Paige Latham Didora
[have you tried?] George and the Dragon
[have you tried?] features a small glimpse at the under-appreciated brew, a neighborhood gem, an oldie but goodie, a new classic, or an often overlooked treat.
Nestled away in the former Heidi’s / Blackbird space in south Minneapolis is a neighborhood gem that doesn’t get enough press. I’m sure the locals like it that way, but I’m blowing the cover.
If you drive by during the dinner hour, you can’t miss it – there is a fairly constant line happily waiting outside. On the other hand, if you drive by during closing hours, it is easy to overlook.
What is so special about this place, and why is it a palpably different experience? The restaurant is named after the story book, in honor of the owners’ son, and owner Fred Navarro has created a family-friendly pub that embraces childhood without watering itself down. The result is something spectacular.
I hate the phrase “family-friendly”. What it almost always means is “kid-friendly” while leaving little for adults to enjoy. But this is not the case at George and the Dragon – the food is traditional British fare with several intercontinental and modern twists and many kid favorites. While Frost Top Root Beer is available on draft, so are several amazing beers. It is a true gathering place for all ages.
I witnessed the inter-generational appreciation of George and the Dragon when I ran into my friend Robert while drinking my Boom Island Hoodoo Dubbel at the bar. His two boys sat patiently on a bench waiting for their table, contently reading books from the restaurant’s library while Robert raved to me about the menu. He explained to me that they eat here all the time, and it was hard for me to discern who enjoys the food more – him or the boys.
Per bartender Mr. Miller’s suggestion, I went with the special, the Hoisin Stew. Having gotten over my fear of eating out alone (I actually love it now), I brought along the Variety Section for some entertainment and joined in on the reading. My parents still get a paper and pass along beer-related material to me – in this case, an article on making beer runs to Wisconsin on Sundays.
The popularity of the place is its only drawback; though the place didn’t seem overly packed when I arrived, there were no more bar stools so my first bites were taken standing up. Worth it.
George and the Dragon is worth more than a visit. It deserves mentioning to all your friends with kids, your friends who love beer, and your friends who love classic children’s stories. Or, most appropriately, your kid-toting friends who love beer and a good book.