The Grand Tradition Estate – it’s a piece of paradise with not so secret gardens. Within the estate, a noble Victorian-style structure, the Beverly Mansion, perched on a grassy hill, is the setting for the new Veranda restaurant where guests enjoy alfresco dining overlooking a serene lake. As diners relax, a crowd of pleasant scents swirl around the tables – flowers, fresh grass, and even an occasional whiff of tropical fruit.
Guests not only savor the enchanting ambiance, but are able to choose from an array of delightful menu items developed by the staff and offered at extremely reasonable prices.
Like everything else that is done at the Grand Tradition, it is done in style. White linen-draped tables line the veranda and gleaming china and fresh flowers grace every table lending their own bit of charm.
The menu is a garden of creative luncheon choices including appetizers, sandwiches and salads.
The Spinach and Berry salad is beguiling! Served on a bed of spinach – it’s laden with large raspberries and blackberries along with strawberries and feta cheese. Candied pecans and raspberry vinaigrette dressing add a burst of sweet flavor – taking it to a realm beyond ordinary salad. ]
The Garden Docent sandwich, a fresh-from-the-garden choice, is made with whole grain bread stacked high with avocado, sprouts, cucumber, tomato, lettuce and Swiss cheese. Buttered with herb and chive cream cheese, the sandwich is reminiscent of high tea in London.
The Veranda chefs have taken iceberg lettuce from boring to bold with their “Wedge” salad enhanced with tomato, blue cheese crumbles, and delicate green onions. The apple wood smoked bacon enhances the mélange with a smoky flavor and blue cheese dressing adds a tangy element.
A menu choice that could be easily misunderstood is the Estate Burger. This is no ordinary hamburger! The chefs marinate tri-tips then grind them daily to make a unique and flavorful hamburger meat. Try this burger with the Veranda’s house-made potato chips. These chips are artfully sliced from fresh potatoes.
Veranda guest Eleanor Bristol had this to say about the chips, “They are the best I’ve ever tasted – crisp, light and delicious!”
Can Egg Rolls be enchanting? At the Veranda they can! Stuffed with shrimp, cabbage, finely shredded carrots, and mushrooms, the rolls are then cooked and drizzled with a sweet chili sauce. Don’t be scared off by the chili sauce, it only has a bit of a bite to it.
Pea Salad is another dish that might induce a yawn or two anywhere else but at the Veranda, peas, feta cheese, bell peppers and celery blend in a provocative concoction. This is only one of the many recipes that can be attributed to Beverly McDougal, who built the estate along with her husband, Earl.
One of the secrets to The Veranda’s fresh tasting food is a full acre’s worth of gardens and groves where, during various seasons, strawberries, watermelon, corn, squash, peppers and even edible flowers are grown. Their secret to fresh avocados all year is a wide variety of avocado trees. Not all trees produce fruit at the same time of year.
Don McDougal, son of Beverly and Earl, attributes the restaurant’s success to determination, hard work and an adherence to high standards.
The Grand Tradition Estate opened in May 1984. Don noted that his parents bought the property when no one else wanted it because it had a swamp in the middle. But, the McDougals didn’t see the swamp as a detriment – they just pushed forward and turned it into a magnificent lake.
As a home economics teacher, Beverly was adept at cooking, and thus the idea of a food-related event business was born. The McDougals were so bent on perfection that the couple even worked on pieces of the railings, molding and trim at night in their garage.
“A lot of TLC went into the design,” said Don, “they believed in it and the rest is history.”
For twenty-eight years the Grand Tradition had been reserved for special events, but then the idea of expanding the already outstanding gardens was born. The enhanced gardens, which now include Mediterranean, tropical and Victorian influences, were designed by Don and Pat McDougal’s son, Mark. The gardens were completed in the summer and the Veranda opened on September 17.
Nothing will melt away the grind of a hectic day more than a relaxing tour of Grand Tradition’s soothing gardens followed by a delightful lunch at the Veranda’s idyllic setting.
Because of limited space, reservations are required for lunch, which is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Veranda restaurant is located at 220 Grand Tradition Way in Fallbrook, Calif. Find more information at www.grandtradition.com or call (760) 728-6466 for reservations. For public garden tour information please visit
Nathalie, a multiple-award winning writer, holds a BA degree in English from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Her areas of expertise include features, restaurant reviews and travel.