Monday, April 30, 2012

Lunch at Yard House: First impressions

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Inside Yard House

In a word? OMG. Ok, technically that's three words, but in the spirit of Yard House's guiding principle, the more the merrier.

The bound book of a menu at Yard House is unlike anything our small lunch party had ever seen: page after page after page of dishes. So many dishes that the small printed columns began to run together in a blur. Seriously, take every family chain restaurant in America and roll them all into one; the result is Yard House. Pizza Margherita, Roasted Turkey Cobb, Chilled Edamame, Blue Crab Cakes, Onion Ring Tower, Korean BBQ, Spicy Jambalaya, Truffle Fries, Porcini Crusted Halibut, Deviled Eggs, and Mushu Egg Rolls. There are hundreds of choices. Burgers, sliders, sandwiches, soups, 16 different salads, 14 "meatless" meat dishes for vegetarians, and if that weren't enough, a separate menu insert for their trendy Street Tacos. Oh, and they had a special fish of the day, salmon or something.

Not gonna lie, it took us about 15 minutes, and several check-ins from our spirited server, to figure out what to order. For starters, Deviled Eggs ($2.95) topped with spicy tomato sauce, sweet chili sauce, and minced chives. Living in a city where great Deviled Eggs can be found at some of the best restaurants in town (Bocado, JCT., Holeman & Finch), we had high hopes. Unfortunately, these runny, saucy egg halves did not measure up, the flavor dominated only by a generic sweet chili sauce.

Grilled Sweet Korean BBQ Beef
  • Grilled Sweet Korean BBQ Beef

Next up, the Grilled Sweet Korean BBQ Beef ($12.85) appetizer: marinated boneless short ribs over jasmine rice. The dish could pass for an entrée, but other than that, the beef was tender with a touch of Teriyaki-style sweetness. The only things missing were the charred, carbony bits that usually offset the sweet nature of the dish.

More after the jump

  • (Mac+Cheese)²
For an entrée, and as per a passionate recommendation from our server, the (Mac+Cheese)²($11.25/$16.55). This "kicked-up-a-notch" version is comprised of chicken breast, bacon, wild mushrooms, cheddar, parmesan, campanelle pasta, and truffle oil. Normally a sucker for the alluring aroma of truffle oil, this combination with cheddar cheese and bacon clashed more than complemented. It's the kind of dish that tastes better in your imagination than in real life.

Chicken Enchilada Stack
  • Chicken Enchilada Stack

Last up was the Chicken Enchilada Stack ($16.15); a generous serving of pasilla peppers, garlic cream, jack cheese, corn tortillas, pinto beans, tomatillo, red chili sauce, and sour cream. The Chicken Enchilada Stack appeared promising, resembling a plate of Chilaquiles. But there was no textural contrast to be found, the tortillas provided no chewy crunch. And for all the sauce on the plate, it's amazing that the dish still seemed to lack flavor, an issue that could have been easily remedied, perhaps, with a little salt. (Check out that rad tomatillo garnish...)

Possibly eclipsing the sprawling food menu, is Yard House's beer selection/theatrics. Lotsa beer here. The island bar is lined with taps, some local varieties some not so local. Tracing the lines of beer from the taps, along the ceiling, and into the barrel room is entertaining. Yard House also offers various sizes of beer, a beer for every occasion, if you will. The smallest pour, a 'shorty,' is 5 oz., a 'goblet' gives you 12, next is the traditional 16 oz. pint, and finally, a 32 oz. half-yard. You can also opt for a six-pack which includes six different 5 oz. pours.

Yard House is a restaurant anomaly. The food is what it is. Behind all the gussied up menu descriptions lies a collection of dishes designed to have mass appeal. In that sense, Atlantic Station is the perfect place for a corporate operation like Yard House. Does Yard House merit a solo trip to Atlantic Station? For most of the city's foodists, probably not. But if you're in the area, it's a nice oasis for thirsty shoppers or weary journalists in need of a beer.

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