Truth be told, I don’t like Bloody Marys. But who cares! When I saw the drink brought to a friend on a recent visit to Miami’s Yardbird I was smitten. In fact, everything about Yardbird wooed the eater in me. The mason jar lights, the faux chalk drawings that meld calligraphy and folk art, the biscuits, the cheese waffles, and the fried chicken.
Even the website is designed to charm. It’s not Yardbird.com, but the much catchier runchickenrun.com. You know a URL is good when you can remember it forever after seeing it once.
I’ll also remember my meal. The house-made ricotta and local winter strawberries would have been a fine appetizer, but the addition of pickled radishes brought a virtuoso southern harmony to the dish. The Fried Chicken was so tender that chunks of meat fell away from the bone as I nibbled the crunchy skin. I like the fact that other than salt and pepper all I can remember is the flavor of chicken melting in my mouth with no overbearing or unnecessary herbs or spices to distract. So often the goal in making chicken is to make it taste like something other than chicken, based on the belief that chicken is bland. Yardbird’s fried chicken proves that chicken cooked right ought to taste like chicken.
If a simple dessert can curl your toes, Yardbird’s Mounds Jar might be that dessert. It’s basically coconut and chocolate cream pie in a jar. I’m already over the everything-in-jars trend, but this dessert could have been served in a reused cottage cheese tub and I’d have scraped the bottom clean. The coconut cream was as concentrated as a pudding or mousse can be, but without any of that less-than-creamy mouthfeel so often haunting desserts into which lesser chefs have hedged their bets with gelatin or starches. The chocolate on the bottom was dusky; it was so dense and dark-toned that I kept closing my eyes as I swirled it in my mouth so that taste and texture became my world for a few seconds. The dense creamy macaroon bar on the side didn’t hurt the overall effect.
If I lived in Miami I’d be regular.