The Longest Yard
There is ridiculous, and then there is the Yard House.
I'd heard the new überbrewpub/restaurant with 180 taps in Triangle Square was popular, and since they don't take reservations, my wife and I thought about dropping by on a Thursday evening before the drinking crowd surged in. When we got there at 7:30 p.m., we found about 50 people waiting.
In a line.
Once those people got inside, they learned a table wouldn't be available for two hours. So, off we went to Mi Casa, one of Costa Mesa's many neighborhood Mexican restaurants.
We went back to the Yard House the next night straight after work. At 6 p.m., we checked in—a one-hour wait. And we were lucky at that: a half-hour later, the wait was twice as long.
So we stood around and drank beer, which is what you do at the Yard House. They claim more taps than any other place on Earth, but who really gives a shit? Even with 180 taps, you'll find glaring omissions (what? No Fat Tire, the best microbrew in Colorado?). But we drank, and we looked out the window across the street at Henry & Harry's Goathill Tavern, which boasts a puny 140 taps. Yippee skippy, it's all a gimmick. Like you've really heard of all these beers.
But the bar offers really good European pilsners and Anchor Steam on tap (always a refreshing treat), so, yeah, the Yard House is a good place to drink the stuff.
And—very good news given the very long wait—it's also a good place to eat.
The original Yard House in the LBC bored me with its limited menu, but that was three years ago. Since then, they got a real chef, the wildly talented Carlito Jocson. He composed a wide-ranging menu that covers obvious pub foods—sandwiches, chops, steaks—and adds some intriguing Asian touches.
The Yard House knows what to do with its meat: topnotch New York, sirloin, rib-eye and tenderloin steaks; a thick pork chop cooked with caramelized apples; and an herb-infused prime-rib chop. For these choices alone, the Yard House makes for a good steak house.
You could eat the appetizers alone and be very happy here. I particularly like the Korean barbecue short ribs, slathered with a sweet, gooey sauce over a bed of tasty jasmine rice; it's large enough for a meal. The grilled artichoke is equally fabulous (with this caveat: cut back on the crappy potato chips dumped on top). There are about a dozen other appetizers to choose from, too.
On the salad side of life, pick the roasted-turkey cobb. Though not a conventional cobb, the ingredients are fresh, and the buttermilk dressing is good enough to drink from the bottle.
I ordered the lobster garlic noodles, which smelled fabulous when placed before me. This Parmesan-and-garlic-rich pile of noodles was supposed to feature the aforementioned lobster, shrimp, crab, spinach and Portobello mushrooms. Yum, yum, yum—I couldn't wait to dig in. Mushroom, mushroom, mushroom . . . wait, where's the seafood? Two pieces of lobster, four small shrimp and microscopic bits of crab? Shit—I felt cheated. This dish cost 18 bucks, and it's basically a bunch of mushrooms arguing with garlic.
So here's the word: if you wait the wait, drink the beer and eat the steak, you'll be happy with the Yard House.
The Yard House, located at Triangle Square, 1875 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, is open Mon.-Thurs., 5 p.m.-1 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., 4 p.m.-2 a.m. (949) 642-0090. Dinner for two, beer included, $50-$80. Lots and lots and lots of beer. AmEx, MC and Visa accepted.
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