Delco Profile: Chef Dan McKenna Delights Diners with Scratch-Made Fare at Barking Dog Garden Patio in Media

When you plug the address for Barking Dog Garden Patio into your GPS, you might be confused when what comes up is Media Real Estate Company. But, behind this unassuming office building on the corner of E. Baltimore Ave. and Edgemont St. in Media is a beautifully landscaped outdoor pop-up restaurant, a secret garden hidden in plain sight.

Barking Dog Garden Patio is a collaboration between Chef Dan McKenna and Bill Strine, Jr. (COO of Media Real Estate), which started in the spring of 2021. McKenna and Strine, who’ve been friends for about seven years, originally teamed up in 2019 with the intention of starting an artisan beef jerky shop in a former auto detailing shop in the rear of the building. However, Covid-19 caused them to pivot, and McKenna started selling scratch-made soups and ready-to-heat dinners to Media locals, with a handful of picnic tables set up behind the office.

Chef Dan McKenna

After making it through 2020, McKenna and Strine reimagined the space as a twice-weekly pop-up restaurant that would allow them to continue McKenna’s passion for cooking with a more sustainable schedule. As a 40-year veteran in the local culinary industry, McKenna spent much of his career working for restaurants like It’s About Thyme, The Dilworthtown Inn and Pinocchio’s. He says that at this point, in his early 60s, the idea of putting in 70+ hour weeks in the kitchen has lost its appeal.

“During Covid, so many people said, ‘I can’t wait to go back to normal,’ but my thought was that it’s never going back to normal, you’ve got to change with the times,” he remembers. “I like how the pop-ups mean I know exactly how many people I’m going to feed and what they’re going to eat when they arrive.” 

Barking Dog Garden Patio hosts dinners at 5:30 and 8 p.m. every Wednesday and Friday, May through November, with 7 tables seating between 18 and 24 guests. Guests wind their way behind the Media Real Estate Office and enter the charming al fresco restaurant, greeted by a statue of Charlie, McKenna’s beloved German Shepherd (the “barking dog” in the business’ name). The atmosphere is welcoming with twinkly lights, candles and music, and patrons are welcome to BYOB anything they like to compliment McKenna’s ever-rotating menu.

The menu features a handful of signature dishes, like ricotta gnocchi, steak au poivre and shrimp cocktail, enhanced with seasonal specials each week. McKenna follows the classical French Escoffier principles of cooking, with a focus on technique and flavors. However, the ingredients used to make the food are what really set Barking Dog apart. 

“Everything is made from scratch, and we grow all our own vegetables and herbs on site, so for instance, for our Caesar salad, we grow the romaine here,” he says. “You’ve heard of farm to table — we’re farm and table.”

McKenna, who has always enjoyed gardening, tends to the garden with Strine and their wives. They grow garlic, broccoli, cabbage, multiple varieties of tomatoes, cauliflower, lettuce, fresh herbs and more. He’s also an avid forager; the wineberries in the house salad vinaigrette were foraged in June and vacuum-sealed to use throughout the year. This literal garden-fresh produce, plus the model of the restaurant, allow McKenna to avoid food waste and execute quality control at the highest level.

“We don’t take any walk-ins, so it’s all by reservation, and I ask people to submit their orders 48 hours in advance, so I only buy what I need,” he says. 

McKenna also makes sauces, soups and bread in-house. During dinner service, McKenna cooks over a cherry wood-fed open fire in front of the diners, for a truly unique experience. 

“I have lots of regulars who sit here and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I’m in Media, I feel like I’m in Europe!’” he notes.

When patio season ends each November, McKenna switches gears to selling soups, specialty goods, like fresh pasta and sausage, and prepared meals, or bringing out his BBQ smoker and barbecuing baby back ribs and chicken legs right on Baltimore Ave. He still sells his beef jerky, as well, under the name Dan Good Jerky

Even in the third season of Barking Dog Garden Patio, McKenna says some people still don’t understand the model, and ask to make reservations on a Saturday, or ask him why they’re not open more often. His answer is simple: two nights a week is all he wants to be open.

“If I can feed 30-40 people a few nights a week, if everything is exquisite and they tell their friends, I enjoy that,” he says. “Turning it into a full-scale thing could make it become a lot of stress, and at my age, I don’t want to do it anymore. I like keeping it small and special.”

For more information about Barking Dog Garden Patio, or to make reservations, visit its website. You can also make a reservation by calling or texting (484) 724-4389. Don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and Instagram for more info and updates.

Find Barking Dog Garden Patio at 203 E. Baltimore Avenue in Media, PA. 

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Want to know more about everything Delco? We’re more than just your source for good eats — we’re your source for where to stay, what to do and more in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We’re Visit Delco, PA, and we’ve got you covered from Philly to the Brandywine. Find us at 1501 N. Providence Rd., Media, PA, 19063; (610) 565-3679 or online.

Emily Kovach


All photos courtesy of Barking Dog Garden Patio