By Nick Manteris · 0 Comments · Leave a Comment
The first Yardhouse restaurant was in Long Beach, California. The concept proved to be rather popular and they now have multiple locations across California, several in Arizona, a couple in both Texas and Florida and a handful in other states. There are even two locations in Las Vegas: one can be found at Red Rock Resort and the other – the subject of this review – resides at Town Square.
We visited on a Friday night and the hostess mentioned that it was slow as she ushered us to a table, but the place seemed fairly busy to me. Not as super-crazy as it gets on some nights, but certainly not "slow." Our server answered multiple questions from us and also offered several suggestions... he was very helpful. I started with the Seared Ahi Sashimi as my appetizer and a (mostly-average) glass of Merryvale Starmont, a Napa Valley Chardonnay (color: 5/10, smell: 12/20, taste: 12/20 = 29 out of 50 possible points.) The Ahi was lightly blackened, according to the description, but it had an unexpected smoky taste… it wasn’t bad, just unlike any seared tuna that I’ve had in the past and not what I’ve come to expect from blackened fish. The pepper in the sauce was the highlight of the appetizer. I also tried one tiny bite of the Hawaiian Poke Stack, which had a really nice spice to it. (Speaking of bites: the croutons in the salad were also surprisingly good.)
For the main course I ordered a glass of Shoofly Shiraz (color: 5/10, smell: 11/20, taste: 8/20 = 24 out of 50) and the St. Louis Style Ribs. The wine turned out to be very slightly below average, but the food balanced this out by being better than expected. I’ve learned that the word “spicy” does not actually mean “spicy” when it is used on the West Coast. You can imagine my (very pleasant) surprise then, when the “spicy beans” and the “spicy BBQ sauce” that I ordered both contained some peppery goodness. The beans were cooked with jalepeño and the flavor and spiciness complemented the beans rather well, but the sweetness of the dish could easily be a dealbreaker for some. (I thought they were great, but two of my companions felt they were way too sweet.) The creamed corn had a “country” taste that reminded me of real corn (as opposed to canned corn) and some other slight flavoring that I was never able to place. The corn was much sweeter than the beans, however, and it was obviously made for lovers of candy and children that don’t like corn. The ribs were very tasty and they came out with very little sauce on them, but a bowl of BBQ sauce was provided so that customers can apply the proper amount themselves. The sauce itself was spicy with a great flavor and it was easily better than every other BBQ sauce I’ve tasted since moving to Vegas over three years ago.
One of the steaks at our table came out overcooked and needed to be sent back. The manager stopped by the table shortly afterwards to alleviate the unpleasantness of this experience. (An interesting sidenote: two of my friends ordered the same steak and one of them substituted a side, so – counting the steak that was sent back to the kitchen – we saw this dish come out three times. All three of these plates were markedly different… enough to be completely separate dishes.)
We tried a couple other wines during this meal: Septima, a Malbec from Argentina (score at right) and 337, a Cabernet Sauvignon from California (color: 5/10, smell: 11/20, taste: 10/20 = 26 out of 50.) Unfortunately, none of the wines that we ordered during this visit were exceptional in any way except perhaps for “averageness.”
I was eating more slowly than my companions, focusing on the food while trying to stalk and capture the opinions in my subconscious. Everyone else had finished and the server asked if I would like to box up my food. I said, “Yes” – even though I had not finished – thinking that he would bring me a box. Instead, he took my plate. I could have prevented him from taking it, of course, but since everyone else was already done, I figured that I would just finish my food later. My plate still had half of the ribs on it, most of the barbecue sauce, one-third of the corn and half of the beans when it was taken. Later, when I opened the take-home box there were – unfortunately – only the mildly-sauced ribs. What could have been a nice, little mini-meal was relegated to a snack and my overall impression of the restaurant was diminished, if only slightly.
For dessert, I tried the Trio Sampler, which came with a Mini Peach Apple Cobbler, a Mini Lemon Soufflé and a Mini Chocolate Soufflé. The cobbler was heavy on the bread elements, light on the peach and apple and the caramel ice cream was the best part. The lemon soufflé had a light lemon flavor and the strawberry with whipped cream was a great complement. The chocolate soufflé – paired with vanilla ice cream – was like a lava cake with less gooeyness inside and it had a rich, chocolate flavor. It's a big enough dessert to share... I would advise against one person trying to eat the Trio Sampler without help, even though there are "mini" designations on each item.
Yardhouse serves food that is at least a notch above what I’ve come to expect from a restaurant chain and they have an incredibly massive selection of beer as well. The weakest link is – without a doubt – their wine list... we tried several different wines of different varieties and the very best glass was two points away from dead average. It’s really a minor quibble considering the other strengths of the restaurant, but it must be mentioned. (And I don’t always drink wine with my meals anyway. It might be interesting to return for another review that focuses more on the beer selection.) Since they have close to a hundred and fifty beers, you could visit every single day for a few months and try a different one each day. That’s pretty impressive. Plus, their menu is fairly extensive and it would take some time to tire of the food choices. It's not difficult to see why these restaurants are popping up in more and more places across the United States. I have no problems recommending Yardhouse to others and I will happily eat (and drink) there again in the future.