Pittsburgh is a beautiful city, full of history and culture — art, technology, sports, and of course, food. If I were to use a restaurant to epitomize my experience in Pittsburgh and at Carnegie Mellon so far, it would be The Yard. It is what I have come to expect from the city.
The Yard has three locations: Market Square, PPG Paints Arena, and — the one I went to and the one closest to campus — Shadyside. Located right off Walnut Street on Bellefonte, The Yard is a nice walk (or short bus ride) away from campus.
I went to the The Yard on a rainy Sunday night, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It was past 9 p.m., and since this is Pittsburgh, the restaurant was mostly empty. The lower level of the restaurant has a larger space, with a nice bar, and the upper level, where our party of ten was quickly seated, is smaller, but also holds an ever-necessary bar. The place has a rustic feel — all wood and brick — that allowed us to relax and simply enjoy our food.
The Yard is known for its creative grilled cheese sandwiches, with names like “The Big Che-Bowski,” "Buffy the Mac Attack Slayer," “Hail, Caesar!” and “Mother of Dragons.” The menu also includes a requisite salad section, with what my friend called a "quality average" Caprese salad. The variety of appetizers includes soft pretzel, buffalo chicken dip and chips, and wings, the latter of which another friend commented "left a little to be desired." The star of The Yard’s show, however, are the grilled cheeses.
Each grilled cheese entrée comes with a small bowl of tomato soup, and potato chips, which you can change to fries, sweet potato fries, or tater tots for an extra fee. The wait was short, and soon our whole table was desperately trying to hold our sandwiches with our hands only to give up when everything fell out and resort to using forks.
Because we couldn’t decide what to order for ourselves, a friend and I each decided to order a different sandwich and then share. I ordered “Pierogies N’At,” a cheddar and gouda grilled cheese with fried pierogies topped with caramelized onions, sauerkraut, and kielbasa. The idea of putting pierogies inside a sandwich is like Primanti’s putting fries in their sandwiches — so very odd, but so very right for Pittsburgh. The grilled cheese is rich and tasty, with all the flavors complementing each other. The pierogies themselves are wonderful, with a thick and chewy dough and a smooth and creamy potato filling. With my order, I added tater tots with parmesan, which were easily the best tater tots I’ve ever had. They were fresh and crispy, and went well with the standard tomato soup.
My friend ordered the popular “Mac Attack,” (which is proudly displayed on the homepage of The Yard’s website) a cheddar grilled cheese sandwich absolutely stuffed with mac ‘n cheese, with a sprinkle of bacon lardons. When it came, the mac ‘n cheese was spilling over the bread onto the tray, and we had to use our forks to eat it. The mac ‘n cheese is great, a level above your normal boxed mac ‘n cheese. For her order, my friend chose sweet potato fries, which all our friends deemed the best side The Yard offers. They are delicious, especially with the buttery cinnamon dip they come with.
The service was simple and fast, which allowed us all to talk and catch up with one another. The Yard’s atmosphere is very, for lack of a better word, chill. It's a place a group of friends can easily walk into on a whim and enjoy a good meal. It is your quintessential Pittsburgh restaurant and bar that offers great, unique, quality food.