By Melanie Galarce
You’ve probably heard of a little known restaurant in South Beach by the name of Yardbird Southern Table and Bar (1600 Lenox Avenue, Miami Beach) as the accolades have amounted since the establishment opened up in 2011. The fresh and inventive (yet authentic) take on Southern cuisine has kept the restaurant with a never-ending waiting list and awards that range from James Beard finalist to Bon Appétit’s 50 Best New Restaurants. We tend to forget how lucky we are to have this little gem, but I’m here to give you a friendly reminder that it’s time to head back.
Menu highlights: Biscuits are a must in any Southern restaurant. As so, I tried the Smoked Brisket with pickled onion and cucumber, smoky tomato jam, and house-made BBQ sauce (served in two). I had every intention of licking my fingers, but I really didn’t want to disappoint my husband on his life choices. The restaurant was also jam-packed and it would have been a tad bit embarrassing…maybe.
Also, let me just mention that the Yardbird Kale Salad is probably one of the best kale dishes I’ve ever had. With Vermont sharp cheddar cheese, apples, cornbread croutons, house-made moonshine raisins, and cider vinaigrette, it’s almost impossible not to eat this and feel like you’re eating something other than kale…seriously, there was guilt involved. And those cornbread croutons? They were divine.
Last, but certainly not least, was the Chicken ‘n’ Watermelon ‘n’ Waffles plate with honey hot sauce, chilled spiced watermelon, Vermont sharp cheddar cheese waffle, and bourbon maple syrup. Ordering this on my Thursday night visit was like brunching on a lazy Sunday afternoon. When food has the power to take you to a moment in time that tends to be your favorite, it’s a total home run. This chicken also deserves every accolade it’s earned in the past six years. It’s consistently on point: crispy, crunchy, and savory.
Standout dish: I’m still drooling over the Fried Green Tomato BLT with house smoked pork belly, pimento cheese, smoky tomato jam, frisée, and lemon vinaigrette.
Most importantly it should be noted that Yardbird recently launched a pre-fix lunch menu (available Monday-Friday from 11AM until 4PM) for only $25 per person. You can choose from three courses, which include favorites like the above mentioned Fried Green Tomato BLT, Deviled Eggs, two pieces of the famous Fried Chicken (with watermelon and buttermilk biscuit), as well as your choice of dessert between Deep Fried Oreo and Beignets. They’ll also throw in coffee or tea because they’re good people over at Yardbird, and nothing beats a little Southern hospitality (or that price)!
Are we boozing? Of course we are, and we’d encourage you to try some darn good Southern-inspired cocktails like the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade or classics with a spin like the Yardbird Old Fashion. Draft and bottled beer are also available.
Check this place out if you like: The hospitality company that runs and operates Yardbird, 50 Eggs, also has Spring Chicken and Swine Southern Table & Bar under its portfolio. Check any of these other places if you’re looking for the best in Southern food, culture, and hospitality.
Mel’s take: Yardbird has been a favorite of mine since the moment it opened. If I’m dedicated enough to make a reservation, this is usually my safe spot on The Beach (and a constant recommendation for out-of-towners). The food is consistently on point, the chicken is always mouthwatering, and the service is impeccable regardless of the packed house. The new lunch menu has given me a new reason to frequent this spot. My most recent visit was just a simple reminder that this place can do no wrong. It’s just Southern food at its damn best.