Dear Out & About readers:
A lot’s gone on, Straight Beef-wise, since our last review. We dishonorably discharged one member (story here) and inducted two new ones (story here). Through it all, we remain committed to achieving the highest levels of burgiatric criticism and the protection of one’s inalienable right to the pursuit of burger bliss.
Michael, Scott, Chad, and Don
The Straight Beef
Yard House (Raleigh)
“All during the 45-minute wait for a table I was certain that a staff member would spot my
LL Bean Relaxed Fit jeans and rat me out as the suburbanite among the pretty people.
I had the urge to pop my collar and call someone ‘bro’ just to fit in.” –Chad
Chad’s Review: Pay No Attention to the Burger Behind the Curtain
The Yard House is loud. The music is loud. The conversation is loud. The artwork is loud. The burgers are big and flashy, with intense and exotic toppings. Just to be contrary, I ordered a Classic, as plain and simple as I could get it, to see what was under the hood.
What I got for my $14 was a decent hamburger, competently cooked, but no more than that. The real stars of the menu are the big bold burgers—pepper-crusted, caramelized, glazed with pineapple and “Aloha Sauce,” or tarted up with lobster and asparagus, the muscular toppings obscuring the undistinguished but well-prepared patty. Like the Wizard of Oz, once you pull back the curtain (or bun) you realize that all of the sturm und drang is just a distraction, albeit a tasty one. Three out of 5.
Scott’s Review: Don’t Be Saucy With Me, Béarnaise
Somewhere in North Raleigh I must have entered some sort of space-travel wormhole leading to the opulent chic-fest that is Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Certainly nowhere our fair, modest Triangle, I had assumed, would people squeeze themselves into their tightest, blackest duds for the right to wait an hour for a Fresh & Skinny Martini. But I was wrong. So Wrong.
In an attempt to appear at least minimally chichi, I ordered a burger with an accent in its name: The Béarnaise. (Not The Béarnaise Burger, mind you, just The Béarnaise.) The burger was good—its fried onions a tasty foil for its tender, flavorful patty—though truth be told, I was too busy voguing to fully focus. What I do know is that wherever I might have been—be it Raleigh or 86th and Lex—I was squarely in Three-town. My rating: 3.75.
Don’s Review: Too Much Turf, Not Enough Surf
The Yard House is about atmosphere and image—loud, colorful, and vivacious. This they make obvious as they take you on a lap around the huge, elliptical bar before seating you at a table you passed when you started your journey.
The burger choices were plentiful, but my eyes were drawn to the Surf & Turf—a powerful lineup featuring Maine lobster sautéed in garlic butter, grilled asparagus, Swiss cheese, and tomato béarnaise. Unfortunately, I was to suffer a severe case of “antici-pointment.” The burger was not cooked to order, and the béarnaise was, without warning, replaced with spinach—a definite letdown. And though I could see the lobster, its taste was smothered by the patty and too much asparagus. I give this burger a 3—too much missing from the show.
Michael’s Review: A Tsunami of Flavor
The flavor of the Pepper Crusted Gorgonzola burger—with marsala sautéed crimini mushrooms, caramelized onions, and baby spinach—matched Yard House’s décor: intense. The spinach was like a man yelling at a tsunami, useless against the onslaught of marsala, pepper, and Gorgonzola. Because the cook didn’t try to blacken the patty (which often happens in an attempted to create a crust on a patty), the combination worked very well overall. Any hint of char was imperceptible.
If you are looking for a place to enjoy a quiet dinner, avoid Yard House. If you want an interesting burger and don’t mind yelling to be heard, this is the place to be. I give the burger a 4 out of 5.
Scott Blumenthal, Michael Marino, Chad Ward and Donald Corey are The Straight Beef, professional burgiatrists who review, rate and rank Triangle-area burgers on their award-winning blog. You can read more about The Straight Beef, including their education and scholarship, ratings system, and burger categorization method here.