Chilled oasis of good ales and food at the centre of Croydon

ANDREW LENG was only passing by the busy Green Dragon. He was glad that he paused for a pint and a burger

Green Dragon pub signThe Green Dragon pub sits next to Surrey Street Market and I’d always known the place for its youthful clientele and its especially busy Friday evenings.

The wait to be served could be frustratingly long at times, elbows digging into your side and the odd drop of beer spilling on to your shoes and clothes as apologetic punters attempted to make best use of the space available to manoeuvre past. It was usually worth the wait.

The pub’s success was due in no small part to the hard work of its land lady, Esther Sutton. Sutton left the pub in the summer of 2013 to take on the task of reviving the Oval Tavern. How, then, has the Green Dragon fared since?

On an early weekday evening, the signs don’t look good. The pub’s fairly empty, but within an hour and after I’ve drunk a couple of pints and eaten a burger, a steady stream of people have trickled in, the atmosphere and the noise is picking up. This is more like the place that I remember.

The Green Dragon has been a regular entry in the annual Good Beer Guide published by the Campaign for Real Ale. It was the Croydon and Sutton CAMRA pub in 2008. Before the killjoys at the Tory-run Croydon Council cancelled the Croydon Festival (and Mela), the Green Dragon did a nice line in publicity and had a stall at these festivals to sell beer from a couple of barrels and to promote the pub and the various events that it hosts.

It is a large premises, a former corner-site bank built in the grand red-brick style which matches the Town Hall across the way, with its main bar downstairs. It has a large display of beer pump clips adorning the walls. There is a large room upstairs, too, which is used to host lunchtime jazz and comedy evenings, as well as private functions. The Green Dragon has also run the occasional beer festival and has subsequently become a firm favourite for pub-goers in Croydon.

The pub’s own publicity states that, “Through the day, the atmosphere is chilled and friendly – there is plenty to do, with board games, books on the shelves and a pool table… At the weekend, the vibe is livelier, with our DJs playing a fabulous eclectic mix, with something to please everyone”.

There are usually six beers on hand pull, which are priced at £3.15. I home in on the Dark Star “Seville” and the Hammerpot “Martlet”, which wins me over immediately. I rarely see Hammerpot outside Sussex and the coastal towns of the south-east, so won’t pass up this n opportunity. I am served by a very pleasant member of staff, resplendent in their Green Dragon polo shirt, who says “Enjoy your drink,” as I pay. Friendly service with a smile.

"Mmmm..." as Samuel Jackson might say

“Mmmm” as Samuel Jackson might say

The “Seville” turns out to be a very nice pint of beer, with a subtle aftertaste of Orange. “Seville” is Dark Star’s first fruit beer and on this evidence a pretty neat move into brewing this type of ale. It doesn’t take too long for me to empty my glass.

Feeling hungry, I look at the menu. It is typical pub fare with burgers, fish and chips, grills and sandwiches. The pub also serves a limited range of set meals for £9.45 and there’s also a half-price food offer which operates on Tuesdays. I settle for the Classic Burger and go and order this from the bar, while I am getting the pint of “Martlet”. The “Martlet” reminds me why I like beer from the Hammerpot Brewery. It’s a golden ale and nice and hoppy; at 3.6% it’s a good session beer.

Ten minutes later my meal is brought to my table. The burger is served on a wooden platter with a small bowl of piping-hot chips. As I’m tucking into my food I’m reminded of the lines spoken by Samuel Jackson’s character Jules Winfield in Pulp Fiction “Mmmm… This is a tasty burger!”

Meal finished and “Martlet” drunk, I’m fed and watered – it’s time to go.

The Green Dragon is not a pub that I go to that often. If I’m out that way I don’t usually get as further than the Dog and Bull. However, the Dragon’s beer is very well kept and the food is really nice, so maybe I won’t leave it so long next time. “Chilled and friendly”, just about sums the place up.

Previous pub reviews by Andrew Leng:

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