Yardbird at the Venetian
Maple Glazed Bacon Doughnut
Cinnamon Apple Hand Pies – Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Buttermilk Biscuits – Honey Butter, Jam
Low & Slow Smoked Chicken Salad – Haas Avocado, Warm Fried Cornbread, Yogurt Dressing
’77 Elvis Pancakes – Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Banana Compote, Bourbon Maple Syrup, Peanut Butter
Shrimp n’ Grits – Florida Shrimp, Crisp Virginia Ham, Adluh South Carolina Stone Ground Grits
Skillet Cornbread – Poppyseed, Gouda, Bacon, Maple Butter
Macaroni and Cheese – Torchio Pasta, Five Artisinal Cheeses, Crispy Herb Crust
Treated to a Friends and Family smorgasbord on New Year’s Day and vowing a prompt return it was just after eleven o’clock that another well traveled diner and myself sat down to Brunch at the Venetian’s newest spot and ordering with a focus on mid-day specific menu items as we both had already tried the legendary chicken an eight plate feast soon followed, only a couple miscues from a single food runner and a couple menu inconsistencies beleaguering an otherwise superlative service.
Having already written of the first meal at Yardbird, the scene at midday proved far more laid back than that bustling evening before yet from the moment of entering the vibe remained pleasant and upscale, much like the Miami original and the sort of service propagated by heralded spots throughout Charleston or Atlanta, certainly leagues above the Sin City ‘norm.’
Starting off sweet, much to the amusement of my tablemate, it was with a quartet of buttermilk biscuits served piping hot, flaky, and rich with buttermilk beneath lightly sweet notes that the meal began and topping each with a slather of house blended butter and rich preserves there was immediate agreement that no better biscuit exists in Las Vegas, the follow-up hand pies equally impressive with a golden buttered exterior surrounding soft, cinnamon apples as a ball of house-churned ice cream slowly melted at their side.
Largely underwhelmed by a doughy doughnut despite the excellent thick-cut bacon atop a layer of rich maple and admittedly off-put by the $9 pricetag I’d have sooner spent on more pork, round two began with the Low and Slow, a dish almost destined to become a restaurant signature, and hot on its heels the pairing of stick-a-spoon-up-straight grits beneath plump shrimp and the ’77 Elvis Pancakes – a deceptively light dish with rich buttermilk finding its foil amidst boozy maple, bananas, dark chocolate, and peanut butter infused with a porky sapor that could probably improve anything on which it was spread.
Not particularly impressed by the mac n’ cheese during my first visit it was with a wink from the kitchen that a second serving was sent to our table and admitting that I was perhaps too full to truly enjoy it the first time the flavors were certainly more prominent this time around, the sour notes of cream cheese peaking through sharp cheddar as the torch shaped pasta proved an exceptional mechanism of delivery – a similar compliment due for the low skillet of cornbread, an exceptionally toothsome version of the classic that was complex and moist on its own but all the more delicious when soaked through with the liberally applied maple infused butter.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Having now tasted twenty plates from Chef Harrington and the Yardbird team plus several at the Miami flagship with only the doughnut and first crock of macaroni and cheese proving less than exemplary it would be an understatement to say that Yardbird is quickly emerging as a personal favorite on the Strip and with several ideas brewing for cuisine that is sorely underrepresented in Las Vegas one can only hope that tourists and locals are willing to stop in – the prices admittedly high compared to other ‘southern’ spots, but the ingredients and execution almost invariably justifying the cost.
RECOMMENDED: Low and Slow, Biscuits, Skillet Cornbread, ’77 Elvis Pancakes
AVOID: Maple Glazed Bacon Doughnut.
TIP: Offering brunch from 9:30-4:00 Friday-Sunday, Dinner starting at 4:30 all week long.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor