The Hunter’s Hound, Friendship Heights, Maryland

I was eager to try The Hunter’s Hound as soon as I walked by and saw they were hiring in anticipation of opening. I finally made it there with my friend, Frank McAuliffe, a stalwart of our monthly lunch group. Frank is, like the rest of us, of a certain age, and a determined athlete. That means he messed up his knee, and he was hobbling a bit, but Frank also is enthusiastic about food, and a thoughtful critic, and neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night could stay this diner from his appointed meal.

As the name suggests, Hunter’s Hound has a hunting motif, with lots of highly polished wood and hunting trophies. It’s a beautiful, or perhaps handsome space, evoking the posh aspect of Ireland. It also is a very accommodating space, with a number of distinct seating alternatives. The volume can get kind of loud, even on a weeknight. There was a table of eight women who were celebrating something, and occasionally sounding more like 18 than eight. It was a happy group, however, with bursts of laughter and joy rather than angry shouts about politics, traffic, or parking. 

To the food: Well, first to the drink. I had a Guinness in honor of the season, and it was a triumph. The Hunter’s Hound gives Guinness a proper pour, beginning with the proper glass, a 20-ounce Imperial pint glass.

The pouring ritual is elaborate, involving six steps. Here’s a video. The pour matters. When Nancy and I toured Ireland, I tried Guinness in … a considerable number of venues. I armed myself with internet research on which pubs had the best pours, and the difference in flavor was remarkable. The one thing I’d forgotten at Hunter’s Hound was the time the pour takes, so I neglected to order a bottled beer while I waited. Frank had a Smithwick’s, which is the most popular ale in Ireland for good reason.

Now let’s really go to the food. Frank and I went back in March — See how far I get behind when I go away to St. Kitts — and they had a St. Patrick’s Day menu. I chose the Beef and Guinness Pie, which, curiously for an ostensibly Irish place, is not on the regular menu.

Frank chose the corned beef and cabbage, which, perhaps more understandably, also is not a regular offer.

Frank enjoyed the corned beef and cabbage, and I got a taste of corned beef and can vouch for it. (Where I grew up you cook cabbage without pork side meat or not at all, so I passed on the cabbage.) And my beef and Guinness pie was delicious. It had a very rich combination of flavors, the rich beef matched with creamy potatoes. The stew was topped by that delightful little pillbox with a good flaky crust. The execution could hardly have been better, and truly, it was a fine dish.

Although the decor gives an Irish feel, the menu is relatively stateless. The Hunter’s Hound gives a quick nod to Shepherd’s Pie and then on past moules to fish and chips to cavatelli with chorizo and vegetables in a wine and tomato sauce. The dinner menu includes eight entrees with something for everyone — burger, salmon, pasta, etc. It also includes 13 “small plates,” so there is a tapas element. The lunch menu is much like the dinner menu, and there is a bar menu on which almost all of the small plates reappear as “bar food.” You also can get a real and fake burger at the bar, but other entrees are unavailable. The brunch menu contains that glory of glories, a Full Irish Breakfast, and other familiar brunch offerings.

The overall menu effect mutes the apparent purpose of the decor. That’s probably just as well. After Frank decided on a third round, I refrained from breaking into “The Rising of the Moon.” If someone else were to start singing, however, all bets would be off after that third 20-ouncer.

The bottom line is that Hunter’s Hound is a beautiful setting for a meal, perhaps especially for a group of friends. And the food at Hunter’s Hound is well prepared and flavorful. Truly, the kitchen knows what it’s doing. And, rare among places in the US, the Hunter’s Hound really does full honor to Guinness. I haven’t been to the Dubliner in some years, but I’ll venture that Hunter’s Hound does the best Guinness pour in the area. If for that alone, I will go back. If that beef and Guinness pie were always on the menu, I’d go more often. Boy, was it good!

Go give it a try. I’ll be interested in your take. Do have a Guinness there, though.


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4 thoughts on “The Hunter’s Hound, Friendship Heights, Maryland

  1. I thought that this review of the food at Hunter’s Hound was rather superficial (at least), particularly since it apparently was mostly done about a special holiday menu item and not about the food which patrons are likely to see on a “regular” visit!

    Liked by 1 person

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