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Quest For the Best Happy Hour – Yard House

After a brief hiatus, I’m back with an unprecedented appetite and two recent realizations about myself.

#1, I can no longer pretend that salad is better than wings, and #2, I’m always in search of a good happy hour.

Thanks to the latter epiphany, I found myself at Yard House in Moorestown around 11 p.m. on a Wednesday night.  Sure, I could’ve been home watching re-runs of Cupcake Wars and screaming at my t.v.  Instead, I was sampling a happy hour I’ve heard so much about.

It was a relaxed ambiance, with people seated at every other table.  For a weeknight, this was a great turn out.  Indeed, I had great vibes about this.

I ordered the spicy Thai chicken pizza, chicken lettuce wraps, spicy tuna roll and the poke nachos, all of which came to $30 (without tax and tip).

My eyes bulged with surprise when I saw my food approaching.  The portions were far bigger than most appetizers I’d ever had.  So, I inconspicuously unbuttoned my pants in preparation for the feast.

I started with the beautiful pizza.  The chicken, cilantro and macadamia nuts trickled across the shiny cheese made it such a gorgeous indulgence.

The first thing I tasted upon biting into it was a sweet and tangy firecracker sauce.  There was tremendous crunch from the nuts, fresh carrots and green onions.  I also enjoyed the texture and thickness of the crust. Had I eaten this in a blind taste test, I would’ve assumed this pie was from an actual pizzeria.  The balance of flavors was perfection.

The chicken lettuce wraps were next and I adored the presentation.  I’ve gotten lettuce wraps before, but never have they come in an edible tortilla bowl.  It was official, Yard House had won this greedy girl over.

I scooped a large portion of the chicken and green onion mixture onto a romaine leaf, smothered it in all three dipping sauces (one was a peanut sauce, the other a thai chili sauce, and I can’t recall the third one, but it tasted like a vinaigrette). I love lettuce wraps because they’re fresh and crisp and when paired with savory meats and sweet sauces, they taste like heaven.  The meat had been marinated in what tasted to be a soy based mixture, allowing the Asian influence to continue into this dish.

My favorite app of the night, unquestionably, was the poke nachos.  The description boasted a dish featuring marinated raw ahi, avocado, cilantro, serranos, green onions, nori, sesame seeds, sweet soy, sriracha aïoli, and white truffle sauce, all on top of crispy wontons.  I was still uncertain of what to expect, but knew these wouldn’t be your average nachos.

The ahi was thick and juicy with just enough salt to bring out its natural, raw flavor.  The freshly fried wontons were beyond addictive and perfectly crunchy.  Like the ahi, they too were well salted.  The avocado and aioli gave the nachos creaminess, while the serranos provided much appreciated spice.  The nori and sweet soy gave a little more salt, while the cilantro (one of my favorite ingredients) provided its signature fragrant grassiness. This was a phenomenal dish that I’d recommend to anyone, even those skeptical of consuming raw foods.

As if my stomach hadn’t been packed enough, I had to make room for the spicy tuna roll.  The presentation was a wonderful deconstructed take on a traditional roll.  There was a mound of edamame and diced cucumber atop a soy sauce puddle.  Above the veggies was a thick layer of fresh tuna that sat just beneath the top layer of avocado.

I sank my fork down through the pile, allowing all ingredients to ease their way onto my fork and collectively into my mouth (All except edamame. I hate that stuff!).  The tuna had great texture and a nice mild spice.  The avocado, of course, was nice and creamy, but I couldn’t help but notice how salty the puddle of soy sauce made everything.  For me, it was almost inedible, as the salt stuck to my tongue and wouldn’t go anywhere.  I would’ve preferred the soy on the side so that I could monitor the amount I’d consume.

Overall, I was absolutely impressed with the quality of the food at Yard House.  You could taste the love and attention put into each dish, even at a discounted price.

I know I say this often, but this for sure will be on my list of regular visits.

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The poke nachos after they were devoured. Sorry!

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