George and the Dragon's family-friendly pub

Traditional English fare lures kids and adults in south Minneapolis

George and the Dragon's family-friendly pub
Benjamin Carter Grimes
George goes beyond the typical English pub food, with dishes like a salmon salad. Take the tour...

The medieval legend of St. George and the Dragon is a classic tale of a girl, her girdle, a guy, and the gigantic lizard he leveraged to help him convert a city of heathens. The whole scenario is pretty bananas, but my guess is you just want to know more about the girdle part. Well, as with any ancient story, both veracity and version control are serious issues, but the basic narrative takes place in Silene, where George happened to be riding by this pond where a lady, who happened to be a princess, was about to be fed to the dragon that happened to live in the pond. A valiant George fortified himself with the sign of the cross, stabbed the dragon, and told the princess to throw him her girdle, as men are wont to do in a stressful situation. She obliged, and George lassoed the dragon with the girdle, which apparently rendered the dragon as pliant and docile as a baby sloth. Girdles! So many uses! Anyway, thanks to the power of this belt George was able to lead the dragon around town, striking fear in the hearts of the villagers, and proclaimed that he would only slay the dragon if they all agreed to be baptized. It proved an effective tactic, and George was eventually martyred and named the patron saint of England.

Fast-forward a few centuries to a beautifully breezy, and thankfully dragonless, Thursday evening in the Lynnhurst neighborhood of south Minneapolis. The line outside the newly opened George and the Dragon is considerable, but the people in it, even those in the midst of a 45-minute wait, are smiling, window-shopping, and promising their shin-guard-wearing offspring that they can have root beer with dinner (Frost Top is on tap here). Much like the villagers of Silene, the people of Lynnhurst have long been restless, waiting for their hero to arrive in restaurant form. Since the 2010 fire that destroyed Heidi's and Blackbird, two well-loved eateries that made this area a destination for sophisticated dining, the block has been gathering strength, and George and the Dragon's owner, Fred Navarro, has been at the center of its resuscitation. It's not an exact parallel, but Navarro is sort of the George of his own restaurant, tasked with converting the people of Lynnhurst to a more casual, more kid-friendly, more deeply fried way of life. Maybe that's too weak a metaphor, but George most certainly inspired the menu, which is filled with traditional English pub fare and a few Navarro family favorites.

Family is a big thing here. When Navarro brings groups of parents and young kids to their tables for brunch, he points out a shelf full of books, games, and toys they can play with while they wait for their buttermilk pancakes (made from Grandpa Murphy's recipe) or cinnamon French toast. "That was my son's idea," says Navarro, pointing to his long-haired mini-me posted up at the bar with a soda and a pal, looking every inch the restaurant regular. "That's why we call it Paco's Corner."

Benjamin Carter Grimes

Location Info

Map

George & the Dragon

813 W. 50th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Category: Restaurant > Bar Food

Region: Southwest Minneapolis

Details

Appetizers $3-$8; entrees $8-$15

As far as food goes, there's plenty of kid-friendly fare, including a decently juicy classic burger made with Meyer's natural beef, mac and cheese (tomato and bacon are optional add-ins), and fish and chips with the perfect fish-to-batter ratio, nicely salted, and crispy but with a dreamy dissolving effect. Maybe your kids won't appreciate them for all those reasons, but you will if you can snag one from their plate. Also kid-approved and worth ordering (at brunch only) are the beignets, another family recipe. They are a little denser and more cakey than the ones at Cafe Du Monde, but still pretty irresistible. Made to order, they come to the table warm with a layer of slightly hardened powdered sugar, and the cottony centers are best with a spot of homemade strawberry jam.

On the more adult side, the beer selection, while not vast, is well balanced between local brews and English imports. Fulton, Brau Brothers, Summit, and Lift Bridge are all represented, along with across-the-pond favorites Old Speckled Hen (still somewhat of a rarity on tap) and Young's double chocolate stout. All wines are available by the glass and bottle, and for teetotalers there's homemade ginger ale — a nice option, but don't expect the sharp, almost medicinal spice of something like Reed's. This is fresh-tasting but much more mild.

Though traditional English pub menus often include a curry or other Indian dish, George and the Dragon injects more of the flavors of Asia and the Pacific Rim, with items like a banh mi sandwich, a daily changing curry, and pub wings with a sweet soy glaze. There's also lumpia, which is essentially the Filipino version of a fried spring roll. It wasn't anything overly exciting but made a serviceable bar snack. The most successful Asian-influenced dish on the menu is one of Navarro's favorites, the Asian Hangover. It takes already richly flavored, fatty, and falling apart Compart pork, sort of the quality equivalent of Angus beef, and exoticizes it with cloves, Sichuan pepper, cinnamon, fennel, and star anise. Add to that thin, snappy garlic green beans and a perfect over-easy fried egg on a bed of fragrant jasmine rice and you have a brunch, lunch, or dinner that packs as much punch as your previous night out.

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2 comments
Lindsey Sheppard
Lindsey Sheppard

We had a great time here! The environment is warm and welcoming. A modern twist on an old world style pub. It calls for ordering a beer for sure. Beer list includes local favorites and some unique imports. The wings were delicious and crispy and the curry perfect. We will be back very soon.

Morchellampls
Morchellampls

I visited George and the Dragon recently with a group of friends. The room was so loud and echo-y that soon I had a pounding headache and had to leave. Granted, most of the noise was coming from my friendsfriends, but, still I am not a fan of the trend of loud restaurants.

 
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