I know where the best roast chicken in the world is - Puno, Peru. Its a little place called El Rancho, family restaurant. You have few simple choices:
- How much chicken do you want - quarter, half, whole
- Do you want chips?
- Do you want salad?
- Do you want Inca Cola or Regular cola in a 2l bottle.
Well someone has stole the concept and brought it to Belfast. They added the bonus of a pub downstairs, set it in a beautiful old building, threw in some marketing genius with a brand name that can be applied to just about anything, and simplified the menu.
Yardbird has a pure simplicity to it. You have very few choices to make. There is a total of 30 items on the menu including all drinks and deserts. That's just genius in terms of becoming famous for food. Main meal wise you have 5 choices to make.
- How much chicken do you want - quarter, half, whole?
- Do you want chips?
- Do you want corn?
- Do you want coleslaw?
- Do you want avocado salad?
I settled in for a half chicken, deep down I knew I could handle a whole bird but as a solo table I thought best to act like a normal person and demolish a half one. I threw in chips with skin and avocado salad. Realitively healthy.
These guys have branded everything. They even bottled their own beer, and created two really great sauces. The sauces, my new friends Smokey and Hot, were even best friends with chicken and chips. I have a gold taste award for a few sauces I worked on with my chef cousin, so I know good sauce. The secret in their smokey sauce was liquid smoke, genuinely smokey in a good way. Hot was not tame it was proper HOT. The Yardbird beer, an American IPA was drinkable, but not as flowery as I like - it was no Punk IPA.
The kitchen was on view with those golden birds being spit roasted after being dry rubbed to get them going. It was technically chicken porn, I set my seat up with the best seat in the house to watch them get ready to be eaten.
Service was über fast, and that's the beauty of a simple menu. As expected the chicken was meaty, flavoursome and juicy. In order to get the whole experience, I poured out both sauces. Chicken became a sauce delivery mechanism and I then wished I went for the whole bird.
The best supporting actor in this Oscar winning performance was the tomato salsa that they served on the avocado salad. My guess was it was made with tomatoes, vinegar, tons of fresh lemon, garlic and herbs and spices. Yardbird you need to bottle this too, and when you do - send me a few cases!
Overall it was the perfect dinner for me. You go to Yardbird when you want chicken and you get so much more than just chicken; you get truly awesome chicken.
A must for any visit to Belfast, and hit the Dirty Onion up afterward, who have music every night. The massive beer garden must make this the best place to be mid-Summer.