Pau Hana Patrol: Yard House Waikiki
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / firstname.lastname@example.org
Well all right, Yard House — now that’s what I call a happy hour!
On weekday afternoons and late-night Sundays through Wednesdays, you make a good selection of your appetizers available at half price — and it’s a true discount, with your generous plates served just as they are during prime time.
226 Lewers St.
To sweeten the deal, you offer discounts on pretty much every kind of alcohol you serve, from high-alcohol Belgian beer to crafted cocktails to house wine, bringing the cost of grabbing a drink in Waikiki down below prices offered at many a bar in town.
What can I say? Thank you for being you.
The Yard House experience is pretty much the same it has been since opening in Waikiki in 2007 — not that there’s anything wrong with that. The national chain of beer-obsessed restaurants has a firm grasp on its mission, which is to serve up generous plates of better-than-average, pub-friendly fare and a mind-boggling array of international draft beers (along with a decent craft cocktail menu) in a cavelike, comfortable, classic-rock-blaring refuge from sun, sand and traffic.
With a pleasingly loud soundtrack that ranges from Pink Floyd and Foghat to the B-52s and Kings of Leon, more beer than any crowd could drink in one sitting and a young staff revved up to handle the crowds that descend on Yard House day through night, the atmosphere is friendly and vibrant.
At night, the crowd is more likely to be young, and there are plenty of groups of friends, some tourists, some service workers who might be just off their own shifts. That adds more good energy to the room.
I wouldn’t expect the Yard House happy-hour menu to win any culinary prizes, but it aims to please with large portions and value prices.
Choose from the restaurant’s pizzas or sliders, or from a selection of appetizers that are big enough to share among three or four. And remember that the plates are full-sized, not scaled down for happy hour.
I sampled the delicious seared-ahi sashimi (regularly $14.95), a spicy tuna “roll” (regularly $13.95) that is actually a tower of avocado, ahi, edamame and cucumber with wasabi soy sauce, and a plate of lettuce wraps that was almost intimidating in its size and potential for satisfaction. The dish includes stir-fried, smoked tofu, pine nuts and green onions and a choice of chicken (regularly $12.85), tiger shrimp ($14.85) or shiitake and portobello mushrooms ($12.85), served in a crispy wonton bowl with three dipping sauces.
Not realizing how generous the portions would be, I found this was more than enough for two people.
I’ll bring more friends next time.
Yard House offers nirvana for beer lovers. I spotted an Anderson Valley Belgian Tripel (regularly $7 a pint, brewed on the Northern California coast) and Imperial IPA ($7.25), that I would definitely want to try. But this time around, I went for the Upper Manhattan (regularly $10.50), a drink with Bulleit rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, peach puree and orange bitters.
Our server warned me it would be “strong,” but I would prefer to call it robust; that drink stiffened up my backbone, warmed my heart and made me glad I spotted it on the menu.
Yard House hits the spot, and I like the late-night option. I will be back.