This post is also affectionately known as “When Andi Went to the Yard House Without Kevin”; we are BIG Yard House fans, so Kev was less than thrilled when I texted him pix of my solo Yard House adventure. Well, you tell me … what’s a girl to do when she has to exit the house due to floor refinishing fumes?? As mentioned previously, we are in the (lengthy!) throes of kitchen work status post water damage. One piece of good news was that we were able to refinish our wood floors vs. replacing them, as we really liked what was already there. Unbeknownst to us, this was a smelly (as in, I-worry-our-lungs-will-deteriorate type of toxic stank) re-do, and I readily followed the floor guy’s recommendation to “Leave, leave now!”.
However, this information was sprung upon me – no advance warning that a HAZMAT suit and mask would be appropriate if I planned on staying home – so I had to develop a plan on the fly. What to do, what to do … hmmm … Yard House. Yes – the Yard House. Gardein deliciousness and BEER. Good, good beer. An actual, legit excuse to go eat and drink! A brief (private) happy dance later, I am on the road.
Even though I end up arriving close to lunch hour, I am pleased to see that I have my pick of patio seating. And, I get to choose which patio I want; our closest Yard House (Temecula) has two large patios. Aren’t choices lovely? I think so too! I choose the one directly across from Pottery Barn, so that I may consider future home decorating purchases as I nosh vegan fare and imbibe draft brew.
Once seated, I make quick work of ordering my usual Six-Pack Sampler (Traditional, not Belgian). And water. Always water. I share with server Karrah – as she catches me staging my menu photo – that I am going to blog about their gardein (lowercase on gardein not a typo – they apparently are as fond of lowercase lettering as am I!) menu options.
I determine that I will opt for the “gardein BBQ Chicken Salad”. We are pretty crazy about their gardein burger choices (our favorite is the Pepper-Crusted Gorgonzola Burger – minus the gorgonzola! – with truffle fries – and their gardein Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza; the gardein Orange Peel Chicken is a delectable option when you feel like a dietary extravagance is in order). It is summer, it’s hot and I feel like I best eat some greens as we will be dining out the next couple of days.
While I wait for my order, I am enjoying the groovy, classic rock music that is one of Yard House’s hallmark claims-to-fame (and the soundtrack to my formative years). I was treated to an immediate bout of nostalgia via Bryan Adams’ “Cuts Like a Knife” upon my arrival, followed by everything from Supertramp’s “Bloody Well Right” to the Dead’s “Sugar Magnolia”.
My sampler’s Mort Subite Witte Lambic (why yes, I do pick up the “light peach aroma and flavor”!) is going down well when my dish arrives. It’s pretty (kinda – maybe “colorful” is the better descriptor), and I spear a piece of gardein before I snap some photos. Drat! I hastily rearrange it all and jump back in once the photo op is wrapped.
I am delighted with the fresh corn kernels – as tasty as they are, I wonder if roasting them would have taken them to that next level (roasted veggies also look cool). They could have been more (much more!) generous with the pinto beans – I think there were maybe a dozen of those little guys hanging out. The primary lettuce was Iceberg, but I was ultimately okay with this as it was refreshing, fresh and had a satisfying crunch. I couldn’t decipher what type of lettuce the dark green leaves were, but they added some color contrast, if not much else. Thin, crispy strips of tortilla chips added further to the overall crunch factor, and that is a nice thing in a salad. I also appreciated that the fried onions were red. The star of the show – by far – was the citrus bbq sauce drizzled over the gardein “chicken breast” and salad. I agree with Karrah – the citrus touch sets it apart from run-of-the-mill, overly sweet bbq sauces, and complements greens well. Karrah kindly brought me a different dressing too, as this item comes with a tantalizing-sounding cilantro & chipotle ranch, but – for obvious reasons – I opted for a non-dairy choice. I selected the Bloody Mary vinaigrette – clear choice - say “no” to a Bloody Mary anything? Duh. FYI – their Balsamic vinaigrette and Thai Peanut* dressing are also dairy-free (*this one, however, does include honey, so it’s a no go for strict vegan palates). A fun addition to this salad is the pasilla pepper; I like their mild-to-medium hot flavor, but the chunks were far too big – me thinks a sous chef was careless.
Okay – now I have fully arrived at Happy Town. Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More” is playing over their state-of-the-art sound system. I simply cannot explain what that song does to me – but whatever it is, it is devine. Thanks Tom. I give the salad a break and revel in the tune while contentedly tasting the myriad brews in my sampler.
Wonderful Karrah is back and letting me know about Yard House’s upcoming “600 Calorie Menu”. Wha …? She shares that this new offering will contain flat breads, all of which can be veganized! These new options will also be available during happy hour, and their debut will be August 7th. Another date for our calendar.
Since Karrah is a wealth of information, I hit her up with my future plans, which include an investigation into their extensive beer list to determine which are vegan. She comes through again, giving me the name of their GM, telling me that he will readily work with me. So good.
My salad plate is just about licked clean by now, but the music continues. Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush are crooning “Don’t Give Up“. In this moment, I interpret this to mean I must not give up my beer consumption, so I order an Abita Purple Haze – an American Wheat. Refreshing, easy-to-drink and pretty!
Bill paid, notes and pictures taken, beer glasses emptied. Time to go. But – oh! – flashbacks of my first-ever concert as The Police launch into “Walking on the Moon“. Music, brew, vegan food. I am grateful. Life is good.