What: The Yard American Smokehouse & Barbecue
Where: 1 & 1A, Old Bake House, Kala Ghoda
When: 12:30 pm to 12:30 am
Cost : About Rs 1,800 for two
Call: 2281-1023/ 1024
Before opening, most restaurants invite friends, family and potential guests for private dinners. This lets the service and kitchen staff familiarise themselves with the menu, figure out the challenges of a new space and work as a team.
It’s would appear that The Yard has not run any of these exercises. The genial servers couldn’t answer the simplest questions about the menu.
When I enquired about the sauce served with the lamb shanks, I was told ‘it’s a brown sauce’. A waiter with more initiative inquired with the kitchen, and returned to inform me that it was a ‘conkachie’ sauce. This the manager tried to pass off as an alternative pronunciation of ‘concasse’.
The servers weren’t particularly attentive either. Despite being the only diners there, we had to call out loudly to get cutlery.
The interiors, meant to resemble an industrial yard, look more like a workshop that has seen better days. Distressed walls, analogue switches, Edison bulbs and semi-private dining areas separated by corrugated aluminium sheets have been used to create an atmosphere of shabby warehouse chic. It’s tacky, but not really annoying — except for the kitchen service door, fashioned from a corrugated sheet and a changing-room-locker door. It bangs loudly every time it shuts.
Though the menu claims to be ‘inspired by the industrial revolution & great tastes of those times’ it’s pretty straightforward casual dining, with a strong accent on meats. We started with a French onion soup that was so overpoweringly flavoured with rosemary, we abandoned it halfway.
Studded with garlic cloves and topped with oregano, the oven-baked camembert cheese fared much better. It was nice and runny and spread easily on the accompanying toasted garlic bread.
The one thing The Yard has got right is their meats — which are of great quality and perfectly cooked. The paper-thin slices of tenderloin of the carpaccio, served on a rectangular black tile, were fresh and unencumbered by unnecessary flavourings.
The topping of arugula, parmesan shavings and a balsamic drizzle, which appeared as a side salad with every course, was reminiscent of the presentation at the old 212 Bar and Grill in Worli. It came as no surprise then that Mikhail Shahani, previously the executive chef at 212, had devised the menu.
The braised lamb shanks were delightfully tender and meaty, though the sauce was dull. Since only the black pepper and mustard crusted tenderloin was available from the barbecue menu, we went with that. What a surprise it turned out to be! The meat was perfectly seasoned, you could taste the green peppers in the jus and, best of all, the meat was actually medium-rare and not overcooked.
All in all, it seems like The Yard is a passion project that needs industrial-sized dose of professionalism if it wants to survive in a competitive neighbourhood in the midst of a renaissance.
(HT reviews anonymously and pays for meals)