When you’re in the mood for some local flavor, the Yard House in The Village at Meridian is an excellent choice. Even though they are a national chain, each location is dedicated to dishes and beers that serve to show what the local area is about. Bryce Quinn, the General Manager at the Meridian location, explained that many dishes are created in house from local ingredients and specific to each location. He added that the Yard House is very serious about representing the local food and brewing community as well, adding “Yard House has been around for 21 years. We’re the only one in the state of Idaho. What I like is that we want to be the modern American gathering place, a place where anyone can come in and enjoy a quick lunch, a Happy Hour time or a late-night snack. We are your option in the Meridian area. We’d love to see you and enjoy what we can offer!”.
The Yard House also places a large emphasis on local beers. As Bryce explained, “One of our features is our Local Six Pack. We choose beers that are within 50 miles of our location to bring more of that hyper-local feel to it. The Sockeye Wollybugger Wheat; The Edge Hop Kiss Pale Ale, Slanted Rock Iron Butt Red, Salmon River Shiver IPA out of McCall, Boise Hip Check, one of the very aggressive IPA’s that they have; and the McCall Brewery Devious Intent, our stout. It’s a progressive beer tasting, so you start from one through six, from a lighter beer all the way to the hearty stouts. It’s a great seller and great for somebody who’s new in town or visiting or traveling, so you can get a sample of what the town has to offer”.
After we sampled the beers, Bryce had a few dishes brought out for me to try. I’ve spent time in Hawaii and poke, the famous dish of raw marinated fish, is a big favorite of mine. One of the dishes created at the Yard House in Meridian is Poke Nachos, an interesting take on serving the poke. Bryce described it as “Diced marinated tuna, sliced Serrano chiles, cilantro, nori strips. We drizzle three sauces, one is a sweet soy sauce, a creamy truffle sauce and a lemon sriracha aioli. You get that balance of sweet, the umami from the truffle and you get the spice from the sriracha as well. You have the balancing of the Serranos and the green onions and the nori, gives you kind of an all-around real light texture”.
Bryce added that “This is the number three top appetizer that we sell. Sometimes we actually run out because we go through so much of it during the day, but we know it’s fresh and we make the tuna all through the day”. When the plate came to the table it was absolutely beautiful, the tuna and nori shimmering on top on a bed of won ton ‘chips’. The sauces decorated the dish nicely. The poke was marinated nicely, without an overpowering amount of oil that many places use. All the flavors were nice, allowing the fresh tuna to shine. This was a perfect dish to share. Flavor-wise, another nice thing was the contrast of the sauces, each one adding a different taste that contrasted nicely with the others. This was a real winner of a dish.
Even though Jambalaya originated in the South, it has become a popular dish all over, with regional variations making it something to try no matter where you are. Bryce explained to Meridian version of it, saying “ This is our Jambalaya, it’s our version of Jambalaya, it has some blackened shrimp, served on a bed of Louisiana crawfish, chicken andouille sausage and a spicy Tomato Worcestershire Cream Sauce. We actually make the sauce in-house and try to keep true to the roots of Jambalaya, it has a roux-based sauce to it. Its got a good spice to it, more of a robust flavor to it and a good spice to it. That’s how we recommend it. We serve it over rice or pasta in different variations. It’s a very popular entree”.
Another place I spent plenty of time in is the South, having had Jambalaya in several places in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana. The Meridian Idaho version of Jambalaya at the Yardhouse retained the essence of those other versions, but brought a lighter taste to the sausage by using chicken instead of pork. The crawfish were excellent and the shrimp nicely blasckened, plump and juicy. The sauce was delicious, spicy enough that you were sure you were eating real jambalaya. This dish was hard to stop eating, the addictive spiciness kept calling for another bite.
Finally, we got to dessert, another item created at the Yard House in Meridian. Bryce told me, “This is our Blueberry Banana Crumble, made fresh in-house. We use fresh blueberries and bananas, toss it with butter and cinnamon and we top it off with a cinnamon-scented crumble. It’s baked, then topped off with vanilla ice cream when served. I call this a ‘breakfast dessert’ because it has that nice fresh blueberry taste. It’s an amazing dessert!”. Indeed it was, the ice cream a nice texture, coating the dish as it started to help from the warm Crumble. Blueberries and bananas make a delicious combination and the whole Blueberry Banana Crumble was just packed with flavor without being too sweet.
Sitting at the expansive bar, you could see a good portion of the large room with plenty of seating. The bar is quite large, but with plenty of bartenders there was great service. The tables around the room as well as some booths provided ample seating. One notable thing was that there was plenty of space in between, making it really nice if you have a large party. There is also a nice patio outside overlooking the Fountain Square. The bottom line is, whether you’re a single sitting at the bar, a romantic couple enjoying a table at the edge of the room or a party of after-work friends at a large table, there is plenty of room for everyone.
The Yard House really has a lot going for it. At the outer edge of the Village at Meridian, there is plenty of parking available. It is close to the movie theater, making dinner, drinks and a movie a very easy evening to arrange. While it’s a chain, the Yard House has succeeded in creating an atmosphere catering to not only local suppliers, but making the Yardhouse a place where locals can feel is their own. It’s a great spot in Meridian to become a regular at. With an extensive menu including wings, street tacos, steaks, entree salads, seafood, burgers and pizza, there is something for everyone. There are also lunch specials and a kid’s menu.
Of note to vegans and vegetarians, the Yard House has a large menu selection (besides the salads etc.) of items made with Gardein™, a chicken substitute made of wheat, pea proteins, soy, vegetables and ancient grains. The Gardein™ menu includes a pizza, mac and cheese, wings, rice bowl, sandwiches, Orange ‘Chicken’, a burger and a torta. Essentially, there are as many vegan and vegetarian dishes at the Yard House as there are many standalone vegetarian/vegan restaurants.
The bottom line is, the Yard House in The Village at Meridian is a comfortable place with a great food and beer selection, geared towards being a local and locals place. With specials like Tuesday Pint Night, a Chalkboard Beer Series and a Happy Hour, there is always a good time to go. Judging by the people sitting inside, enjoying themselves, the Yardhouse is succeeding in becoming a local place that you need to try.
All photos by Ed Simon for The Boise Beat.
The Village at Meridian