificial turf over a drainage system.
The place does not smell of dog at all. That is how clean it is.
So although we found the name a little un-inspired, and the location in an industrial park like district unfortunate; every other aspect of the Hot Dog Café is absolutely amazing. So much so that the bipeds really really really want one to open in Ottawa or Gatineau so we can become frequent members! So Dear Reader, you can rest assured that if we ever go to or through Montreal we will stop in. In fact you can count on it.
As for meeting Mario and Colin from Vienna Canine Couture you ask? It was an amazing honour to share a meal with them in this wonderful place. We can’t thank them enough for letting us know about the Hot Dog Café and for suggesting we meet there as we did our fly by visit of Montreal.
These two men are absolutely lovely. Kind and generous with a wicked sense of humour we found conversation with them easy and thoroughly enjoyable. We got to see Vienna, the inspiration behind the brand and her little sister Mia. Both girls were in dresses of their “house” in rich, deep jewel tones; one in a fantastic orange and the other in a rich royal purple. They sparkled with crystals and looked very fancy, but to watch the two jump, prance and walk about with ease you could see that more importantly the dresses were incredibly comfortable. I wore my logo harness because I know for a fact it was a really huge challenge for Colin and Mario to make it in my tiny size, and I wanted them to see me in it – In ahmmm… “person”.
And that is what was fantastic about the Hot Dog Café. Here we were having a great meal, sharing some laughs and all this on neutral ground where folks that have chatted for two years on FB can meet without worrying about the weather (if meeting in a park for example) or being too intimate (if meeting at home) … this place allowed us all to get together with our friends at long last in a wonderful canine friendly and inspired setting.
Indoor dog park, groomer, coffee shop, bar and restaurant all rolled up into one. What is not to love? Does your town have such a place? Share with us if it does! If it becomes a franchise would you love one in your town?