The Yard - Santa Monica
The restaurant biz is nothing if not cyclical: one day your joint is jumping, the next day you're telling the wait staff to seat the table at the window to make your pathetically empty place look popular.
So, The Yard. Apparently before I moved out west, it was a bit of a ho-hum, one among the many choices a stone's throw from Santa Monica's famous 3rd Street Promenade. Then former Top Chef CJ Jacobsen took over and re-tooled the gastropub menu and voila, awesome fish tacos, etc. Then CJ left in January (did I say that the restaurant business is cyclical?). So, now what? Well, their website seems to be offline -- still advertising this past February's Oscar party.
Not a good start.
Went there on a recent Wednesday night with a buddy for a few beers and some grub. We, of course, had the fish tacos. They were very good. Not a home run, but a solid stand-up double. The puffy tortilla (deep fried) was a nice touch and not overly oily. Fish was fresh. I prefer crema to salsa on my fish tacos, but otherwise fine.
Of course, the beers were good. And the hostess, who also waited on us (it was a Wednesday night, so limited staff) was knowledgeable about the beer selection.
I did notice (as many other reviewers have) that the prices do seem a bit high for food positioned as gastropub fare. Betting that happy hour is probably the ticket for most -- as $10 apps magically become $7 apps. Amazing.