By Sara Liss
The goods: Beer lovers rejoice! The Yard House, a new shrine to all things sudsy and of-the-keg has landed at the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, ready to pour you a cold one from over 130 varieties of beer. It's hard to argue with their motto touting the “world's largest selection of draft beer” when you walk into the cavernous dining room and spot the plethora of shiny taps all standing at attention behind the large oval-shaped bar. This is the second South Florida outpost of the chain which also has a branch at Palm Beach Gardens as well as dozens of locations throughout the West Coast. The vibe is lively and convivial with a hopping bar scene and tables consistently packed even on weeknights. Deep leather booths, dark wood tables and a massive open kitchen give the space a polished mega-pub feel while outdoor seating overlooking the tranquil Merrick Park courtyard allows for quiet time with your pint.
A popular happy hour featuring reduced-priced drafts and half-off appetizers from 3-6pm Monday-Friday packs in the after-work crowds while a late-night happy hour from 10pm until closing Sunday through Wednesday attracts the younger, date-heavy throngs.
The grub: American fusion fare which basically means everything from spicy tuna rolls to pizza but that also means there's something for everyone. Lest you think the wide variety compromises the quality of the food, take heart: all sauces and dressings are made in house, as is the pizza dough and desserts. Prices are comparable to other upmarket-casual spots (like Houston's) meaning starters like chicken nachos and spinach cheese dip average about $10, entree-sized salads go for around $14, burgers are $11 and mains range $13-$25.
Start dinner off with a frosty brew like a citrusy Lost Coast Pale Ale and pair it with the onion ring tower, stacked high with greasless, crispy onion rings accompanied by a Parmesan dipping sauce. The ahi crunchy salad is a colorful array of ruby slices of seared fish, perky greens and wonton chips. There are nine different kinds of burgers including a turkey burger made with free range turkey and a surf and turf topped with grilled asparagus, Maine lobster and a tomato bernaise sauce. Mains like the porcini-crusted halibut drizzled with white truffle oil over bok choy and mashed potatoes elevate this eatery beyond standard sports bar offerings.
Desserts include a generously-sized fresh baked brownie and “mini-servings” of $4 warm apple peach cobbler with caramel ice cream and crème brulee topped with caramelized bananas.
Verdict: Beer aficionados will have plenty to keep them busy sampling over 130 brews along with a vast menu of global fusion eats.
Yard House, 320 San Lorenzo Ave, 305-444-1004; Hours: Mon-Thu. 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 a.m., Fri-Sat. 11:00 a.m. - 2:30 a.m., Sun. 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 a.m.