At the Sign of the Spotted Dog

It’s been a while since I got to do this. I’m sitting in theSpotted Dog, eating blue cheese chips and drinking Newcastle, just to get away from my desk for a couple of hours, at least. Even now, though, I’m continuing to work (well, not now — right now I’m playing with the free WiFi), thanks to the magical productivity benefits of working in a half-empty pub.

A couple of weeks ago, I tried this trick at the Graveyard Tavern in East Atlanta, and got a surprising amount of work done, sitting at the bar with printouts and my red pen. I’d stopped going to the Graveyard because it still feels weirdly empty and somehow unfinished — like the tables have been set up on a stage with plenty of space for the actors to play their scenes. Happily, the Graveyard updated their menu back in September (which was news to me), but unhappily it isn’t quite enough, yet, I don’t think. Still, I’ll go back again and sample something else off the new menu to be sure, and let you know.

But first, let me say that the Spotted Dog is a great space — big but with some cozy spaces, dark but not gloomy, classy but not too stiff. The building, as you know, used to be a firehouse, but inside I might think I was in part of an old train station, thanks to the scale (big clock, huge bar, expansive tile floor). Parking is a right bitch, but if I were on foot in Midtown, I’d get in here in a second.

The menu here seems to be identica to Hand in Hand (which is, I think, the only other Derek Lawford pub I’ve actually been to), which is fine, but also a bit of a letdown — I like this menu plenty, but I feel like I’m going to exhaust it pretty quick, especially if I’m seemingly ordering off it everywhere I go. Until that happens, I’ll get me another Newcastle, order something with Stilton and try to imagine how I can get back to the UK.

While I’m daydreaming, though, tell me something: What’s your favorite of the Derek Lawford pubs?

11 Comments so far

  1. Limey (unregistered) on January 28th, 2007 @ 9:00 pm

    The Lawford pubs are nice to look at, but their drink prices are ridiculously high (I feel like I’m being charged pound sterling) and their food is terrible (maybe they’re trying too hard to live up the British reputation for food). If they could work on those two things, I’d visit more frequently.

  2. Annie (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 12:37 am

    I have to agree with ole limey – not great food, overpriced, etc. They have great ambience, but there is something somewhat false about them all. Now. Tell me more about the Blue cheese. i want details.

  3. danboo (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 10:26 am

    Lawford’s pubs are such disappointments for beer lovers. I’ve never been to a pub in Britain, so I don’t know anything about the diversity of their menus, but I think a British pub in the U.S. should try to feature more off the run English, Scottish and Irish beers than Lawford does.

    It is unfortunate that he fills space in his fridge with bottles of Italian Lager, and runs parking lot parties sponsored by Amstel Light. I bet I can get a larger variety of English, Scottish and Irish brews at the Brick Store, which prides itself on its Belgain beers.

    And, if I’m going to pay that much for a burger, it should at least be as good as the Vortex. I will say though that the blue cheese chips aren’t bad.

  4. Will (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 10:33 am

    Fair enough, then. I can’t argue with the pricing and beer selection comments — I go knowing I want a Newcastle, but if a larger selection of beers were available, I’d explore them.

    So what’s a good British-style pub in Atlanta? Where should I be going?

  5. Kevin (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 11:06 am

    I lived across the street from Fox and Hounds for nearly 3 years and only went maybe 5-6 times. Their beer selection is poor and overpriced, the main reasons I didn’t go much. Brick Store has the best beer selection in the city, Taco Mac is second. As a matter of fact, I had a great evening at Brick Store on Saturday. If Brick Store opened up in the old Melting Pot location off Collier I bet Fox and Hounds wouldn’t last much longer. I know if I had a choice in that area there would be no way I’d set foot in Fox and Hounds.

  6. Will (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 11:39 am

    Oh, man, I love the Brick Store, but I so rarely have an hour to cut out of my evening just to get in there and get room to sit. It always seems to be packed — or is that just my bad luck? If I could get in there easier, it’d be my scotch-drinking, pretzel-eating exposed-brick headquarters.

  7. George Burdell (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 12:29 pm

    Limerick Junction has a decent array of beers from the UK. I also dig the dankness of the place – truly British.

  8. CM (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 1:46 pm

    Try The Manchester Arms ( in College Park. It feels genuinely English and the food is good.

  9. Maigh (unregistered) on January 29th, 2007 @ 3:04 pm

    All I’m sayin’ is that if you want blue cheese chips you need to be nibblin’ them at 97 Estoria.

  10. Kevin (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 9:26 am

    The wait may be getting shorter sometime this year at the Brick Store. They will open a second location in Grant Park (near the bottom):

  11. ed (unregistered) on January 30th, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

    so i was just kicked out of the prince of wales on sat so i have a bad taste in my mouth about lawford

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