Feeling rather political, J. the fiancé, Madge and I decided to pay tribute to the upcoming G8 summit in Edinburgh, Scotland by having something to eat from the British Isles. Since there are no haggis shops in Phoenix (and, no, I dont want to know if there are), we decided to find someplace that served something British, English, etc.
Of course, there is always this deer-in-the-headlights look when you mention the words British cuisine, but I do have fond memories of a wonderful chicken pie creation with roasted potatoes and minted peas at this little pub near Hampton Court outside of London. French it is not, but it does have its purpose and it can be tasty.
So, we figured we would head over to George and Dragon on Central Avenue in Phoenix for a filling meal. The place has been there many years now and is more pub than restaurant, but we threw caution to the wind and barreled inside looking for a place to sit.
The interior of the place is split into two sections. The larger pub section is near the main entrances and has booths, tables and bar seating. The decorations seem more Scottish than British, but there are plenty of flags and lots of advertisements for British ale. The smaller section is a dining room with lots of pictures of royalty and a nice set up at the tables with tablecloths, wine glasses, cloth napkins, etc. We opted for the dining room as the pub section was loud and boisterous and smoky.
We took our seats and had a very pleasant server provide us menus. It was a good-sized menu with lunch and dinner selections. We reviewed the contents and our server asked for our drink order. In rapid succession, we all opted for a Snakebite ($4.95) which is a pint glass filled half with ale and half with cider. I also ordered an iced tea while J. stuck with water and Madge got a Diet Pepsi.
About 10 minutes later our Snakebites arrived. These were very refreshing and different. The cider took the bite off the ale and added a bit of sweetness. We enjoy them, but Madge noted that they could have used a bit more cider. J. and I concurred. Still, they were gone in minutes.
We finally decided on our dinner selections. We talked J. out of the Steak and Kidney Pie ($9.95) and into the Steak and Mushroom Pie ($9.95). Madge and I opted for the Shepherds Pie ($9.95). We also decided to add a dinner salad to each order.
Our salads were out in a few minutes. Each oval plate contained a sizable assortment of iceberg and romaine lettuce along with a carrot chip, a cucumber slice, a red onion slice and a small cup of dressing on the side. Thankfully, the salads were not swimming in water. The vegetables and lettuce were crisp and fresh. Our only complaint was the amount of dressing. The little cup provided did not offer enough dressing to cover the amount of greens. It was easily rectified, however, as the server was more than happy to bring us extra dressing.
Next out were our entrees. Madge and I were quite pleased with our selections. The Shepherds Pie was in an elongated baking dish. The top of the dish was a large helping of mashed potatoes with a nice amount of sharp cheddar cheese melted on top. Underneath the potatoes and cheese was a very good stew-like beef mixture. The beef was minced and combined with wonderfully rich gravy. I also detected some Guiness. Along with the pie was a very soft and warm roll, butter and a small garnish. We also requested some HP sauce, which is a savory/sweet steak sauce, but when I was in London, people used it on everything. Also alongside the pie was a cup of brown gravy. It was nothing special, as far as brown gravies go, but it did pair up well with the potatoes. It was a substantial dish of basic staples.
J. really enjoyed the Steak and Mushroom Pie. A thick stew of beef chunks, mushrooms and Guiness gravy were spooned onto a plate and then a big puff pastry shell was placed on top. Accompanying J.s pie was a serving of peas and a nice amount of steak fries, as well as the roll and garnish. J. also liked the HP sauce.
We found our meals hot, fresh and tasty. It was a decent meal. But afterwards, Madge decided that she had to have dessert. She already knew what she wanted. Madge loves the gingerbread and currant bread-like cake called Spotted Dick ($4.95). She likes the dish heated and then covered with custard. She ordered it and moments later was notified that the kitchen was out of it. So, Madge opted for the bread pudding with custard sauce ($4.95). Nope. That was gone as well. So, Madge gave up.
Madge did note that she had been to the George and Dragon several times before and the dessert issue always seems to be ongoing. We all opted to simply skip dessert, which wasnt so terrible as I had baked a homemade Pineapple Upside Down Cake that was waiting for us back at the house.
We got out bill ($55.62 including tax), settled the score and left. The pub was still jumping, but the dining room was vacant.
All in all, we had a pleasant experience at George and Dragon. The dessert problem was a bit of a downer for the evening. (You dont want a cranky Madge on your hands.) I, too, have been to the George and Dragon on a few past occasions and the problems do indeed seem to be the dessert and the often spotty service. However, the entrees have always been very good, fresh and hot. The Bangers and Mash ($9.95) are outstanding, albeit mild, and the Fish & Chips ($9.95) are also quite good.
The kitchen is not going to win any awards, but it does provide some good British dishes worthy of a try. The pub is clearly the main focus and you can get some great ales and stouts (many on tap).
If you are looking for a good, hearty, basic meal, I can recommend George and Dragon, despite a couple of problems.
Alas, I guess I will have to get my imaginary haggis fix somewhere else.
George and Dragon
4240 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85013