Red Dog Saloon was my second foodie visit after last month's trip to Thaikhun to the brand new Westquay Watermark in Southampton, however this time I was returning as a brand spanking new vegetarian... to a BBQ meat restaurant! As you can imagine, I wasn't really expecting much choice as when we scanned the menu beforehand, we could only find two veggie-friendly main courses in the form of a bean burger and an avocado salad. Now, don't get me wrong - you can get some pretty fantastic bean burgers, but being limited to a singular option on the mains menu did admittedly have me feeling a little doubtful. However, despite only being two weeks into veggie life, I was curious as to how a BBQ meat house would cater to a vegetarian customer.
We arrived just after midday and was quickly shown to our seats. The decor is exactly what you would expect; inspired by the idea of a U.S. western saloon with cowboy vibes, rich dark wooden surfaces, taxidermy decorating the walls and an impressively well-stocked bar on the righthand side of the restaurant.
We begun by ordering drinks and dived straight towards the intriguing cocktail menu. I ordered an Avocado Margarita whilst James opted for the Jalapeño & Pineapple Margarita. The avocado option was a blend of avocado, agave syrup, Calle 23, Cointreau, fresh lime & pinch of chilli pepper, whilst James' cocktail was a mixture of orange & pineapple juice, sliced jalapeño, Calle 23, Cointreau & fresh lime. Both made a welcome change to the sickly, sweet, fruity cocktails and actually complimented our feast of dirty food perfectly.
In this instance, the staff at Red Dog knew we were vegetarians there to review the menu, so they had prepared to bring out a selection of all of their vegetarian options to showcase how much they had to offer. Much to our surprise we were greeted with an entirely meat-free spread of U.S. inspired dirty food! Whilst there is only two vegetarian mains on offer on the menu, there's a huge number of veggie-friendly sides that are entirely feasible to eat as a main.
Our spread consisted of the following: a bean burger, french fries, sweet potato fries, onion rings, coleslaw, breaded jalapeño poppers, fried mozzarella sticks, chop salad, tender butter soaked broccoli and my absolute favourite dish, mac 'n' cheese!
The particular stand out dishes for me was the burger, which is built from a 3-bean & quinoa patty, queso fresco cheese, guacamole, sour cream & jalapeños. I did find it wasn't spicy enough for my taste (admittedly I do like a lot of spice), but it was utterly delicious when teamed with the hot BBQ sauce which is found on the table.
The creamy mac 'n' cheese, which was topped with a dusting of fine breadcrumbs, was another favourite. When it comes to mac 'n' cheese, I'm not often disappointed because I love it that much but the combination of the textures from the breadcrumbs and the rich, stringy sauce was just incredible!
The jalapeño poppers, although messy, were bursting with flavour from the spicy peppers and oozed with melted cheese after each bite. The cooling dipping sauce helped balance out the spicy punch and just brought the combination of flavours together perfectly.
Whilst I can completely confirm that Red Dog Saloon has enough choice for a vegetarian diet, it wouldn't be appropriate for anyone that is vegan. If you were intending to visit a a vegetarian with meat-eating friends, you wouldn't be left out when it comes to choice as the staff at Red Dog can whip you up a feast of meat-free, 'dirty' food. The staff were ever so friendly and approachable, so if you were feeling unsure I'm certain they'd be more than happy to help with recommendations.
I had heard a few different negative experiences regarding the customer service in Red Dog Saloon, but I always go into somewhere with a completely open mind and don't let other people's stories hinder my own personal experience. I can honestly say all of the staff that looked after us were attentive, polite and absolutely wonderful in talking us through our food. Granted, when we arrived it wasn't too busy, but I still couldn't have asked for anything more from our hosts.
Disclaimer: I was offered a complimentary meal for this review, but all words are honest and my own.