The Hound is an up-scale, southern bar and restaurant behind the main strip in downtown Auburn. It faces a parking deck and the ugly back entrances of the shops and restaurants in its vicinity, but inside, the food is top-notch and the atmosphere warm and comfortable, making this place very much a diamond in the rough. The Hound is popular, but if you have to wait for a table, there are two seating areas in addition to the bar where you can enjoy a drink and relax with your party.
I would classify the menu as gourmet southern. The menu rotates seasonally, but features red meat (beef and bison), chicken, pork (bacon has a prominent role at The Hound), and some fish. I didn’t try any, but I’ve never seen anybody not finish their meatloaf, or any meal for that matter. I like burgers and I have a graduate student’s income, so I look for them on the menu when I go to places like this.
The first burger I had at The Hound was a special for the evening in that the patty enveloped duck meat, which should give you a clue about the experimental leanings of the chef. The chef even visited our table during our meal to see how we liked the duck burger special–a nice gesture, even if there was no doubt about our answer: my carnivorous friends and I liked it very much. I’ve also tried the bison burger. It’s topped with swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and fried onions. The crispy fried onions give the burger an intriguing texture, and the swiss and mushrooms really complement the mellow, almost sweet bison meat.
Appetizers at The Hound feature bacon, pimiento cheese, and their various in-house jams and jellies. Don’t let their low-key, straightforward names fool you (like “Mama Sue’s Pepper Jelly” or “The Hound’s Spicy Pimiento Cheese and Crackers”). They are just as gourmet as the rest of the menu. I’ve tried just one dessert, the ice cream with berry compote (also made in-house) and granola and I savored every bite save the ones I reluctantly surrendered to Lauren.
The Hound also touts extensive draft and craft beer options, as well as some signature drinks and wine. Everybody in your party should be able to find something they like and something new they’re willing to try. My Maker’s Old Fashioned was more bitter than others I’ve had, but not in a bad way. I also like dark, flavorful beers, which are always available on tap.
The Hound, minus the food and beverages, is comfortable and inviting. It sports masculine decorations including rough-cut wood, antlers and horns, and brick. The lighting is low, but you can still see your friends and across the room. Something that is important to me in places like this is that I can actually hear what people are saying at my table. I assume the brick and wood, combined with the exposed ceiling and relatively spaced out seating substantially reduce the noise, which I appreciate very much. Many places in Auburn blast music, cram you right next to another table, and are built like the inside of a drum with hard plastic and wood bouncing all the sound everywhere.
Finally, the waitstaff and hostesses are friendly and have always offered fast service. Ordering with even minor changes to what’s printed on the menu is no issue for the servers or the kitchen. We’re not picky eaters–I asked to sub in the soup of the day (chorizo and black eyed peas!) for my fries and Lauren simply asked for no onions on her burger, and both of us were accommodated without hesitation or question.
Overall, The Hound is a great experience, but know that it comes with a relatively higher price tag than other places in Auburn. You definitely get what you pay for. I recommend The Hound without any reservations. Well, you might want to get reservations. Ugh, you know what I mean.