• quick bites: gardein at yard house

    January 23rd, 2011quarrygirlLA restaurants, yard house

    today’s quick bite comes to us from friend and quarrygirl reader patricia, who is also a bad-ass vegan certified massage therapist and yoga instructor (check her out!).

    there has been a lot of talk in the vegan community about the new availability of gardein (an awesome vegan meat substitute) at yard house (our favorite chain of beer bars). here patricia addresses our concerns about cross-contamination, and explains why yard house doesn’t specifically classify any of their menu items as “vegan”. check it:

    do you guys remember a while back when yard house was testing gardein in their restaurants? well, unlike Chipotle, it is now offered on their printed menu under a separate “vegetarian” section. i’ve been to yard house a lot and i always order the same amazing “chop salad” (without bacon) at the pasadena location. the salad has no lettuce but it’s a bunch of chopped delicious veggies: avocado, celery, corn, onions cucumber, and tomato. last night no one felt like driving so we took the metro to the downtown location which is about a four block walk from the 7th street station. the place was especially packed thanks to the clipper game that was happening literally next door. so i contribute the busyness, in part, to why i ended up with my usual chopped salad accidentally served with a few scraps of bacon. we were sitting at the bar and just so happens when i got the bartender’s attention to show him my salad the manager was standing right next to him. they were both very apologetic and i asked if i could order something different. i didn’t want to spend my time picking through plate of vegetables looking for bacon bits.

    veggie fried chicken strips with fries. $9.65

    so round two brought me the “veggie fried chicken strips” served with fries and i asked for it without the (non-vegan) sauce. here’s where the veganocity of yard house gets questionable. the manager explained to me that the fries are cooked in a separate fryer and although the “chicken” strips’ ingredients were vegan that they are fried in the same oil as chicken. well, clearly i’d prefer everything cooked separately but this time i just said “fuck it”…

    these deep fried and battered babies were pretty damn good. if you can’t tell from the blurry picture my plate looked similar to a plate of fish and chips. i would love to order these again and ask if they can fry them in the french fry fryer (which i didn’t think of at the time). i’ve never worked in a restaurant kitchen but i hope that’s something that can be reasonably done cause i almost hate to say that this was the best prepared gardein i have eaten.

    the gardein menu is not online yet but i snapped a (partial) shot of it. the little green dots indicates “may contain animal products” the obvious dishes that have cheese and egg are not marked with this little dot. we’re left with some sandwiches, salads, and bar food things. while speaking to the manager i asked him about how the vegetarian dishes are cooked and if the grill top was cleaned first. no such luck. he said this is why they don’t use the word vegan. the individual pans are clean but when something is cooked on the flat range top they are so busy they don’t clean it.

    over all, it was a decent experience. i don’t mind so much if an omni restaurant screws up an order (that’s part of the logical risk of eating there) if they are polite and apologetic, as the yardhouse was. as i would expect, my salad was removed from the bill and my second dish was comped as well. i will definitely be back for a few of their (over 130 tap) beers but most likely go back to my dear chopped salad.

    Tags: ,

48 responses to “quick bites: gardein at yard house” RSS icon

  • I this new at every location?

  • Gauri Radha गौरी राधा

    So like a vegan version of fish and chips? It looks good at any rate.

  • Gardein is at every location! Too bad they cook it with the meat, but with enough questions you can get a vegan meal.

  • That’s wonderful that they gave you such customer service! If only everywhere could be that courteous and knowledgable about veganism.

  • Seems so weird that they’d bother carrying a vegan product but then not really care about its preparation. Is it that much harder to have a few separate pans in the kitchen or something? Just seems like it’s not that difficult to just do it right….

  • I applaud them for avoiding the vegan label bif they can’t guarantee anything is really vegan (huge props for that, actually!) But calling it “veggie” is no better. If it has meat on it, it ain’t veggie either.

    I don’t normally hold restaurants to this high of a standard, but by shying away from the vegan label for the reason listed shows they have a clear understanding of and sensitivity to the definitions.

    Perhaps they just need to differentiate real chicken from fake, but the wordplay is frustrating in this case.

    I really do appreciate the effort and Ill give this place a shot if they clean up the execution.

  • …but don’t you find it a bit strange that they take the initiative to carry the product & be specific about things in the menu….but don’t take the time to prepare it in a way to make vegetarians/vegans happy? It’s like…hey, let’s do this thing 90% and stop.

  • I wouldn’t eat that even if I was starving. I’d have another beer and some nuts instead. Noy having a pop just that my guts would kill me for it for a couple of days after.

    Having worked in catering I’m guessing they don’t cross fry so as to make the chip fat last a lot longer.

    Another one to avoid for food it seems.

  • ewww, you totally ate chicken!

  • I agree with you here Greg, obviously. But, most people who eat “vegetarian” food items like this aren’t vegetarian and probably don’t care. While the vocal minority of us real vegetarians and vegans do care, I bet at a place like this catering to “us” would do little for their bottom line.

    Best thing we can do is try to talk to te company and make direct and simple suggestions such as having a few veg pans or making some effort to wash grill etc…

    I for one would love to drive to down town long beach and have a beer and some gardein. Looks goddamn delicious!

  • Vegans like you are not just annoying, you are actually counter-productive to the vegan cause.

    Worrying about cross-contamination is pointless and doesn’t save any animals. Plus, you are fooling yourself if you think most restaurants give a shit.

  • Agreed. Basically if You aren’t at a 100.000% vegan restaurant then there is always the possibility and in fact likelihood that you are eating food that isn’t vegan from time to time. This means chipotle, z pizza, “veg” chinese restaurants or anywhere.

    If the restaurant isn’t vegan then they don’t care about veganism to the same level as vegan diners.

  • I concur 100% w/ Ally. To vegans, yes of course one of the things WE first consider, second to the content of course, is where/how is it cooked. BUT not many other people take this into consideration. Not because they’re ignorant a-holes, it’s because they just don’t have the mindset that we have. Hell, when I first stopped eating meat as a kid, I still wore a leather belt because I simply hadn’t thought of it at that particular time (baby steps). I’m not justifying it or anything, but people seem to be looking passed the very fact that a major chain restaurant actually carries vegan meat products. 5 years ago, name one major chain restaurant where you could get anything besides a Gardenburger veggie patty? It’s about progress, and yes it can be frustrating because it takes forever and vegans are still an extreme minority, but every little step is largely important. For instance, the fact that the vegan chicken at Chipotle didn’t take, pretty much sucks. I do agree that it wasn’t marketed well (plus it tasted pretty bland and was cooked poorly), but still the fact that it was there was important. And if we just stick our nose up at every little detail that isn’t 100% vegan approved right away, then we’ll never get anywhere. It’s true, unless you’re back in the kitchen watching it be prepared, you’ll most likely never know what grill, fryer, cutting board, knife, surface, or HANDS it touched that had been in contact with meat prior to making it to your plate.

  • for those of you who may feel discouraged there’s one more positive thing i forgot to mention: the manager is omni and said he eats gardein from the restaurant at least 5 times a week. he said he enjoys the taste and has more energy at work. the best part about that is that i hope this comes through if/when people inquire about the product 🙂

  • I appreciate that they have it, but there is a point where I won’t even bother if it involves too many questions and/or special requests to make it vegan. If it’s too complicated, I just don’t go. I hope the Gardein is successful there for the sake of Gardein itself, but I couldn’t be less interested in ever going to Yardhouse.

  • Yes to Gregalor and Greg C and EricM. Honestly this is an easy pass since it’s not that difficult in L.A. to eat at one of the 20-something vegan restaurants, rather than roll the dice at an omni place.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine if a chain wants to add these foods to their menu, just be aware it’s for their existing customers and for PR, not necessarily for us. Our market is not that large yet that a Yard House or Chipotle needs to cater to us. Like Ally said – they don’t give a shit.

    Personally I have no urge to support them, especially considering my vegan money will go toward expanding their business, therefore killing more animals. There are a lot of times I can’t control this, but this one is easy. I’m sure that makes me “annoying and counterproductive,” but I’m beyond caring what other vegans think of me.

  • i absolutely love seeing what everybody has to say about this. it makes me miss the forums. 🙁 RIP

  • It also doesn’t seem like my kind of place at all. I’ve never been to one, but from all the reviews I’ve read, it sounds like a sports bar chain. THAT sounds more annoying than the food.

  • Gauri Radha गौरी राधा

    Hi QG, just wondering, any chance the forum might come back anytime soon?

    I was quite appreciative of it, I must say. Starting off in the past couple years as a vegetarian with no clue about anything vegan, I learned so much in that forum. People posted so many helpful replies and recommendations in response to questions.

    I understand if it’s not possible to resurrect it in near future though. Those spam-bots were beyond ridiculous! So many of them posting such crazy pointless nonsense all the time. Oh my gosh they were so annoying. And I imagine it was time-consuming to keep editing and cleaning up the mess they made. In which case yea, would be very understandable to keep the forum closed down for now.

  • That’s why I only eat at 100% vegan restaurants.

  • Eww, you totally are a cunt Denise!

  • I second Gauri Radha’s question. What happened to the forums, and will they be back?

  • about the forums, they got hacked and we had to take them down for a bit. hopefully we will bring them back soon. 🙁 sorry everyone.

  • Yep! This (free speech, encouragement of participation) is one of the reasons this blog is SO popular! There is just NOTHING like it!

  • Not everyone reading the blog lives in LA.

    For those of us on the other (far less vegan-friendly) parts of the country, we really appreciate the big chain coverage and welcome the baby steps toward vegan dining coming to our areas.

  • Am I crazy? I’m kind of surprised at the lack of reaction here. Deep frying my supposedly vegan gardein in a vat of oil that is literally full of dead bird juices is not only disgusting but is most definitely not vegan. The argument that “worrying about cross-contamination is pointless and doesn’t save any animals” is ridiculous and in my opinion, significantly more counterproductive to veganism than Denise’s snarky comment.
    I know that not everyone has the luxury of patronizing only 100% vegan establishments, and sometimes we have to compromise on a place that also serves animal products. Cross contamination is a possibility. But the fact that someone would be smart enough to inquire as to the preparation of their food beforehand and -still- order it means to me that they really just don’t care. They might as well just take a bite of a chicken wing. Just because you weren’t personally responsible for ordering it doesn’t mean it’s not all over your plate. I think that as far as productivity is concerned, letting establishments know that preparation is indeed important to whether or not something is considered vegan is just about the best thing you can do if you decide to try and dine at an omni-restaurant.

    My two cents.

  • Compromise is SO much a part of life. I enjoy eating Wendy’s french fries, for instance, and won’t give them up just because they might have been fried in the same oil used for chicken. Nevertheless, I can truthfully say that I eat a PREDOMINANTLY vegan diet and am very proud of it. : )

  • @deepfried in regards to “They might as well just take a bite of a chicken wing.” What bothers me about this statement is that it’s unfair unless you apply it across the board. Do you drive a car? Do you take public transportation? Do you live in a house/apartment? The reason I bring this up is because, I’m pretty sure that ingredients for any of these things more likely than not, contain animal ingredients. The paint, the glue, the factory that the parts were manufactured in, the oil, the adhesives, etc. etc. etc. And yes, I completely agree with you 100% that we, as vegans, need to teach establishments the necessity of cooking vegan, means not mixing w/ animal products, but my whole point is that Yardhouse is taking a step in the right direction. And to be honest, I could care less about who they’re catering to. The fact of the matter is that they are carrying a product that is not of animal origin, and if someone orders that instead of a real chicken wing, to me that’s progress. And my point about the car/house/apartment is that unless someone lives on a deserted island far far away from society, than it’s pretty much impossible to be truly 110% vegan. And what gets frustrating is the whole “i’m more vegan than you are mentality”.

  • i’m so vegan, i don’t even eat out at restaurants anymore.

  • Yeah – I noticed the “may contain animal products” with the green dots when I went there, but they consider dairy cheese to not fall under the “containing animal products” sub-genre of food.

    What they don’t realize that the definition of VEGAN is “not containing animal products”. It’s simple. I went once and probably won’t go back – I got the veggie bowl with gardein, but I don’t trust the way they prepare their menu items…plus, the staff had NO idea what things were on the vegetarian menu.

  • @thomas j. I think perhaps you missed my point. I’m well aware that there are plenty of things we must compromise in order to function in society today. Yes, if I drive a vehicle or use public transportation, I am using something that either contains or was tested on animals. The same could be said about medicine that might be necessary in order to fight infection. But vehicles, electricity, modern medicine and so on are all, in my opinion, reasonably necessary for my comfort and survival. You cannot say that eating a meal at yardhouse, -knowing- that it is soaked in chicken grease, is even in the same category. It seems to me like the reviewer was just lazy. Personally, I couldn’t compromise my principals to indulge in some fried food. Maybe she could. And really, that’s her business. My issue is that if you eat an obviously non-vegan meal and then submit it to a blog that exclusively reviews vegan food/options, you should expect to get some flak.

  • It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why “this was the best prepared gardein i have eaten.”

  • ha ha! i can’t rule that out i guess. but i’d be surprised if i had the same dish prepared in a different setting and didn’t enjoy it the same. there’s alot of vegan meats i don’t eat because the taste is a little too real for me. match meats is at the top of that list, followed second by all vegan bacon.

  • Vegetarian bacon is made simply by adding smoke flavoring and salt to anything. If you avoid veggie bacon because you think it tastes too much like real bacon, it’s bacon’s fault for tasting like something that’s completely vegetarian in the first place. (Hopefully that all made sense.)

  • The green dots on the menu actually indicate non-vegetarian ingredients. The caesar has anchovies, the Enchilada Stack has chicken broth in the red and green sauce, and the Mac and Cheese has bacon (and quite possibly chicken broth, but I’m not 100% on that one). The Rum BBQ that comes with the Jerk wings contains worcestershire, so avoid that. The cajun aioli (on the Spicy Chik’n) contains worcestershire as well. As far as cross contamination goes, it’s a restaurant, it will happen no matter what.

  • Thanks dks64, good to know.
    I’ve eaten at this place 3 times. All times I ordered the Chicken Strips. I frikin love that Maple Mustard. Anyway, 1 resturant made it perfect. The other resturant made it both times overly battered & kinda burnt. I think if it’s a Yardhouse out in the boonies where veggie people don’t live & hence order that stuff, the staff don’t know how to really prepare it. Just sharin….
    Yes I know it’s cross-contaminated. I assume every place I eat at that’s not completely vegan will have cross contamination. I do the best I can. Well actually, the best I can would be to not eat at any non-vegan resturant.

  • I love being able to compromise, given that this seems to be a requisite for enjoying life. When my partner and I were visiting my mother and her husband in Fort Smith, Arkansas last summer, we accompanied them to the local Furr’s buffet restaurant several times. Furr’s makes no claim that ANY of their vegetable dishes are vegetarian, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them contain animal broth (anyone who was born in the South will understand why I say this…; )) but I went right ahead and selected any of them that appealed to me, realizing that there was no alternative unless I opted to just have salad. Nor did we worry when dining at a Vietnamese restaurant and at a Middle Eastern/Indian one: we just picked whichever dishes we wanted as long as the descriptions did not list meat or, in my case, dairy or eggs (the Vietnamese restaurant had a vegetarian section on the menu). Of course, if Fort Smith HAD any vegetarian restaurants, the situation would have been at least somewhat different, but since it doesn’t, we just did the best we could and enjoyed the meals!

  • omg fritz!!!
    my bf’s family lives in arkansas and we were down there for four days during the holidays. fortunately i did a lot of vegan cooking for the family and they ate and (i think) enjoyed it. but when i didnt cook it was plates of vegges galore! i can totally relate 🙂 🙂

  • Ah, veggies-and-salads vacations. Toilets everywhere quake in fear.

  • By the same token I know people who don’t use cars and live in yurts without electricity who would challenge that electricity and vehicles are reasonably necessary for your comfort… in the end there is always going to be someone more “hardcore” than you (general you) and I think that is the point that thomas j. was trying to make.

  • I know this is mixing issues, but just a heads up for other pinko libruls like myself…

    I was excited to get to Yard House after a friend told me about the Gardein additions, but then I saw the owner’s name pop up on a list of contributors to the “Yes on 8” campaign (serendipitous timing, I suppose). Between this and the fry oil, I’ll probably just pass on this one.


  • I just posted this on the other YH post you have, adding it here too:

    I cannot guarantee that no cross contamination will happen, nor can I guarantee that other restaurants don’t tweak their recipes a bit, so confirm with the location you visit. Here’s a list of vegan items at YH:

    -Gardein Chicken Rice Bowl
    -Greek Salad (No Feta)
    -Grilled Romaine (No Gorgonzola and dressing)
    -House Salad (No Dressing)
    -Mixed Greens Salad (No Croutons)
    -Summer Salad
    -Walnut Pear Salad (No Bleu cheese crumbles)
    -Mushroom Wraps
    -Grilled Artichoke (No Garlic Aioli)
    -Angel Hair Pasta (No Feta or Parmesan)
    -Gardein chicken or burger patty
    -Truffle and Garlic Fries (No Parmesan)
    -Guacamole and Chips (No Feta)
    -Jasmine or Brown Rice
    -Potato Chips

    -Soy Vinaigrette
    -Balsamic Vinaigrette
    -Spiced Balsamic Vinaigrette
    -Aloha Sauce

    I have no idea if any of the breads are vegan, although I think it’s likely the sourdough is. Avoid the Mediterranean burger, the portobello cap is marinated in worcestershire.

  • Forgot to mention that the dipping sauces with the mushroom wraps aren’t vegan, all contain honey.

  • i wish i could “like” brittany’s comment 🙂

  • In case anyone still checks here, I went to the Yardhouse tonight after reading this entry. I told the very helpful waitress my dietary restrictions and she said the Gardein chicken strips had egg in the batter. I said, “Are you sure?” She said, “Yes, I’m positive — anything battered here has egg in it.”

    I don’t know if Patricia asked and was given bad information, but this waitress seemed positive that their batter always had egg in it.

  • In case anyone still checks here, I went to the Yardhouse tonight after reading this entry. I told the very helpful waitress my dietary restrictions and she said the Gardein chicken strips had egg in the batter. I said, “Are you sure?” She said, “Yes, I’m positive — anything battered here has egg in it.”

    I don’t know if Patricia asked and was given bad information, but this waitress seemed positive that their batter always had egg in it.

  • I ordered the Gardein Buffalo wings, and they accidentally served me boneless chicken wings. My friend, who eats meat, was like, “these are real”. My boyfriend arrived later, ordered the same thing, and it was nothing like I ordered. His were the fake, mine were real.

    So please, be careful. It’s been so long since I have eaten meat (16 years) and I had no clue what it really tasted like anymore. Make sure to really inspect your gardein, and if you have a meat eater along, have them take a look.


  • Went to Yardhouse today and ordered the Gardein chicken after explaining to the waiter we came specifically to try the Gardein items. The waiter got our order wrong and brought us real chicken. If they are going to carry these items, they need to explain the importance of not serving dead animals to vegetarians/vegans. Disgusted and will never go back!

1 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

Leave a reply