The Little Pub Company has been running neighborhood bars since the Spot Bar & Grill opened in the mid-'90s at South Pennsylvania Street and Bayaud Avenue. Most are unassuming joints with basic bar food and a drink roster that flirts with crafty without ever getting esoteric — after all, a neighborhood pub should appeal to everyone in the neighborhood. But now the company is retooling a few longstanding favorites to offer a more rounded dining experience. One of the first to get a makeover as part of the new Little Restaurant Group is the Irish Hound, at 575 Saint Paul Street, which has been renamed the Hound and will reopen on November 14.
Also new to the company is chef Dakota Coburn, who has headed the kitchen at Centro Mexican Kitchen in Boulder since 2014. He's the culinary director of the new branch of Little Pub Company and will oversee the transition of the Hound from Irish pub to what he describes as a high-end neighborhood restaurant with contemporary American cuisine.
"America is very much a melting pot," Coburn explains. "There's so much influence from other cultures."
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Those influences will show up on the new menu the chef has written for the Hound, with classic steak frites, a fried-oyster banh mi and even whole Korean fried chicken. But there will also be an old-school burger without any fancy toppings, and an homage to a famous American restaurant in the form of a frisee salad with bacon and a poached egg in the style of Tavern on the Green's. Coburn's background in Mexican cooking also makes an appearance, with build-your-own pork tacos and a poblano chile stuffed with mushrooms and quinoa.
The front of the house, under general manager Cecilia Jones (who comes from the Hillstone restaurant group), has also received some upgrades, with new booths, new hardwood floors and lighter tones to balance the space's dark woods. Coburn notes that the Hound's bar has not been touched other than to remove a few shelves to uncover two large mirrors on the bar back. Since the bar already had eleven tap handles, local craft beer will continue to be part of the program, along with a new list of classic cocktails.
According to Coburn, the Little Restaurant Group will make similar changes at three or four of its other holdings over the next two years. Although the exact locations have not yet been named, one of the company's other Irish pubs — Patrick Carroll's, at 3963 Tennyson Street in Berkeley — has already been transformed and is now Paddy the Yank Chicken and Fish, serving fried cod, rainbow trout, lemon and herb chicken (fried or grilled) and a handful of decidedly non-Irish small plates and other pub fare.