Gourmet dog diner opens on Carlsbad restaurant’s patio
The dog menu at The Compass in Carlsbad includes salmon with basmati rice and kibble with bone broth gravy
Lizzie usually eats a mostly raw diet, but when she went out for brunch at The Compass gastropub in Carlsbad on Sunday, she indulged in a grilled filet of Faroe Islands salmon with a side of basmati rice.
Lizzie, a 6-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, is among the first furry canine customers to sample The Compass’s new Yappy Hour Dog Menu. Introduced last week, the gourmet menu includes options such as organic chicken breasts, scrambled eggs, beef patties, a scoop of peanut butter with bacon bits and Blue Buffalo kibble with bone broth “gravy” and veggies.
The Compass co-owners Andy Davis, 39, and Jessica Van Driessche, 32, are doting dog owners themselves, but they came up with the Yappy Hour menu because so many of their customers were already bringing their pets along when they dined on the restaurant’s patio.
Over the past eight years that The Compass has been open in the Village Faire shopping center, Davis and Van Driessche said their customers have arrived with dogs, goats, a pig, birds and event a couple of leashed cats. On most Sundays, six to eight dogs will be lounging on the patio at a time.
“Our place has always been popular with animal lovers, so it made sense to open the door to allowing the dogs to dine, too,” said Davis, who with his wife, Kara, owns two dogs: Tyson, a 12-year-old Rottweiler/Lab mix, and Kiké, a 2-year-old Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever.
Davis, who also owns Mas Fina Cantina in Carlsbad Village, said when he opened The Compass in 2011 it was one of the Village’s first farm-to-table, cocktail-forward restaurants. Compass sources most of its ingredients from local farmers and artisan foodmakers. On Sept. 25, Compass will host its sixth annual Shop with the Chef dinner, where guests tour the Carlsbad farmers market with Compass chef Brad Thomas as he selects ingredients for a five-course dinner prepared that evening.
Davis is the restaurant’s ownership partner. Van Driessche is the managing partner. She started out at The Compass as a bartender and worked her way up into an ownership position. Van Driessche and her husband, Wyatt, own Mick, a 9-year-old Australian cattle dog.
The Compass is one of many restaurants in San Diego County to offer a dog menu, but few put as much effort into it as chef Thomas. The proteins on the menu are the same ones served to Compass’s human patrons — including the $13-a-pound farmed salmon from Denmark and Rocky’s free-range organic chicken from central California — but they’re served unseasoned for easier digestion, cooled to a temperature that won’t burn the dogs’ mouths, and cut into tiny pieces if the pooch is teacup size.
After extensive research, Thomas came up with about a dozen dishes — including an elaborate loco moco burger preparation that didn’t make the cut — that was eventually trimmed to seven items. The items range in price from $4 to $8. Thomas said the top-sellers so far have been the salmon with rice, the organic kibble and gravy and the peanut butter with bacon. All of the canine entrees are served in hammered copper bowls along with a dish of water.
The Compass introduced the dog menu on Aug. 26, which was National Dog Day, with a fundraising event that raised $1,000 for Last Chance at Life, a dog rescue organization in Oceanside. Van Driessche said sales of dog menu items were strong over Labor Day weekend and she expects them to grow as the word gets out.
Lizzie’s owner, Audrey Martin of Carlsbad, said The Compass is one of her favorite places to eat because they’re so welcoming to pets. She plans to order meals for Lizzie whenever they come in the future.
“That just gives us another reason to come,” Martin said.
The Compass is at 300 Carlsbad Village Drive, #202 in Carlsbad. For details, visit thecompasscarlsbad.com.