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Meh

Lunch at Green Dragon Tavern & Museum

These Pretzel Bites are stupid good.
These Pretzel Bites are stupid good.

A year and a half ago I attended a special dining event at Green Dragon Tavern & Museum, and I’d been meaning to get back to sample from the regular menu. But, because it's all the way on the other side of the county, it took me a while (and a meeting even further north) to get there. There’s no better time to drive up the coast than Spring, or what I call “flower season,” especially when Carlsbad, land of the flower fields, is the destination.

Place

Green Dragon Tavern & Museum

6115 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad

In the middle of the day and week, the Green Dragon is tame. Most of our fellow diners looked like coworkers out for their lunch breaks. David, my perpetual plus-one, and I started with a cocktail and some pretzel bites. David was disappointed in his Old Fashioned ($9), and after having a sip, so was I. Despite the list of spirits, the default was apparently a harsh well whisky, and the garnishes were pub fare. Fortunately, my Blackberry Bourbon ($9) was a Barb-pleaser, and had it not been for the long drive back home, I probably would have had another.

New England Chicken Salad

The pretzel bites were glorious. They were served piping hot, with a shiny, close-to-crisp crust surrounding fresh and soft dough. Served with a smoked porter mustard and jalapeño cheese sauce, each bite was so rich and satisfying we could have made a meal of them by ordering another batch. I’d go back just for a beer and some of those pretzel bites.

A disappointing version of a classic cocktail

If the pretzel bites were pleasurable, I’d have to describe the entrees as satisfactory. They just sort of “were.” I got the New England Chicken Salad ($14), a chop-style salad with grilled chicken breast, romaine, spinach, dried cranberry, goat cheese, and candied pecans served with a champagne vinaigrette.

David's so-so Shepherd's Pie.

The vinaigrette was on the tart side, so I mostly did without that (and was glad to have asked for it on the side). The classic mixture of goat cheese, candied pecans, and cranberries was as earthy, creamy, chewy, sweet, and crunchy as you’d expect that to be, but the chicken was on the dry side. There seemed to be plenty of “there” there, and yet the whole experience of eating it was simply, “okay.”

David opted for the lunch special, Shepherd’s Pie with a green salad ($10.95), a smaller offering of the dinnertime Shepherd’s Pie dish. He found it mostly bland, but better with salt. After he’d finished and I asked how he’d enjoyed his meal, David shrugged, “It was okay.” Perhaps the problem was starting our meal with the pretzel bites. After that, everything was just meh.

There were several other items on the menu and dishes we saw at other tables that piqued our interest. We agreed we’d have to be back up to try them.

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These Pretzel Bites are stupid good.
These Pretzel Bites are stupid good.

A year and a half ago I attended a special dining event at Green Dragon Tavern & Museum, and I’d been meaning to get back to sample from the regular menu. But, because it's all the way on the other side of the county, it took me a while (and a meeting even further north) to get there. There’s no better time to drive up the coast than Spring, or what I call “flower season,” especially when Carlsbad, land of the flower fields, is the destination.

Place

Green Dragon Tavern & Museum

6115 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad

In the middle of the day and week, the Green Dragon is tame. Most of our fellow diners looked like coworkers out for their lunch breaks. David, my perpetual plus-one, and I started with a cocktail and some pretzel bites. David was disappointed in his Old Fashioned ($9), and after having a sip, so was I. Despite the list of spirits, the default was apparently a harsh well whisky, and the garnishes were pub fare. Fortunately, my Blackberry Bourbon ($9) was a Barb-pleaser, and had it not been for the long drive back home, I probably would have had another.

New England Chicken Salad

The pretzel bites were glorious. They were served piping hot, with a shiny, close-to-crisp crust surrounding fresh and soft dough. Served with a smoked porter mustard and jalapeño cheese sauce, each bite was so rich and satisfying we could have made a meal of them by ordering another batch. I’d go back just for a beer and some of those pretzel bites.

A disappointing version of a classic cocktail

If the pretzel bites were pleasurable, I’d have to describe the entrees as satisfactory. They just sort of “were.” I got the New England Chicken Salad ($14), a chop-style salad with grilled chicken breast, romaine, spinach, dried cranberry, goat cheese, and candied pecans served with a champagne vinaigrette.

David's so-so Shepherd's Pie.

The vinaigrette was on the tart side, so I mostly did without that (and was glad to have asked for it on the side). The classic mixture of goat cheese, candied pecans, and cranberries was as earthy, creamy, chewy, sweet, and crunchy as you’d expect that to be, but the chicken was on the dry side. There seemed to be plenty of “there” there, and yet the whole experience of eating it was simply, “okay.”

David opted for the lunch special, Shepherd’s Pie with a green salad ($10.95), a smaller offering of the dinnertime Shepherd’s Pie dish. He found it mostly bland, but better with salt. After he’d finished and I asked how he’d enjoyed his meal, David shrugged, “It was okay.” Perhaps the problem was starting our meal with the pretzel bites. After that, everything was just meh.

There were several other items on the menu and dishes we saw at other tables that piqued our interest. We agreed we’d have to be back up to try them.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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