Food News

Yardbird's 27-Hour Brine Renders Impressive Fried Chicken, But Don't Skip the Biscuits

Lewellyn's fine fried chicken: 1/2  bird, brined for 27 hours and served with honey hot sauce.
Lewellyn's fine fried chicken: 1/2 bird, brined for 27 hours and served with honey hot sauce. Hank Vaughn
Yardbird opened a couple of years ago near downtown in the Park District, and it's become a popular restaurant, particularly for brunch. It originated in Miami and spread to Vegas, D.C., L.A., Chicago ... and Singapore. The Southern-heavy menu includes buttermilk biscuits, deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes and chicken 'n' watermelon waffles.The place uses a 27-hour brining process for its fried chicken.

We'd yet to try Yardbird, but were lured over during DFW Restaurant Week, which just ended Monday. But the beauty of that annual event is trying new places while also contributing to a good cause.

While we contemplated our menu choices, we decided to order a couple of cocktails: a blackberry bourbon lemonade (Jim Beam, blackberry, lemon juice, bitters) and a Yardbird old-fashioned (bacon-infused bourbon, maple syrup, bitters, water).

These were on the moderately-pricey range at $16 each. We decided on the drinks and then waited ... and waited ... for the server to return to take the drink order. It was almost 10 minutes before he did. Of course, we intended to sip these while deciding our meal order proper, but the drinks took a long time to arrive. They didn’t arrive until after our starters, probably an additional 15 minutes. Of course, often Restaurant Week is a bit busy, so we adapt. Were they worth the wait? Eh. They were average.
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Yardbird Old Fashioned and a blackberry bourbon lemonade
Hank Vaughn
For starters, we went with the fried green tomato BLT and the chicken tortilla soup. Here again, a couple of Restaurant Week variables came into play. Some places change the serving size during Restaurant Week (after all, they are donating 20% of the proceeds to charities), and some don’t. It’s really a crapshoot, and one should never go into this thinking that money will be saved; often, it’s a break-even situation. But again, the point should be supporting local charities while also getting to try places you might otherwise never visit.

Yardbird seems to be one that decreases the portion size: the original marketing said that the fried green tomato BLT came with two portions, but the revised menu that night had changed that to one. The regular menu is ambiguous as to how many are served. Furthermore, the tortilla soup is not on the regular menu at all, which happens sometimes.
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Fried green tomato BLT: house-smoked pork belly, pimento cheese, frisée, smoky tomato jam, lemon vinaigrette.
Hank Vaughn
With that out of the way, how were they? The BLT was really flavorful and full of nice contrasting textures between the pork belly and tomato. It was, however, just one, and a small one at that. This was more of an amuse-bouche than a starter. The soup, on the other hand, was a full bowl, and was rich with southwest flavor and also a party of textures, as well as what appeared to be an entire sliced avocado.
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Chicken tortilla soup: crispy tortillas, fresh cilantro, cumin lime sour cream, fresh avocado.
Hank Vaughn
Our mains were Lewellyn’s fine fried chicken and the house-made short rib ravioli. Yardbird is yet another restaurant (other examples include Roots Southern Table and Stepchild) that touts its brined chicken, in this case a 27-hour brine. Stepchild does 72 hours. There seems to be some sort of brine war going on here, and we the customers are the happy beneficiaries.

This version was moist and not overly fried, full of succulent flavor that was accented by the jar of hot sauce provided, which appears to be de rigueur. This is half a bird, same as the regular menu, where it’s priced at $33, so no skimping here.
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Housemade short rib ravioli: baby portabella, frisée & red onion salad, truffle oil, shaved Reggiano cheese, red wine cream sauce.
Hank Vaughn
The ravioli was portabella, short rib, truffle oil and Reggiano cheese with a red wine cream sauce. This is $32 on the regular menu, and we’re not really sure if the serving size is comparable. It's extremely rich, and a little goes a long way. Perhaps it could have had a brighter flavor component, as it seemed a bit muddied in the darker notes, both visually and in terms of flavors.
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Buttermilk biscuits, honey butter, house-made jam.
Hank Vaughn
We wanted to try the buttermilk biscuits as well, so we put in an order of those. Asked if we wanted them prior to the mains or with the entrées, we opted for the latter. It really didn’t matter, since the mains arrived with no biscuits. Once the server came back to ask how things were we reminded him of the biscuits. He apologized, said they’d comp them, and they came out about five minutes later. These ended up being the highlight of the evening: four to an order, square cut, full of buttery flaky layers and served with whipped honey butter and apple jam.
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Chocolate cherry ice cream sundae & deep-fried Oreo.
Hank Vaughn
Desserts were OK, our selections being deep-fried Oreo and the chocolate cherry ice cream sundae. The Oreo serving was small but warm and satisfying, and the sundae sat upon a rich fudge brownie, though the cherry flavor was a bit lost in the mix.

So, aside from some service issues — probably exacerbated by the increase in traffic related to Restaurant Week — this was a pleasant evening out. The best part: Yardbird validates parking for one of the nearby underground garages.

Yardbird, 2121 N. Pearl St., No. 170, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday – Thursday; 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday
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Hank Vaughn is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing and overthinking his food and drink experiences, both good and bad, from his culinary journeys with his wife across North Texas and beyond.
Contact: Hank Vaughn