Restaurant Review: The Barking Dog.

It’s been a while since I’ve visited downtown Amesbury and I forgot how absolutely adorable it is! The Powow River runs through the center of this quaint Massachusetts town and is home to many great restaurants, cafes, shops and ice cream parlors. When I asked a friend of mine who resides in Amesbury to recommend a restaurant, she said her family loves The Barking Dog for its casual atmosphere and great location. Ok, enough said, we’re in.

The Vibe
It’s lunchtime and the place is full of activity! The window tables and bar seats are filled with those on their lunch break, but we’re easily seated in the adjacent dining room which is already busy with families and other large parties getting ready a relaxing meal. Our friendly waitress brings us over menus and plops down activity coloring mats, a large cup of crayons and two packages of Wiki Sticks for the kids (score!). My children spy another mini-diner using a booster seat, and although my kids haven’t requested a booster in over a year, they suddenly feel it’s absolutely necessary to have one. Even though the place is bustling, we’re immediately accommodated and now everyone is sitting pretty.

On The Menu
The lunch menu is quite extensive offering all kinds of salads ($5-$12), sandwiches and lunch entrees ($8-12). Dinner entrees run from $13-$22, but they also offer a Pub Menu in the evening which consists of sandwiches, fish and chips, lasagna and the like for around $9-$12. The kid’s menu (affectionately and cleverly called “Puppy Chow”) offers the usual favorites (mac-n-cheese, chicken fingers, pizza) and some twists like Corn Dogs, cheese tortellini and meatloaf. All children’s meals are $5.50 and come with a beverage in a special plastic kids cup (and cover, yesss).

My kids settle on the mac-n-cheese and an order of fish and chips, while the adults decide on a delicious sounding Grilled Tuna Salad (with eggs, green beans, olives, tomatoes in a creamy dill drizzle) and the French Dip sandwich. Like I said, the place is bustling, but that doesn’t detract from the awesome service and speedy delivery of our lunches. When our food arrives, everything looks great. My tuna salad (which was cooked to my “rare” temperature specifications) is soooo good, it seems straight out of a seaside bistro. The kids’ mac-n-cheese is homemade and my daughter is psyched to find crispy crackers throughout cheesy shells. The fish and chips are served with homemade french fries and the fish nuggets are covered in confetti-type batter that has specks of green and red which, oddly, my my son isn’t deterred by whatsoever (my kids often subscribe to the “if it doesn’t look familiar, I’m not eating it” theory).

What’s The Damage?
For four lunch entrees, the bill rings up at $39. The tuna salad ran me $12.50, which did tip the scales slightly, but I was bummed to see that the two milks I ordered for the kids cost us another $4 (apparently only fountain sodas come with the kids meals, ouch!). However, everyone really enjoyed their meals, our server was outstanding and we had a very relaxing (thank you Wiki Sticks!) meal. We never felt rushed, but never waited for anything either. And Amesbury is a cute little place to walk around après lunch. There’s a great ice cream parlor a few doors down, lots of fun window shopping and parking is always a cinch (on-street parking is free!).

The Bottom Line (based on a five-star rating):
Distraction Offering: ???? (the kids were thrilled with the activity mats and Wiki Sticks)
Atmosphere: ???  (it was very clean, but did have that slight “old” smell when you first walked in)
Food: ???¾   (my kids and I loved our selections, but my dad said his French Dip was “not as good as Galley Hatch”, oh well)
Affordability: ??? (wasn’t impressed with the extra charge for the kids’ milk…3 and 5 year olds shouldn’t be drinking soda)
Service: ????½  (extremely accommodating and super friendly; the manager walks around and asks how everyone is doing, I like that)

puppy_chow    mac-n-cheese

tuna_salad     inside

Barking Dog Bar & Grill
21 Friend Street, Amesbury MA  (978) 388-9537

Have you been to the Barking Dog? What were your thoughts?



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