With a brief announcement on their Instagram account earlier this month, Chef Brian Ashness and his team launched Green Dragon, a new weekend pop-up restaurant concept based inside Midtown Oyster Bar.
Ashness is currently the Executive Chef at Surf Club, Midtown Oyster Bar’s sister restaurant.
Green Dragon quietly began offering Chinese food for take-out on November 6th. We had a chance to talk with Ashness about all the details on the restaurant’s opening and menu. Here’s what he said.
Are the current hours and take-out format long term? Is the menu static or does it change?
Our current hours are Thursday through Sunday, from 4 pm to 9 pm. If the good folks of Aquidneck Island enjoy it so much that there is a huge demand for what we are doing, we will absolutely expand the days and hours. The menu will slowly evolve as we become more comfortable with what we are doing and receive our guests’ feedback.
What is/are the inspiration(s) behind the concept and food?
We had extra kitchen space, and we weren’t sure what to do with it. Someone brought up the idea of a “Ghost Kitchen,” a take-out only restaurant. At the same time, our team had been hearing a common complaint; there wasn’t any great Chinese food on the island. With those ideas in mind, we started to think about the concept. We began to make some nostalgic Chinese dishes but reimagined them with fresh and new ingredients in some cases. After a few iterations and a few inches added to our waistline, we thought we had some delicious food. We decided to see if Newport agreed.
What’s the story behind the name Green Dragon?
Naming the new concept wasn’t as easy as you might think. We wanted a name that communicated what we were doing but also meshed with our other establishments. We started talking about how each restaurant has a mythological creature associated with it. Midtown has the Heraldry Dolphin in its logo. Surf Club has the Mermaid in the martini glass on the cover of its menus. Someone had said, how about a dragon for the new concept, and it just stuck.
How does operating within Midtown Oyster Bar work?
It has its unique challenges, the biggest being that people aren’t sure where we are. We are a restaurant in a restaurant. We have our own phone number, website, and kitchen space. But to pick up your food, you have to go to the host stand inside the Midtown Oyster Bar. We only do take out, and we do not offer the menu to Midtown guests.
What have been the most popular dishes?
So far, the pork dumplings have been the most popular item. We serve them with a drizzle of Szechuan hot oil and a soy vinaigrette sauce for dipping. Another early favorite is the Crab Rangoon made with real crabmeat, cream cheese, fresh scallions, and fresh-squeezed lime juice.
What are your favorite dishes to make?
Spicy Beef & Noodles!! And that’s because it’s my favorite to eat! It’s marinated flank steak sautéed with onions and fresh egg noodles and then tossed with Szechuan peppercorns and chili oil. After, it’s topped with house spices and toasted sesame seeds. So good!!
What dish(es) would you recommend for a cold winter night?
In addition to the Spicy Beef & Noodles, I’d recommend the Hot & Sour Soup. It’s an incredibly complex soup that’s sweet, acidic, hot (both in taste and temperature), earthy, and rich. It’s a far cry from the gelatinous version you might expect.
You can place take-out orders with Green Dragon on their website Thursday-Sunday. Pick-up only.