Nested between the mansions of golf superstars, actors, directors, politicians, business people, ubber wealthy people is the very small and eclectic Yellow Dog Eats Bistro and Wine Store. No, no, I am not talking about Hollywood, CA. I am referring to Windermere, FL. You know, home of Tiger Woods. Same guy…… lives in the neighborhood. This place is right on a residential street across from a church. Old Florida during its finer days.
Driving up to the restaurant there are no visible signs (or I am sight challenged), to give any indications where to park. Other than right in front of the restaurant, there are two parking lots one behind the restaurant and the other across the street. Since the front door is right on the sidewalk, if one has a doggie they would have to enter through the back entrance. From the back parking lot, it is easy access to the back courtyard and back door. If one is alone with a doggie they would have to leave the doggie outside to go into the bistro to order. So take along a companion…or make one there. Lots of friendly families hanging out in the courtyard.
This little quirky place is all about controlled or focused chaos. For a first time diner there are a lot things that grab ones attention. Walking up to the back entrance there is a smoker (you know, that thing that makes real BBQ), this place has real BBQ! The pathway leads to this very enchanted courtyard filled with tons of relic finds, ole world treasures, mismatched things, wild signs, chickens, and a nice relaxed vibe. It feels like one is visiting a old uncle who collects “stuff”. But make no mistake, this ain’t just stuff. This is a collector’s paradise. If you cringe about ole stuff keep driving.
Caution! The backdoor opens inward. Watch through the glass and make sure no one is behind before opening the door. Or when coming back out with full hands of food ask for help. The toilet is immediately to the left. Smack. Collision. Oh, well what a nice way to make and entrance or introduction. Few steps and there are diners hushed over various sandwiches, salads, and BBQ. There are open wine and sauce storage cabinets all around the store. The chef makes and bottles for retail his own labeled sauces. To the right is an order counter and the line. Take note. Read the menu online, know what you want, join the line and be ready to order, once. That includes drinks, beer, and wine. Remember, this is counter service.
After the order, when your food is ready someone will summon you over the public address system that your food is ready. You pick up, gather utensils from a service station and off you go to indulge. Fresh brewed flavored China Mist Ice tea (mango, raspberry, black tea) refills are free and the ice tea machine is located in the dining room with easy access. Soda refills are done at the counter. The choice of wines were simple, red or white. If you prefer something off the shelf they will open it for you. There were no beer or wine menus visible. Counter service—just ask.
After pouring over the menu in the courtyard we settled on a couple of orders.
Black Forest Hambone Sandwich
Black forest smoked ham with Gouda Cheese, layered with wood smoked pineapple, blankets of leaf lettuce, tomato, sweet smokey pommery grain mustard and a hint of Yellow dog’s orange-cointreau mayo, served on a multi grain bread.
Perfect combination of ingredients to make a very cohesive sandwich. Never loved pineapple more. Coleslaw here was okay.
The Rufus Sandwich with Cream of Asparagus Soup
Succulent Yellow Dog pulled pork topped with thick cut Brie cheese, cherry ring peppers, drizzled with raspberry Melba, shoestring potatoes, fried onions, smoked apple wood bacon.
Artery clogging at its finest. This is no let’s nibble sammie. Pick up in both hands eat to the end. Breathe. Lick fingers. Snack lips. This mountain of goodness can hardly fit in the hands much less the mouth. Pieces will fall off. Pick up with hands after. This raspberry melba sauce added a sweet citrus dimension to the pork that is unparalleled. The pork was tender, juicy, and succulent. The fiery pepper kick put this sandwich on a “must try level” for anyone serious about BBQ. Nothing much can be said about the cream of asparagus soup other than it was not very creamy. More like watery. The accompanying coleslaw was spicy, nice kick.
I washed down the entire thing with a glass of Ass Kisser Shiraz from Australia. This was a fruit forward medium bodied wine that paired great with the sweet citrus fruit flavors of the Rufus. The interesting thing was the glass. This Rednek glass is for sale in the store for $12 by it self or $10 with wine. We are still in the south. A mason jar with a stem. Let’s throw a couple back ole boy. Cool right!
The back courtyard is great for dogs. There are many interesting corners for a dog to explore. The patio, the trees, the fence, the sculptures, the tables, run after the fowl, what else. Tired. Water. However, for a dog themed concept there does not seem to be any doggie amenities. No water fountains or water bowls or treats. Hmmm. Maybe I did not look hard enough, there are a lot of things back there. I may have missed it.
This restaurant is a lot of fun. Take a breath, breathe take in your surroundings, slow down and enjoy. Let the initial confusion take you down a notch or two. Let this place take you to somewhere enchanting. After all it is in Disney’s backyard. Nevertheless, the owners have taken a modest dog concept and turn it on its head to make it something fun, creative, enduring, and very lasting. Bow wow crazy dogs. Bow wow.