Yardbird Southern Table: A Reason to Skip the Beach

Deviled eggs topped with "redneck caviar"

The Miami food scene is changing fast, and I witnessed it this past weekend with an unforgettable meal at Yardbird, chef Jeff McInnis’ ode to Southern cooking.

Since supper reservations were pretty impossible to get, we ended up going for a late Friday lunch. The restaurant was friendly and warm – picture a BBQ joint in a Brooklyn loft – with a high exposed ceiling and industrial light fixtures. Chalk art lined the wall above the open-style kitchen, the place where all the magic happened.

We settled into a great table by the window and ordered cocktails. With their extensive Bourbon list, I decided to try one of their signature drinks, the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade. Made with bourbon, lemon juice, blackberries, cardamom, and sparkling wine, it was slightly sweet and refreshing, and transported me to summer in South Carolina. It turned out to be an ideal compliment to all of the dishes we ordered. The restaurant recommended that we order family-style, and that’s exactly what we did.

We started our Southern feast with Deviled Eggs, which were topped with “redneck caviar” smoked trout roe that gave them a nice savory brine. I couldn’t resist ordering the Florida Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad with seared farmer’s cheese and fresh herbs. The ingredients married each other perfectly: the sweet and crisp watermelon balanced the tart tomatoes and warm firm cheese. I have one word for you: Amazing. Next was Chicken n’ Sweet Potato Dumplings served with a poached egg. We pierced the egg and swirled it around, creating a decadent and delicious broth for the delicate slivers of pulled chicken. I almost forgot the Crab Salad Sally Sammy: fresh chunks of crab in a caper and cream dressing over decadent Sally Lunn bread. Absolutely delightful.

Chicken n' biscuits and grilled corn with hominy

You would think that by now we were pretty full, but nope, we kept on eating. We indulged in Mama’s Chicken and Biscuits, one of the restaurant’s most beloved dishes. Fried crispy chicken on crumbly buttermilk biscuits with pepper jelly and a side of pickles. Is this heaven? It sure tasted like it. Grilled corn was served with large kernels of hominy and tossed with crumbled cornbread had great texture, though too much heat for me. And then one of Southern cooking’s classic dishes: Shrimp and Grits, with a generous ratio of shrimp to grits and topped with a deep and complex broth of caramelized ham, tomatoes, and onions. Unreal.

By now we were ready to pop, but we had to try dessert. I ordered the Strawberry Shortcake with layers of fresh strawberries and cream drizzled with a sweet basil dressing, and a light crumpet. Again, another winner.

There are two kinds of people in the world.

I wouldn’t doubt if Miami were to become the next great food destination. The weather is perfect all year round, there’s gorgeous produce to be grown, and vibrant energy flowing from Latin America and America’s South. I can’t wait. In the meantime, if you go to Miami this summer, skip the beach one afternoon and go to Yardbird. You can work it off tomorrow.

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