True to English pub form, the draw at the now 1-year-old The Dogs Bollocks, 2321 N. Murray Ave., is seemingly not the food but instead a clean, bright pub with a decent beer selection and televisions showing all the latest sporting events.
On two recent visits, we found the pub business very slow, and on a weekday, we were the only patrons dining. As there was no server on duty on a Wednesday night and the bartender was waiting tables, we took this type of dinner crowd (or lack thereof) to be fairly standard for the pub.
The Dogs Bollocks has a simple English pub meets American bar fare menu. Wings ($7.95), chicken tenders ($7.95) and potato skins ($7.95) make a showing alongside curried British chips or fritters ($5.95) and Grimsby cod fishcakes ($7.95). The wings are bony and have little flavor to go with the small amount of chicken meat. On our visit, they were served with a side of ranch dressing.
After the appetizers, the menu is divided into a children's section, soups and salads, Sarneys (sandwiches) and British favorites.
Jewel in the crown curry ($9.95) featured tiny cubes of chicken in a curry sauce over basmati rice. While aromatic, the dish lacked flavor, and the chicken was slightly dry. Bangers and mash ($10.95) surprised with the bangers encased in a puff pastry type shell, reminiscent of a very thin pasty. Mashed potatoes came covered in gelatinous brown gravy with mushrooms.
Brunch at The Dogs Bollocks was a slightly better dining experience and this time there were three other tables of diners, so we ate in the dining room which now had a waitress on staff.
Brunch items are to be served with hash browns or potato of the day, but on our visit, there was no potato of the day. The brunch menu includes standards like eggs Benedict ($8.95), a bacon and ham quiche ($8.95) and French toast (coined William of Normandy Toast, $7.95), in addition to a full English breakfast ($12.95), and British pancakes filled with chicken, mushroom, spinach, cream sauce and cheese ($8.95).
The English breakfast offered "bubble and squeak" mashed potatoes-box-style mashed potatoes with bits of carrots and peas, grilled mushrooms, two bangers (this time breading-free), a marinated tomato, and a piece of soft toast buttered with margarine. The fried egg came over-hard rather than to the diner's specification.
RAF scrambler ($8.95) was intriguing to me in name, but the server didn't know what the meaning of RAF was either. Regardless, the scramble of red and green bell peppers, bacon, cheese, potatoes and mushrooms was not unpleasant, although certainly nothing to look at on the plate.
Service on both visits was adequate, and interestingly enough, both employees we encountered were new to the pub and hadn't tried most of the items on the menu.
My experiences here were not ones that would bring me back to the Bollocks to dine; I likely wouldn't try anything else on the menu unless I was there catching a soccer game on the weekend or a Tuesday night pub quiz and wanted a convenient but lackluster bite a few pints into the evening.
Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.
The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.
Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to OnMilwaukee.com.