Thursday, January 19, 2012

Yard House – Legacy Place, Dedham, MA

My wife and I had just completed a chilled-to-the-bone 3.5 mile hike through the woods at a nearby Trustees of the Reservation Park in Sharon. We were cold, thirsty and hungry. Our plan was to reward ourselves for our healthy tramp through the woods with lunch (and Beer) at the Yard House. After winding our way through the maze-like parking lots, we entered Yard House and found a line formed from the reception booth and into the foyer. Everyone with buzzers in hand. 35 minute wait for table? There were a few seats at the bar, so we grabbed them (we prefer the bar anyway!)

It’s mid-afternoon on MLK Day and the place is packed. But, who are these people? And just what is Yard House?

At center stage, is a massive stainless oval bar (think NASCAR track) that anchors the entire restaurant. Lots of glass, stainless and modernistic motifs lend a sort of futuristic and/or industrial look. Flat screen TVs are mostly positioned where they are not in any particular line of sight. It’s a sprawling place yet there’s a logical flow and order to it. Restaurant-style seating surrounds the bar, creating somewhat narrow passageways. But it’s the array of tap handles that draws the attention. Indeed! 114 tap handles!

There are good selections of Belgians, Germans, English, US (East and West Coast, plus some familiar locals), along with a line of the usual suspects from the US mega-brewers (who must not be named), plus some of the easy-to-find Euro and Asian selections such as Henie, Stella, Peroni and Sapporo. What’s missing are a few rare, eye-popping, jaw-dropping selections that create that “nirvana” moment for the über beer geeks. But be assured, if you have a pulse you will find something to arouse the buds.

Baffled by all the beer choices? They offer a “Six Pack” of 5 oz. samplers. While it might be a nice idea to introduce folks to new beer styles, 5 oz. in narrow cylindrical glasses is too small an amount for the average beer enthusiast to fully capture the essences and nuances of a beer. It would be better to serve 4 - 8 oz. beers in wide mouth glasses. But, that’s just my opinion… A few seats down from us, a guy was rating his Belgian 6 pack sampler starting with the St. Bernardus Abt 12, followed by the Tripel Karmeliet. Good luck tasting the rest!

I ordered a Notch Session. It arrived in a standard pint glass with a proper 2” head. It was a bit too chilled, but not frosted. The Tripel Karmeliet arrived in a proper short-stemmed goblet, but it was too cold and the head was a bit stifled. I waited 5 minutes before enjoying. Bliss!

The food menu is interesting and varied enough with three full pages of tempting offerings. I ordered 3 different “Street Tacos” (Korean Short Rib, Chicken Tinga, and Korean Pork Belly). When the waitress brought our order, she explained that the chef had only enough pork belly for about ½ of their normal portion. She asked if I wanted to try a different taco option. I told her not to worry about it. The ½ portion was just fine. Long story, short…they took the entire order (which was delicious) off the check. Note to self; It pays NOT to complain! BTW - My wife ordered the vegetarian (with Gardein) salad and was quite pleased with the quality and quantity of her choice.

So, what exactly is Yard House? A sports bar chain? Sort of…I guess you could gather there with friends to watch a game...enjoy some beer and appetizers.

Is it a beer bar? In a way…in a pretty big way, though a few of the über beer geeks might whine a bit.

Is it a gastro-pub? It could be interpreted as a very large one.

Is it a beer-focused family restaurant? Could be. There were families with children. They all seemed content.

The Yard House can appeal to a wide range of clientele without falling into any clique and that’s a pretty nifty feat!

On a side note; There’s a mega-Whole Foods in Legacy Place which happens to have a fairly solid beer section. Now you have an even better reason for getting in the car and visiting the Yard House.


Yard House – 200 Legacy Place – Dedham, MA 02026 – 781-326-4644