The restaurant business can be challenging in Las Vegas. There’s a lot of competition so the customers can be picky. Only the strong survive as restaurants come and go fairly often. However, if a restaurant offers great food and great service, they will last for years.
The best form of promotion for a restaurant in Las Vegas has always been from word of mouth. Sometimes opinions are shared verbally, but today they’re often shared online. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat all give people a place to voice their excitement or lack thereof for a restaurant. If you follow me on any of these social media platforms, you already know where this review is going.
Now that everyone has a voice via social media, it’s easy for something great to get lost in the noise. Some restaurants have a good reputation, some have a bad reputation and some just offer pretty food that makes for a nice photo. Yardbird Southern at The Venetian has received constant praise since opening last year. This isn’t only praise coming from the media, but also from actual civilians that pay for their meals.
To-Do: Yardbird Southern
Yardbird Southern has been number one on my new restaurant to-do list for a while, but it wasn’t until I was invited to a bourbon tasting for National Bourbon Heritage Month that I had a real excuse to visit. You can read about the bourbon tasting on my blog. The bourbon was a good start to what turned out to be a great meal.
As you can tell by its name, Yardbird Southern features food from the south. The main featured item on the menu is the chicken. The Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffles is the dish that came to me with the highest recommendation. We’ll get to that in a minute as it wasn’t the only attraction at Yardbird Southern.
Fried Green Tomato BLT
Everyone who works at Yardbird Southern said the Fried Green Tomato BLT was their most popular item. They backed that up with their personal experience with the dish too. This isn’t a traditional BLT sandwich but, as you can see above, a sort of deconstructed dish. While I don’t like tomatoes, I’ll try them if they’re accompanied by bacon. I’ll try just about anything with bacon. This promised to be more than just traditional bacon version of the BLT. The bacon is a house smoked pork belly with pimento cheese, frisee tomato jam, and a lemon vinaigrette.
What was set up to be the second coming of heaven was probably the worst thing I had all evening. The pimento cheese ruined every other flavor for me. My friend, who likes pimento cheese, said it good. Everything after the unique Fried Green Tomato BLT was fantastic. This was just the beginning of what turned out to be a feast.
In between the appetizers and the main course we were greeted with a basket of biscuits. These are traditional and delicious biscuits. Nothing fancy here, just good biscuits that were made better with the addition of Yardbird Southern’s secret recipe honey butter. That butter was so good that it should be packaged and sold somehow. To be fair to honey butter, all honey butter is delicious.
The Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffles
I have to make a confession, this was the first time I’ve ever had chicken and waffles. The combination wasn’t popular where I was growing up in New York City. I don’t eat fried chicken very often, so it doesn’t come to mind as something I’d order. However, there was only one main course that came recommended and it was the Chicken ‘n’ Watermelon ‘n’ Waffles. I had to try it.
I still don’t understand this combination of food items, but every item on the Chicken ‘n’ Watermelon ‘n’ Waffles plate was delicious. Even the watermelon, which served mostly as a palette cleanser, was tasty.
The chicken was crisp on the outside and very juicy on the inside. Between the breading and the brining process, there was so much flavor in and around the chicken. Dipping the chicken in the hot sauce was nice for variety, but not necessary. There was so much flavor in the chicken that it didn’t need the extra love.
Speaking of extra love, that’s what the waffles were. I’m not sure how they fit in with the chicken, but they were light and crisp and tasty. The syrup was light, yet flavorful. The waffle was good, but we had so much food that I barely touched them.
This was a sharing dinner and the other main course we tried was the short rib. The order came with cauliflower mashed potatoes, charred corn and green beans with sweet bordelaise. The short rib was very good (this photo doesn’t do it justice) but the sides were spectacular.
As I announced to the table “I’m even enjoying these green sticks.” That may have been the bourbon talking, but it’s how I felt. The cauliflower in the potatoes gave it a nice twist, while the char on the corn was sweet and smokey. This dish was as comforting as any hug you’ll receive when you’re in Las Vegas.
Velvet & Berries Dessert
I’m not much of a dessert person, but I love this picture and needed to share. Yardbird Southern spends 25 minutes preparing every dessert on their menu for each order. You can see it and taste it, so I want to show some respect for the effort. The Velvet & Berries dessert is a red velvet cheesecake with berries and a cheese mousse. This is beautiful and the berries were delicious.
I will return to Yardbird Southern sooner than later. In fact, I might return before this review is posted. The food measured up to the rave reviews I received. As good as the food was, the service may have been better. Something that stood out is that every person we came across was familiar with the food and cocktail menus. This has been lacking in new restaurants I’ve visited recently. It’s nice to speak with people who’ve actually tried the food, but I digress.
I was as impressed as I expected to be with everything from the delicious Old Fashioned(s) to the food and to the service. It’s difficult to stand out in the Las Vegas restaurant scene today, but Yardbird Southern does that with food that you won’t find in many other casinos.