Blink and it's likely you'll miss the entrance to Rain Dog Bar on 9th Avenue S.E. in Calgary. An unassuming door with a small terrier-shaped wooden cutout and the words "rain dog bar" scribbled over the door handle is not the most noticeable entrance to a new restaurant, but it most definitely is fitting. Located directly above Gorilla Whale, this new bar has placed an emphasis on unique beers and cider, but it is a far cry from a pub. Rather, Rain Dog Bar vibes more like a relaxed cocktail bar, with the difference being an emphasis on interesting beers as opposed to cocktails.
Rain Dog Bar has been in the works for a fairly long time for owner and local industry veteran Bil Bonar (most notably of the former Taste restaurant, where Shelter is now located). The first in the province to obtain his cicerone certification, Bonar spent years delving deep into the world of beer and is now ready with this concept to showcase his love of craft brews along with thoughtful, casual fare and a chill atmosphere.
Chef Chris Lorenz (also noted for his time at Taste) is in charge of the food program, which includes plenty of European-inspired fare such as spätzle with smoked cheddar, lardons and grainy mustard (pictured above), chicken paprikash (a Hungarian classic), boxty (think Irish latkes), and a particularly interesting and delicious pork-stuffed braised onion (pictured above). Simple bar food like pickled eggs, house quick pickles, conserva and charcuterie are also on offer.
The concept has been fairly elusive with its social media leading up to a very quiet opening just a few days ago. As someone who lives in the neighbourhood, I can see this becoming a go-to for both residents of Inglewood and curious beer drinkers alike. The space seats about 40, so I'd expect it to fill up quickly.
Rain Dog Bar is open from 4 p.m. to midnight, Mondays to Saturdays and closed Sundays.