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bottle of red wine, glsas of red wine, yellow cocktail, tealight candle, green beans, mussels and baguette and chicken dish on a table against an exposed brick wall at Black Dog Tavern

The Original Kingston Spot: Black Dog Tavern

In 2000, Kingston’s Le Chien Noir Bistro opened on a shoestring budget. Two friends put everything they had into creating a French-inspired spot for Kingstonians to enjoy. Fast forward to 2023 and 4 restaurants later, Black Dog Tavern (formerly Le Chien Noir) is a thriving part of the fabric of Kingston’s community.

So how did they get here?

The Story of Black Dog Tavern

Keep reading to find out how Le Chien Noir eventually transformed into the Black Dog Tavern that Kingstonians know and love today!

In the beginning

mussels and two slices of baguette in a red sauce in a shallow white speckled bowl

Ok, let’s start back at the beginning in 2000 where we began this story. Tim Pater and his business partner opened Le Chien Noir as a French Bistro. The popularity of bistro-style restaurants was on the rise in North America, and they thought Kingston could use something similar.

Opening any way, they could on that shoestring budget, Tim and his partner had to get creative. As they waited for renovations to finish, they built everything they needed for the restaurant off-site in a warehouse. They grabbed old Coca-Cola fridges and scrounged to make it work.

On opening day, the menu was made up of delicious, French-inspired eats. Think duck confit and steak frites type of deal – a delicious and small menu. It took off almost right away and quickly became a staple in Kingston.

The chefs of Le Chien Noir could often be seen selecting fresh, locally grown produce at the local farmers’ market. Local craft brews were brought in, and it truly became a part of the fabric of downtown Kingston. Over the years, the menu began to expand, and new, modern dishes began to be added to the menu.

The Special Occasion Restaurant

on the left, a bartender is pouring alcohol into a shaker, on the right she is pouring the yellow cocktail into a pretty glass

Along the way, as Le Chien Noir gained notoriety, it became known as somewhere to celebrate special occasions. Families would gather for birthdays, retirements, engagements and more.

While celebrating big milestones was amazing, Tim felt there was something missing. He missed the days when Le Chien Noir was also a place just to gather because and not just for special occasions.

On top of that, the year 2020 landed on top of the restaurant industry and as COVID took a sweep, it was time to adjust.  They began offering takeout, great cocktails and some more casual eats that would hit the spot and make people feel good.

All these changes came with a rebranding: Le Chien Noir wouldn’t just be for special occasions (of course there are still many of those) but it would also be a place for buddies to hang out, for couples to grab a cocktail and for people to relax and have a good time. Out emerged a new name as well: Black Dog Tavern.

“It’s a great feeling to finally be back to somewhat normal business,” says Tim. “There are all kinds of things we’re facing now…but at least we have our customers back, and we can be a small part of that local restaurant community fabric again.”

Today at Black Dog Tavern

couple eating outdoors at Black Dog Tavern, one person with arm around the other

Fancy a visit? Today at Black Dog Tavern, you won’t be disappointed. You can still grab that original steak and frites or you can grab a drool-worthy burger, non-alcoholic bevies or a cocktail sure to hit the spot. Whether you’re biting into a savoury croque monsieur or a black dog chicken sandwich, you’ll find a marriage of old and new, the everyday and the momentous. It’s all worth celebrating.

Try More!

photo of interior of black dog tavern with focus on the bar area

Black Dog Tavern is just one of four restaurants owned by Tim and his team at  Black Dog Hospitality. Next month, we’ll share the story of Atomica, the second restaurant they opened!

Want to try Black Dog Tavern? They currently accept Feast On® vouchers. They work at any participating Feast On® restaurant and make for a great gift!