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Genius: Food Critic Has Her Dog Grade a Grill’s Pup Menu

Dogs are not only welcome at Besa Grill in Florida, they're catered to. We've turned a corner!

Michael Leaverton  |  Aug 8th 2013


Besa Grill, a Mexican-fusion bar and grill in Clearwater, Florida, has the sort of keen-eyed, big-hearted general manager we wished worked in all restaurants. According to a story in the Tampa Bay Times, Sam Haupt noticed an uptick in people in the pet friendly patio section ordering for their dogs.

He was concerned, knowing that dogs shouldn’t regularly imbibe some┬áhuman food. High levels of salt, fat, and sugar … the possibility of onions, grapes, raisins … you know the drill.

So what did he do? Haupt created a “pup menu,” and he did it full bore, testing recipes, tweaking dishes, even running them by veterinarians. Emboldened by the fact that dogs have only a fraction of the taste buds we do, he launched his puppy menu.

And Laura Reiley, the food critic for the Tampa Bay Times, dropped by — with her dog, Ollie.

It was a big moment for everyone. Was this the first time a restaurant reviewer had her dog review a restaurant for her? We don’t know. Perhaps. Who cares — a dog is reviewing a restaurant! It’s like a New Yorker cartoon come to life.

Ollie tucked into Backyard Hash (diced steamed fresh vegetables, mashed sweet potatoes, and a savory drizzle), K-9 meatballs (ground beef, diced carrot, and rice with a natural pan gravy), the Brunch Bark Bowl (scrambled eggs, brown rice, and mashed sweet potato), Chicken “Mutt”loaf (chicken, carrots, peas, brown rice, and eggs), and Fido’s Finest (diced filet mignon tips with gravy, brown rice, and a side of sauteed shredded carrot).

After all that, did Ollie slam face-first into a food coma? Did he unbuckle his collar? Did he swear off food for days (or hours or minutes)?

No, he finished his feast off with an iced carrot-peanut butter muffin. Good boy.

Wisely, Reiley refrained from shoving your typical food-reviewer adjectives into the dog’s mouth — like “bold,” “delish,” “yummy,” and “disgusto” — and merely informed us whether the dog ate the food happily or not. Which he did, except for some rice and sweet potatoes, which he turned his nose up at, probably because of all the incredible things the waiters were setting down in front of him, Ollie, the luckiest dog in the world.

Kudos to Besa Grill for not only welcoming dogs, but serving them out of its kitchen. Are you listening, Bobby Flay?

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