Well Worth The Drive
When my food writing friend Jan Norris told me about the restaurant Yardbird in Miami Beach, I knew I had to choose it for a Road Trips For Food (RTFF.) As usual, Jan did not steer me wrong.
There were supposed to be 8 of us going, but 3 people had to cancel at the last minute. They were missed, but I am confident that the remaining 5 of us ate their portions as well as our own.
The décor in the restaurant is lovely and welcoming. It is fun to look around and see all the glass jars of in-house made pickled vegetables; and our table afforded us the opportunity to watch the hustle and bustle of the open kitchen, which is always a bonus in my book.
We went on the inaugural day of Yardbird’s new menu. Because this was my first time to Yardbird, I did not have anything to compare it to, but we felt very lucky with our timing; the additions were terrific. We decided to order and share the plates, which allowed each of us to taste all the foods that came to the table.
The first plate delivered to us had the fresh house-baked Buttermilk Biscuits served with honey butter and seasonal house jam. I have never had a better biscuit. The layers pulled apart like a dream and it was a true conflict deciding whether or not to pile on the butter and jam, because the biscuits were so darn good on their own.
The creativity of Chef Jeff McInnis shined through with all the dishes we ate. I mean, seriously, when is the last time you ordered a Big Ol’ Cheddar Waffle? It was a huge hit with cheddar cheese bursting through and the tomato chow chow topping was pickled to perfection. The cute little pitcher of bourbon maple syrup added just the right amount of sweet to the waffle.
Other favorites were the Slow Braised Short Rib Sandwich (with thick sliced fresh tomatoes, gooey cheese, housemade tomato jam), Open Faced Crab Salad Sandwich (fresh Florida crab, capers, lettuce, thick sliced tomato) and the Fried Green Tomato BLT (Heritage Acres Farm pork belly, greens, fried green tomatoes, tomato jam, housemade pimento cheese). Tough call to pick one favorite.
The timing for the first man to join a RTFF could not have been better. Eric Kaufman is 22 years old, appreciates great food and has a metabolism that allows him to finish the plates that the rest of us dared not, since we still had 5 desserts to eat. As we longingly stared at plates that had little bits of food left, I smiled, knowing that nothing would go to waste that day.
Dessert ordering was very easy for me. One of each, please. The station where Pastry Chef Gail Goetsch works was just out of sight, so I meandered over to take a peek and a couple of picture, too. There I watched her construct the Yardbird S’mores, which is a graham cracker biscuit topped with a bittersweet chocolate layer, which was a cross between a ganache and a mousse, and in-house made marshmallows placed over to top. How do I know they were made in-house? Well, if you have ever bought marshmallows at a store, you know that you can pick them up and toss them around without having to worry about them sticking to your hands. When Chef Goetsch picked up the marshmallows, it was a challenge to get them off her gloved fingers. The marshmallows were toasted with the blowtorch in such a way that even the most ardent camper would be proud.
The Peach Blackberry Buckle was incredible. Served in a glass jar along with toasted peanut ice cream and star anise gelée, it left us all fighting for more. The star anise gelée are kind of like square gummy bears, but worthy of the Gummy Bear Hall of Fame. It was a really creative way to add spice into the plating mix.
The Bing Cherry Pie with sour cream and benne (sesame) seed brittle was lovely. Best part, having just baked and blogged my Cherry Pie, is that I did not have to pit the pounds of cherries needed for this tasty dessert. The presentation was very appealing with an individual pie vs. a slice of pie.
The fourth dessert was a Goat Cheese Tart with summer berries and lemon sorbet. As you can see from the picture below, this dessert screamed “SUMMER IS HERE.” The plump blackberries worked quite nicely with the goat cheese and I loved the fact that the lemon sorbet, which was so refreshing, sat on a lemon slice.
The final dessert was the most unique one: Abita Rootbeer Cake with milk stout ice cream and smokey cream on top. I had not heard of Abita Root Beer before so I went to their website for some information. This caffeine-free drink is made using spring water, herbs, vanilla and yucca (who knew?). Best thing of all is that they sweeten the root beer with pure Louisiana cane sugar.
Why give you all the information about a root beer? Because this is the key to why Chef Goetsch’s cake works. The chocolate cake is incredibly moist, a must in my book, and the flavor of the root beer comes through in a most subtle way, not overpowering the chocolate but rather complementing it. I must confess that I am not a stout drinker. Never have been and do not foresee a change in this. Having said that, I loved the stout ice cream with this cake. I would not want a bowl full of stout ice cream, but give it to me in this cake and I will be one happy lady.
When it came to the smokey cream on top of the cake, this is where our table split, man vs. women. Eric loved the cream; the rest of us not so much. Yet, when it came to picking our favorite dessert (I picked three) the Abita Rootbeer Cake was Eric’s number one choice.
This RTFF to Yardbird brought us to a beautiful restaurant, where the service is top notch and the food is divine. If this is not a win-win combination, I do not know what is. We did ask if there are plans to move up to Palm Beach County anytime soon. Perhaps, but that will be down the road. In the meantime wherever you are, it is worth the drive to eat at Yardbird.Yardbird 1600 Lennox Avenue Miami Beach, Florida 33139 305-538-5220 www.runchickenrun.com