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November 22, 2014

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Taste:

Food by the Yard

A vast, eclectic menu means no one goes hungry at the Yard House. Oh, and there’s beer.

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Beverly Poppe

Sushi rice cake with cucumber, snow crab, tobiko, avocado fan and wasabi soy sauce

The network of overhead pipes above you carries the world’s largest selection of draft beers, up to 250 delicious brews. And the menu seems almost as encyclopedic, as if the world’s largest selection of dishes were on hand to accompany them.

We are at Yard House in Town Square, a giant beer hall that typifies a new generation of American restaurants. We have become a nation of eclectic eaters, as is reflected by a place like this. It’s not enough to have entrée salads, Chinese garlic noodles and ahi tuna sashimi on the menu these days. There also has to be Korean barbecue beef, Jamaican wings and not only sliders, but also sliders with Bearnaise sauce on them.

I remember when this 900-pound gorilla opened its first restaurant, in the Long Beach Marina, because I was living there at the time. Today, the company has swelled to around 20 locations, with more in the works. Would it be stretching the point to refer to this as a Wal-Mart of food and drink? Judging by the crowds in here, I think not.

If you plan to come, come before 6, or after 7, but by all means not in between. I made the mistake of showing up at precisely 6, at which time I was handed a buzzer and told the wait would be half an hour.

Given the enormous dimensions of this place, which includes ample patio seating, I was somewhat taken aback. It was only then I learned why it was so crowded on a weeknight. Yard House serves half-price appetizers from 3 to 6, one of the best deals in town.

That means you can eat almost any of the dishes mentioned above, plus things like crab cakes, grilled artichoke, California roll and coconut shrimp, for prices that would’ve looked good in the ’60s. The restaurant usually fills up around 5 and stays that way until well after 7. I was eventually seated on the patio, a quieter experience than the noisy main dining room. And if you fear the heat, don’t. Yard House has one of the best mister systems in town, mister.

More

  • The Yard House
  • At Town Square Mall, 734-9273.
  • Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Fri.-Sat. until 3 a.m.
  • Suggested dishes: grilled Korean barbecue beef, $11.95; lettuce wraps, $10.75-$12.85; Thai chicken salad, $13.25; Cuban roast pork dip, $12.45.
  • Nightlife value Menu (Las Vegas Weekly, 5/22/08)
  • Bar Exam: The drinking yards (Las Vegas Weekly, 4/3/08)

Beers too numerous to mention are available here by the goblet, half-yard and yard, the latter being every frat boy’s dream. I’m partial to the Belgians, such as Chimay, but the beers here span the globe, like Wide World of Sports. How about an Old Speckled Hen?

The menu is by no means limited to appetizers and salads. There are also sandwich specialties, burgers, pizza, seafood, steaks, chops and desserts. And by and large, the food here is competent without being brilliant, no mean feat given the scope of this kitchen.

One of my favorite things on the menu happens to be the grilled Korean barbecue beef, which unfortunately is one of the appetizers not offered at half-price during Happy Hour. This is serious meat, beautifully charred rib meat marinated in garlic, sesame oil, brown sugar and soy sauce, just as in a Korean restaurant. The only concession to the American palate is that the meat is served off the bone, a minor difference, one supposes.

Another delicious starter are the classic sliders, natural Angus beef burgers, three to an order, layered with cheddar cheese and pickles, on soft, bite-sized buns with good fries. I also like the lettuce wraps, stir-fried chicken, shrimp or portabella mushroom, mingling in a mix of smoked tofu, pine nuts and green onion. You simply scoop up the mixture, taco-style, in a lettuce leaf, after you’ve smeared it with a choice of three dipping sauces.

If salads are your thing, I recommend the Thai chicken salad, a nice mélange of noodles tossed in spicy peanut vinaigrette, along with Asian slaw and lots of veggies. My favorite sandwich is Cuban roast-pork dip, but the blue-crab-cake hoagie, tricked out with bacon, avocado and Cajun aioli, isn’t far behind.

I wouldn’t bother with the burgers or pizza. It isn’t that they aren’t good; it’s more that there are so many other interesting choices on this menu. Roasted turkey pot pie, done in a birdbath-sized bowl covered in flaky pastry, is so big it can feed three, no kidding.

If you like seafood, the crab-crusted swordfish, an enormous filet steak blanketed in what looks like tuna salad (but is, in fact, a mayo-laden crab concoction), is a good bet. I would pass on the porcini-crusted halibut, though, because of the presence of vile truffle oil in the cream sauce. As to steaks, they are fine, as are New Zealand lamb chops and a nice piece of pork tenderloin, brushed with a too-sweet rum glaze.

No one goes hungry, or thirsty, at Yard House, but if you’ve saved room for one of these outsized desserts, the best choice might be a peach apple cobbler or the lemon soufflé cake with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. Personally, I’d prefer a tall, cool Belgian, white with foam, like the seven seas.

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