First off, no, there is no such thing as unlimited libation at Golden Road Brewing. But I just couldn’t resist making the painfully obvious Grateful Dead reference. Especially because there was nothing at all Grateful Dead about the brewery. As one of the few microbreweries in LA, Golden Road resides in a sketchy part of Glendale and is kind of personifies a blend of collar and hipster, at least in decor and architecture. The food menu tries to bridge that gap as well, but leans heavier on the latter than the former, with a frightening number of vegan menu items and a couple of sandwiches to scare any blue collar visitors back to the smelting plant.
Yet, despite the scary parts of the menu, I was excited to try out the brewery. I started with a glass of “Either Side of the Hill,” an amber beer (methinks) that tasted pretty nice. To go with the beer, my dining companion had ordered one of their giant Bavarian-style pretzels, which came with spicy Dijon mustard. For an extra buck, I added pimento cheese dip to the mix. On the menu, the pretzel was listed as vegan. I had previously thought that all pretzels were vegan until I was reminded of lard, and as soon as I realized that, the pretzel went downhill in my mind. Rather than a complaint, though, this is a testament to the fact that I didn’t realize anything was missing until I was told. Nonetheless, while lard would have improved the pretzel, it was also over salted and a bit dry (perhaps due to the lard). The pimento dip really came through, though, and made the pretzel pretty awesome.
We followed up the pretzel by splitting two sandwiches. The first was the Sloppy Joseph, made with stout-braised beef short ribs, fried shallots and house made BBQ sauce. Like I said…not exactly your blue collar sandwich, but certainly fit for an unvegan. In truth, they probably could have called this the Joseph or simply their BBQ Short Rib sandwich, as there was nothing sloppy about this sandwich. Yet, it made up for the misnomer by being delicious. The meat was tender and juicy, while the fried shallots added a bit of crunch to the sandwich without any intrusive flavor. I was quite happy with it and looked forward to our second sandwich.
But the excitement soon faded. We had ordered the Duck Confit sandwich, which was said to come with cranberry orange compote and herbed goat cheese, but Golden Road had decided to destroy this unvegan delight by stuffing two salads worth of lettuce in the roll. It made for a really uncomfortable situation that killed about five minutes of my life as I removed all unwanted visitors from my sandwich. By the time I was done, I really hoped this sandwich was worth it. Sadly, it was not. The duck had been pounded and rolled into an texture-less blob of meat that made Taco Bell ground beef feel like a filet mignon. There was flavor in there, but really not enough to justify the $12 price tag.
So while the menu was not ideal, I do hold out hope that Golden Road can see the light or at least light the way for more microbreweries to come. Their hipster-blue collar blend came together well with the Sloppy Joseph, but that and pretzel don’t make a menu worth returning for. Especially with all the terrible vegan dishes. I like what they are going for with beer and wish them the best with food, but if I go back it will be for a drink and not an eat.