By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS
VRG Research Director
Since January 2011, Yard House restaurants have offered gardein™, an all-vegetable, high-protein food developed by Garden Protein International, as an option in twenty-five menu items available at all of its locations in over a dozen states. Those interested may find a listing of locations at Yard House’s website: http://www.yardhouse.com/locations/
The VRG spoke with Carlito Jocson, executive chef and partner at Yard House, about their menu. Jocson emphasized that “Although Yard House is not a vegan restaurant, our gardein™ option provides everyone a chance to go meatless if they so desire while dining at Yard House and enjoying many of our signature dishes.”
On a page devoted to its gardein™ menu options, the Yard House website clearly states at the top (italics by Yard House):
“gardein™ is a chicken or beef substitute made from soy, wheat, pea proteins, vegetables and ancient grains. Yard House offers a variety of menu selections made with gardein™ that do not contain meat, fish, poultry, shellfish or product derived from these sources, but may contain dairy or eggs. Please note that Yard House is not a vegan environment as we share cooking surfaces, equipment, and storage areas with both animal and non-animal food products. Although we will make every effort to meet your dietary needs we cannot 100% assure there will be no cross contact.”
Jocson told The VRG that a “separate sautee pan is used to heat the pre-made gardein™ served at Yard House…the pan is sanitized between uses but is not exclusively used for gardein™ all the time. Anything charbroiled is prepared on a common surface…A common utensil sanitation bucket is changed every hour in the kitchen.”
At Yard House, a gardein™ option is available for the following appetizers: gardein™ Buffalo Wings (dressing contains dairy); gardein™ Firecracker Wings, and gardein™ Jerk Wings. Jocson pointed out to us that the firecracker sauce is mushroom-based, and does not contain oyster extract, as it often does at other restaurants and once did at Yard House before he reformulated it. The firecracker sauce contains honey. The gardein™ Jerk Wings come with a rum BBQ sauce that is made with a Worcestershire sauce containing anchovies.
Another Yard House appetizer that may appeal to vegetarians and vegans is the lettuce wrap filled with shiitake and portabella mushrooms. The wrap also contains other stir-fried ingredients: smoked tofu, pine nuts and green onions. There are three sauce choices for the wrap: the sweet chile sauce, the spicy peanut vinaigrette, and the firecracker sauce. All three contain honey.
Yard House signature entrées containing gardein™ rather than meat or chicken include: the gardein™ BBQ Chicken Pizza; gardein™ BBQ Chicken Salad; gardein™ Béarnaise Sliders; gardein™ Chicken Rice Bowl with Brown or Jasmine Rice; gardein™ Classic Sliders with Cheddar Cheese; gardein™ Fried Chicken Strips; gardein™ Mac and Cheese; gardein™ Orange Peel Chicken with Brown or Jasmine Rice; gardein™ Penne with Chicken; gardein™ Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza; and gardein™ Thai Chicken Noodle Salad with Spicy Thai Vinaigrette.
Among the entrées listed above, the two that are free of all animal ingredients are the gardein™ Chicken Rice Bowl and the gardein™ Orange Peel Chicken. The sauces or dressings for all of the other entrées contain dairy, egg, and/or honey. Jocson told The VRG that the pizza dough contains honey.
When The VRG inquired about the sources of enzymes used to make the cheeses included in many of their menu items, Yard House contacted all of their cheese suppliers. We learned that all of the mozzarella cheese on their pizzas is made with “microbial rennet.” Some of their other cheeses, notably the Parmesan, Pepper Jack, and Fontina, comes from suppliers who use animal rennet while other suppliers of these cheeses use microbial rennet. Because there are several suppliers, the restaurant cannot guarantee the source of the enzyme in the Parmesan, Pepper Jack, and Fontina cheeses. As of February 2012, one feta cheese supplier at Yard House uses animal rennet while another did not specify. Most Swiss cheese suppliers use microbial rennet but one supplier did not specify its enzyme source.
Yard House also offers gardein™ as an alternative to meat or chicken on many of its burgers and sandwiches. The multi-grain bun appears to be all-vegetable and does not list L-cysteine as an ingredient, but since suppliers may change, Jocson told us that Yard House cannot guarantee this. The otherwise all-vegetable onion poppy seed bun contains L-cysteine. The French Fries appear to be free of all animal ingredients. They are not fried separately from animal-based menu items.
Among the “snacks” on the menu, patrons looking for options free of all animal ingredients should note that the hummus and accompanying pita or flatbread appear free of all animal products. Chilled edamame is also free of animal ingredients. Yard House guacamole contains dairy. The Truffle Fries contain milk. The Sweet Potato Fries are all-vegetable (without the dipping sauce). They are not fried separately from animal-based foods.
Yard House’s French Onion Soup is made with beef and chicken broth. The Organic Tomato Bisque contains milk but does not contain an animal-based stock.
Also of interest to some patrons may be the hongas and rajas (mushrooms, peppers, and onions) taco and the pinto bean casserole served at Yard House. The taco may be ordered without the jack and feta cheeses. Yard House told us that the pinto bean casserole contains no animal ingredients and may be ordered without the cheese blend topping. The tortilla appears free of all animal ingredients but since suppliers vary, Yard House cannot guarantee this.
All of the desserts at Yard House contain eggs and/or dairy.
Readers may find nutrition information about Yard House menu items at http://www.yardhouse.com/docs/yhnutritionalinfo.pdf
The contents of this article, our website, and our other publications, including the Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company employees or company statements. Information does change and mistakes are always possible. Please use your own best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. Further research or confirmation may be warranted.
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