Have you seen the confusingly massive colonial-style building looming over Interstate 5 in Carlsbad? That's the Green Dragon Tavern & Museum, a new outpost of dining and Revolutionary War curiosities in a town better known for suntans and Legoland. It's a bit of a head-scratching combination, but I do applaud the intention of connecting our corner of the country to our friends back in the original 13.
Don't bother trying to get much helpful information from the website—it's terrible, with slow-to-be-updated info ("Opening for Dinner on February 12, 2014"!). What it won't tell you is that it's now serving weekend brunch.
Even though it was a soon-to-be-sunny Sunday morning outside, it was so nice to be cozily tucked next to a roaring—albeit gas-powered—fire. The sprawling, smells-like-knew complex (6115 Paseo del Norte) does have a bit of a Disneyesque feel, perhaps because of its odd San Diego County locale. This is not the old, small and dark Green Dragon Tavern in Boston upon which this version is inspired. By the way, the "original" Green Dragon in Boston no longer has the same walls in which the seeds of the Revolution were planted—that location was destroyed in 1854.
Like any good brunch place, you'll find mimosas, as well as something called a "beermosa," which is as sweet and gross as it sounds. Light beer and orange juice? It was not quite the sophisticated shandy we hoped it would be. My intrepid, beer-swilling fireman of a husband gave it a try, shook his head in dismay and then went ahead and finished it anyway, because, you know, beer.
The menu has plenty of nods to New England, including a few different takes on the classic lobster roll. "The Patriot" is a tasty twist on the classic, with tender, chilled chunks of lobster on a sweet brioche roll, mixed with diced celery and bound by a yummy lemon anchovy aioli. There's a "California" version with dried mango, avocado, bacon and cilantro, which I'm sure makes your average Mainer feel itchy and indignant, but I love a good twist on a classic.
They do solid if unexciting versions of many favorites: French onion soup, clam chowder and my personal obsession, eggs Benedict. I'm still looking for my Benedict nirvana, but the Green Dragon does crank out an exceptionally buttery hollandaise, which always puts a smile on my face.
Steer clear of the biscuits and gravy; the sausage needed more spice and salt to complement the sweeter biscuits. This particular combo came off as too cloying.
For a sweet taste that doesn't disappoint, go for the apple hand pie, a doughy, delicious turnover with gooey apples, homemade vanilla ice cream and a salted caramel sauce. Delightfully American.
The Green Dragon remains a bit of a conundrum to me. The curated collection in the museum is small, though fun to peruse for history buffs. It's a lovely, somewhat sterile locale that doesn't know what it wants to be quite yet. Though not what I'd call a culinary destination, it's more on track with the food than it is with facts about the Founding Fathers.