Posted in Mpls/St Paul Magazine on July 1st, 2012.
The funny little thing about gastropubs is that we all still seem to struggle to define them. We are happily overjoyed that people are endeavoring to open neighborhood bars with better-than-average menus, but what makes a pub a gastropub? For example, although it has been implied, somehow Butcher & the Boar seems to have too far refined a reach, while Buster’s on 28th and Pat’s Tap easily make the cut. There’s something about the neighborhood vibe and the cool-cat cheekiness to the menu and beer list that courts the gastropub label. So you’d think that George & the Dragon would fit right in, wouldn’t you?
Truth be told, I’m not sure. The original gastropubs were solid improvements on your average bar, giving menus a push past a drinker’s repast into an eater’s feast, as if Liquor Lyle’s started serving grass-fed burgers with Sriracha sauce. But we eaters tend to get excited and, as a habit, keep pushing. It feels like the expectations are getting amped up by chefs and eaters, to the point where it has become almost MORE about the food and how far it can be tweaked than it is about the pub. And here’s my thing: George & the Dragon feels more like a real pub—not an average bar, but a real pub.
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