Story, photos by Cassie Hepler
What if we told you a supernatural story?
Once upon a time there was a woman who broke her leg. A white dog lay on it for a week while it was healing and all of the sudden it was healed. This is the tale of why there are multiple locations all named White Dog Cafe, according to our excellent server for the evening, Sara with no H.
Known for award-winning contemporary American Cuisine and friendly service with three neighborhood locations in Philadelphia and the Main Line, Judy Wicks, social activist and original founder, opened White Dog Cafe in January of 1983. Located in three connecting Victorian brownstones in University City as a cafe, White Dog quickly became a local favorite known for its environmental sustainability and community engagement. The majority of ingredients are purchased from local farms, located no more than 50 miles from our restaurants.
So when we were invited to dine, it felt great to be able to bring the foodie family from central Pa. along for the ride. My father immediately took on the role of restaurant critic and we were off to the races of a delightful dinner ahead.
We were having quite a hard time deciding what to eat for our entree and eventually we just all decided on steak. My parents chose the 30 ounce bone in ribeye for two with the lobster mac and cheese option, of course. I went for the hanger steak, a different cut of steak with sides included. Spring lamb, salmon and pork chops also sounded delightful but when you want red meat, it has to happen and this is certainly the place to indulge.
Seasonal menus feature only the best ingredients from farms including pasture fed animals, humanely treated livestock and fish and seafood that is harvested through sustainable suppliers. Incorporating organic items, wines grown and produced from American vineyards, tea, coffee and chocolate are Certified Organic and Fair Trade. The restaurants use renewable energy, LED lighting and practice sustainable initiatives that are environmentally friendly.
I needed a switch up from the stiff cocktail so switched off to the King Rowlf made with Single Barrel Jefferson’s Bourbon, strawberry, basil, mint, honey and lemon.
Forcing my parents to continue eating dessert just as they were entering into a food coma was kind of fun, I’m not gonna lie. But with an in-house pastry chef, you cannot say no. It would be rude. But I went light with the mini chocolate mousse parfait with the most delightful candied pecans.
As a pioneer of the farm to table movement, Judy’s vision was about supporting the surrounding communities and growing the local economy that includes farmers, cheese mongers, fisherman, brewers, artisans and bakers. Over the years these partners have grown along with White Dog Cafe. In 2009, Marty Grims bought White Dog Cafe to continue the legacy, adding culinary inspiration and service commitment creating a new compelling restaurant model. A second location opened in Wayne in 2010, to support the needs of a growing Main Line, and in May of 2015, a third location opened in Haverford. Each location’s warmth and welcoming décor boosts a love of dogs that is both artistic and playful. Executive Chef Zach Grainda drives the culinary creativity and sustainable business practices, while Tamas Szene oversees the service and daily operations. Together, the team is proud to provide our local neighborhoods and guests a unique dining experience that is fresh and delicious served by professional staff in a warm and inviting setting.