Yardbird Southern Table & Bar has received many well-deserved accolades since opening. The restaurant was a James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant 2012 and Best Chef, South 2012 and was also named one of the 50 best new restaurants of 2012 by Bon Appétit Magazine. To say expectations were high would be an understatement.
Located on Lennox Ave and 16th street, Yardbird (@Yardbird) is located in the heart of South Beach, a short walk from the main strip of Ocean Drive where many tourist traps can be found.
The restaurant has a small patio outside but we opted to sit inside in the comfortable AC. I loved the vibe of the place which has a southern charm to it – not too casual but not high end. They have a bar at the front of the restaurant and if you’re a fan of bourbon, you’d love this place. They have an extensive bourbon menu and fantastic bourbon cocktails.
We dropped by for brunch which is served on the weekends between 10am and 4pm. While the restaurant is quite spacious, they fill up quickly so I recommend taking advantage of the fact they take reservations.
The first dish we tried was Llewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken – ½ free-range bird, “27-hour” recipe with spicy Tabasco honey ($21). This was hands down the best fried chicken we’ve ever had! The chicken was perfectly seasoned, juicy and the crisp batter was to-die-for.
The fried chicken was ridiculously good on its own but it also came with a side of spicy Tabasco honey sauce which was definitely noteworthy. It gave the chicken a nice bit of sweet and spiciness. If there’s one thing you’re going to order at Yardbird, it’s gotta be their fried chicken.
We ordered the fried chicken straight up but they have a small sharing plate of “Mama’s Chicken Biscuits” which consists of their delicious fried chicken sandwiched between house-made buttermilk biscuits. Also delicious, I hear.
Next up was a dish from the “Small Shares” portion of their menu, the Fried Green Tomato BLT – Heritage Acres Farm pork belly, greens, fried green tomatoes, tomato jam and house made pimento cheese ($12). The order came with three slices of fried green tomatoes which weren’t greasy at all.
I loved the creaminess of the pimento cheese, the crunchiness of the fried green tomato, the sweetness of the tomato jam and the freshness of the greens. Creamy, crunchy, sweet and savoury – a great little bite!
Eggs Benny is typically my go-to dish at brunch so I couldn’t resist ordering the BLT Benedict Cast Iron Casserole – buttermilk biscuit crumble, soft poached organic egg, house cured bacon, cherry tomato salad, frisee, hollandaise ($15).
Served in a cast-iron skillet, this benedict casserole had everything I love about a good eggs benny – perfectly poached eggs, a flavourful hollandaise, thick-cut delicious bacon and a fluffy buttermilk biscuit base. Another killer dish!
If there’s something on the menu that shouts “Southern”, it’s the Shrimp n’ Grits – Florida Shrimp, crispy Virginia ham, Adluh South Carolina stone ground grits ($21). While ordering, our server told us these were the best grits ever. He wasn’t lying.
These grits were absolutely phenomenal and were some of the best I’ve had. It was a hearty dish of light, buttery grits sitting in a pool of broth that was packed full of flavour. The grits were topped with plump shrimp, roasted red peppers, onions and garnished with green onions. Best. Grits. Ever.
Last but not least, we had the Pecan Crusted French Toast – apple butter, fresh blackberries, bacon bourbon maple syrup ($13). I didn’t like that it was one of the first dishes to arrive since I was afraid of how it’d taste cold at the end of the meal. If you’d prefer to end your meal with this sweet dish, I’d recommend letting your server know or order it towards the end of your meal.
Even after eating it cold, it was still incredibly delicious! I can only imagine how amazing it’d taste fresh out of the kitchen. The French toast wasn’t too custardy – just how I like it and the addition of the thick cut pieces of bacon made it a wonderful sweet and savoury dish. The bourbon maple syrup that it came with was equally fabulous and not too heavy on the bourbon.
What a fantastic brunch experience! The vibe was awesome, our server was attentive and engaging and the food was nothing short of perfection. Worth all the hype!
At a glance:
• James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant 2012 and Best Chef, South 2012
• Located in South Beach at Lennox Ave and 16th street
• Brunch served on weekends from 10am to 4pm (reservations recommended)
• Hands down, the best fried chicken and shrimp n’ grits I’ve ever eaten
• Extensive selection of bourbons for you bourbon fans
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 5 stars
• Service: 4.5 stars
• Atmosphere: 4.5 stars