Dish on Design: White Dog Cafe

White Dog Cafe opened a second location recently outside of Philadelphia, with a new owner and a new look.  Originally conceived as a small cafe in University City, the owner of the new Wayne location wanted it to look like it had been around for over 50 years.   The restaurant is divided into small rooms, like in a home, each with a distinct personality.  Extensive millwork, antiques, and accents culled from around the world create its cohesiveness.

The bar area with its coffered ceiling, wing back banquettes, and commissioned portraits of dogs lining the deep red walls give it a clubby feel.  Antique bottles and bottle dryers were crafted into clever light fixtures.

The Garden Room has a decidedly feminine feel.  Recycled shutters, assorted light fixtures, and floral prints make you feel like you're dining on a veranda in the Spring.

The Library, with its leather topped dining game tables, houses books on the shelves, but whimsically they also float thru the air!

The restaurant's simple Farm to Table philosophy is best expressed in the Kitchen Room, with it's reclaimed exposed wood, copper pots, and fixtures made from mason jars.   Dog references still abound, and the contemporary American cuisine shines. 


1 pound (2 cups) French or regular lentils, picked over (I like the French Puy lentils because they hold their shape better)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups diced yellow onion
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons mustard seeds (I used brown but yellow would be fine too)
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 can (14 oz) plum tomatoes, undrained
3 cups tightly packed spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems, for serving

Place the lentils in a saucepan and add water to cover by 4 inches.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are just tender, 20 to 30  minutes.  Drain the lentil, reserving the cooking liquid separately.
In a nonreactive stockpot set over medium heat, heat the oil until it ripples.  Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, adn cayenne and cook for 1 minute. Look at these beautiful spices!! Stir in the tomatoes and their juice; break the tomatoes into large chunks with the back of a wooden spoon.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
Stir in the cooked lentils and add 3 cups of the lentil cooking liquid.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Stir in the spinach and cook until completely wilted.  If the soup is too thick, add more of the lentil cooking liquid or water.  Add the salt and pepper.
To serve, divide the soup among 6 warmed bowls. Top with cilantro. If you like, top with chunks of feta cheese as well. Sometimes I'll put a little plain yogurt on top

photos: Vance Bell & Around Main Line
receipe:Washington's Green Grocer

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