Yard House's ambiance draws younger crowd
Special to The Desert Sun
May 2, 2002
We've found the young people. If you look around at most valley restaurants, you have a hard time believing current census numbers that show the valley's population to be gaining young people. But you'll be a believer at the Yard House in Rancho Mirage. Patrons one recent weeknight were mostly in their 20s and 30s, with a few in their 40s and 50s.
The restaurant, part of a chain with popular locations in Long Beach, Irvine and Costa Mesa, mixes great food with an ambiance designed to draw a younger crowd.
It's a big, noisy, open space centered around a huge bar lined with more than 100 beer taps.
Strategically placed televisions make it possible to see the game from every seat in the house. The walls are lined with booths, some of which look big enough for six.
Tables for four fill the space around the bar.
There's no sense of being too close in this huge room. The high ceilings feature industrial pipe leading to the keg room, which you can see from a window in the dining room.
There's also a semi-private room at one end of the dining room. Windows frame the view to The River and allow those outside to check out the action inside.
We visited one recent weeknight, worried that we might have to wait for a table since the Yard House doesn't take reservations. Asking for a table at 7:30 p.m., we got right in, but the restaurant was quite busy.
Restaurant The menu promises late-night dining, a welcome addition to the valley where your dining choices are severely limited after 9 p.m. Another note is posted at the door as well: They promise to check ID on anyone who doesn't look at least 40 years old. Time for better skin care, I suppose, as there was no question about our beer orders. However, a young man at a table near us was drinking a soda after being unable to provide identification.
When the restaurant's named for a 36-inch tall beer glass, it pays to be careful.
For those not interested in beer, the menu lists a nice selection of 11 wines by the glass, ranging from $5 for a Beringer White Zinfandel to an $8.50 Hess Select Cabernet. If you're interested in a bottle, the wine selection offers 42 wines from $24 to $275.
Most of the wines are in the $30-$40 range and are offered at some of the best prices I've seen. There's also an impressive list of signature martinis for $7.50.
We opted to try the beer for which the Yard House is known. The waiter suggested Bay Hawk Honey Blond for my companion who asked for a lighter brew. I didn't make it past the A's in the menu, opting for the Anchor Steam.
We stuck to the pints, and we weren't disappointed in either beer. It will take most beer fans a year of visits to try every beer on the list.
Menu Our very patient waiter was happy to let us order appetizers and mull our entree choices. There are a wide variety of appetizers from which to choose, priced from $4.95 to $12.95. We shared the Blue Crab Cakes, $9.95, and Moo Shu Egg rolls, $7.95.
The two crab cakes were small but thick with a lightly breaded crispy shell. They were topped with fresh mango papaya chutney.
The egg rolls were crispy and spicy and filled with chicken and chili cream cheese. Both were served hot and fresh. It would be easy to make a meal of appetizers at the Yard House.
Not that there aren't a wide variety of entrees to choose from.
The menu lists a half-dozen entree salads, nine pizzas, seven pasta and rice bowls, five "Sterling Silver" beef dishes, burgers and sandwiches and 15 Yard House favorites.
We opted for two favorites. My companion had the ginger crusted salmon, $18.95, and I had the crab-crusted swordfish, $20.95.
Both were beautifully presented with wasabi mashed potatoes and flavorful sauces.
The salmon was surrounded by a tomato oil and spicy peanut vinaigrette.
The swordfish featured delicate lemon grass beurre blanc. Both entrees
were very rich and quite tasty.
But there are plenty of rich desserts on the menu, if you're so inclined.
Final thoughts The River and the Yard House are a great match.
While dining at other restaurants at The River can be an evening's experience, the Yard House offers enough quick choices that it makes dinner and a movie, or even dinner and pleasant stroll around The River, a possibility.
And the promise of late-night dining adds to the draw, particularly for the younger crowd.
Source: Table for Two