Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Houston Yard House Review

My wife and tried out the new Yard House in Houston last night. Its located in the middle of the brand new City Centre development at I10 and Beltway 8 on the West side of Houston (and more importantly, very close to our house). The whole development is very modern and contemporary and there are a few other upscale eateries already open such as RA Sushi, Eddie V's and Straits.

I've been to a few other Yard House locations around the country and they all generally have the same look and feel. This location seems a little smaller then other locations, but they do have a very large patio area on two sides that looks out over a large open courtyard. A large racetrack shaped bar is in the center of the restaurant with ~100 beer taps wrapping around the inside wall. The kegs attached to all those taps are contained in a glass-walled cooler along the end of the restaurant with pipes running overhead from the cooler to the bar. Loud classic rock music was playing while about 20 flatscreen TV's were tuned to various channels.

We arrived around 5:30 and were seated immediately in a booth along the glass windows of the keg cooler. The menu is large with a good assortment of unique variations of familiar items as well as the usual favourites. We started with spinach cheese dip served with crispy flat bread. For dinner, we shared the Spicy House Salad and the Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza. The salad was very fresh and crisp with a light but spicy dressing. The pizza was done perfectly with a thin crispy crust and the macadamia nuts added an extra little crunch to it. Overall, we were both very happy with the food. The service was also excellent and we were never left looking for someone to refill our water glasses or order another beer.

However, the beer menu was what I was most interested in. I counted 87 draft beers on the menu, including all the macro lagers. There is a good assortment of ales and lagers with a larger selection of Belgian beers then I expected, but there's nothing too out of the ordinary. I didn't have a hard time finding something I wanted to drink, but don't expect to find any rare or extreme beers either (go to the Petrol Station if you're wanting those). It would be nice to have more local beers available though. Two Real Ale (Fireman's #4, Coffee Porter), a Saint Arnold (Lawnmower) and a Shiner (Bock) was all I saw. I had a Green Flash West Coast IPA to start, followed by a Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale and ended on a Rogue Dead Guy Ale. All were fresh tasting and served in a standard pint glass. Most beers are also available in a half yard beer glass.

Overall, its pretty much what I expected. Its an upscale eatery that has a large assortment of draft beer. The prices are a little high, but they do have a good happy hour with half-priced appetizers and pizzas. Beer geeks would probably be disappointed by the beer selection, but that's not really the market they're after. Our side of town has gone without a good restaurant that also has a good selection of beer for a very long time and I have a feeling this place will become our new default location for dining out.

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