Ok. . . . So last Friday night closed a VERY long work week and, truthfully, I was in no mood to critique a restaurant. I would have much preferred a low key evening in front of the TV with a quality bourbon in my hand. That said, the vegan can be quite persuasive and, we do try to honor our commitment of at least one critique per week. As this was a short weekend for the vegan, Friday night was the only way we would be able to reach that goal. Our quest for dining harmony brought us to Yard House in the Domain.My bad attitude and reluctance to open my mind and palate quickly dissipated upon walking into Yard House. Wait, that’s not entirely true. It actually required about 12 steps to reach the bar and lay my weary eyes upon one of the very best draft beer selections in town. I could feel the tension start to fall away from my shoulders when I saw the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel beer tap. Mmmm Nirvana!! I highly recommend this brew.
We were seated abnormally quickly; I think they seated us out of rotation by mistake. Alas, we did not object and were promptly greeted by a happy server named Autumn. More on her in a bit. I ordered the Nashville Hot Chicken. I normally don’t eat many fried foods but this dish had been recommended to me by both Autumn and a friend of mine, so I felt obliged to give it a shot. I am very happy that I did. The chicken is fried to a crispy outer layer with tender and juicy flesh that is seasoned perfectly, then topped with a honey hot sauce that is both sweet and spicy. The chicken is accompanied by 3 sweet potato pancakes that are absolutely decadent. The syrup and pad of butter atop the pancakes add a ton of calories but the flavor is worth an extra 30 minutes on the cardio bike. Additional accompaniments are a small dish of creamy ranch dressing and a side of pickles. Autumn advised me that a “perfect bite” would include a forkful of chicken, pancake and a pickle dipped in the ranch dressing. OMG was she right!!! The flavors mixed perfectly together.
Now, back to Autumn. First things first, she does NOT have a sister named Summer. I asked because I thought it would be cool if she did; but no. I believe Autumn is a trainer of the servers at Yard House and is only on temporary assignment in Austin. She was GREAT and really knew her way around the menu. There are several options for vegans, and Autumn expertly explained each of them. She and Kellie had a great conversation about egg washes, and various ways that food is prepared that disqualify it as vegan fare. I didn’t follow much of it but the vegan was legitimately impressed. That made me happy and allowed me to enjoy my meal that much more. All elements of our dining experience considered results in four cow faces from this carnivore. Both meat eaters and plant killers can find quality options at Yard House. Give it a go and don’t forget the Bourbon Barrel Beer!!
As promised, we finally tried somewhere new to both of us! First let me back up. As a vegan I follow many vegan accounts on social media and through this grapevine I had heard that Yard House had a nice selection for vegans. Our partner in crime from our Soto adventures confirmed as he had recently been to the new Domain location. I was pretty excited to try something new but was worried that it would not live up to the hype.
So Friday night, after a long trip home from my work travels, we ventured out. We expected a crowd (which we typically are not fond of) and found people waiting outside. Apprehensive, we signed up for a table and were told that we would wait 30-40 minutes. We went to the bar to have a drink and wait. Just as we were ordering, our buzzer went off, only 15-ish minutes after putting our name in. What a deal! They thought we had four people so that may have been a mistake but not on our part and we were delighted to be seated.
The menu was all that I’d hoped. A whole section dedicated to vegetarians with Gardein “chicken” substitutes created into many options such as pizza, sandwiches, bowls and more. Now I know there are different camps on veganism and some are very anti-faux meat. To you all I would say, this isn’t for you then; however, don’t hate on those of us who are down! It is hard being vegan sometimes when you are always expected to eat a salad. Again read my bio – that’s not my jam! I like to eat and if I can go out like “normal” people and eat a chicken sandwich by George I will.
Yes that’s what I ordered. Well rather a Gardein “chicken” torta. What the heck is a torta? Good thing our waitress Autumn was on point. She explained that it was essentially a sandwich. She was also so knowledgeable about veganism, explaining that they could substitute vegan Daiya cheese for me and knew what sides to recommend. Apparently the deliciously fried items are fried in the same oil as the animal products so that was a no go. I ended up trying to be healthy and ordered the steamed vegetable medley.
When our plates arrived I quickly took my picture. I noticed two sauces and the cheese looked a little too real so I called Autumn over to reassure me. Turns out the sauces were not vegan so it was good I checked. She also confirmed the cheese was “Gary” not dairy so all good. This is my most feared accidental intake as I am lactose intolerant and a slip up has serious consequences. Mainly for the people I hang out with later!
The sandwich did not need sauce. It had an avocado cabbage base that was perfectly creamy and crunchy at the same time. The Gardein “chicken” was cooked perfectly – yes you can mess that up just like real chicken. The Daiya was the mozzarella version I believe, which complimented the sandwich perfectly. All of this on a lovely bread roll which reminded me of a cross between ciabatta and a hoagie roll. I ate the whole thing!
The only lackluster item was sadly the veggies. They were a mix of peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, etc., steamed with no detectable seasoning. It reminded me more of what people think I eat – bland and boring. Autumn noticed that I had barely touched it and when I told her my opinion she immediately offered to bring me something else. As I had filled up on the sandwich I needed no more. She did say next time I could ask for broccoli with Daiya melted on top! How cool is that? It’s not even on the menu.
To say I was happy though is an understatement. I had a fantastic meal and the carnivore did too! I give this a full four rutabagas for the great food, service and most importantly a menu of choices. I get to come back and have something different….again and again. That’s a win in my book.