The official start of summer is just 10 days away and that means mornings, afternoons and evenings whiling away the time on great patios across town.
Among them, The Yard at The Iron Horse Hotel, 500 W. Florida St., has always been a stellar choice. It’s in a location where the weather always seems just a little bit nicer.
On sweltering days, the breeze seems to blow just right. And when it’s a bit cooler, there are fire pits to warm things up.
That’s become even more true thanks to the installation of a brand new corrugated plastic roof atop the rustic industrial pergola that was installed last year. The roof, which was installed with the assistance of Warren Heir of Jr.’s Cycle Products, lets all the sunlight in, but protects the majority of the patio from the rain.
The Yard has also become even more of an oasis, thanks to lush greenery and hanging planters from Kellner’s Greenhouse in Riverwest.
Beneath the new rain-proofed patio, guests have myriad choices when it comes to seating. There’s plenty of soft lounge-style seating for enjoying drinks and happy hours with friends and both high- and low-top tables for brunch, lunch and dinner.
Even larger groups can gather thanks to brand new communal tables.
Eat & drink
Of course, thanks to the work of Chefs Dan Van Rite and Daniel Jacobs of the JVR Group, there’s also a new patio menu to enjoy, which has been redesigned with a host of new spring dishes, many of which take advantage of The Yard’s wood-fired hearth.
Seasonal cocktails include selections like the Rose Lindsey, a refreshing cocktail featuring Campari, strawberry syrup, lime, grapefruit, Ketel One Grapefruit & Rose topped off with soda ($14) or the Tiki-inspired Caught Lookin’ featuring ginger syrup, Gifford Peche, Demerrara, lemon Appleton Signature Blend Rum, Martell Cognac and Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters ($14).
Meanwhile, savory snacks include nibbles like potato chips with French onion dip ($6); popcorn with brown butter, parmesan and chilies ($4), cheddar spread with frybread and pickled vegetables ($10) or olives marinated with fennel, herbs, olive oil and lemon ($10).
Among larger, shareable appetizers is roasted cauliflower, which is as delicious as it is beautiful. It features whipped feta cheese, pickled chilies and a variety of herbs ($10).
There’s also venison tartar ($12) or beet tartare served with seeded crackers and tahini sumac vinaigrette ($12, can be made vegan).
Sandwiches include options like fried chicken with pickles, lettuce, mustard and chili honey ($14), Polish sausage with pickled mustard seeds and beer onions ($14); fried sole ($16); or a double cheeseburger with umami mayo, pickles and a "double dose of freedom" ($15).
On the lighter side of things, there's a beautiful avocado tartine (think avocado toast) featuring generous portions of avocado, pickled carrot, radish and watercress on thickly sliced grainy bread ($14).
Prefer a meatier version? There’s smoked trout tartine with pickled red onions and watercress ($14).
The new Yard also lends itself far better to romantic date nights and leisurely dinners. So you might find yourself looking toward entrees. If you do, you’ll find options like Bavette steak with fries and herbed butter ($28); roasted chicken served with spaetzle, mustard vinaigrette and salad ($22); Arctic char served with fried fingerling potatoes, green beans, piquillo peppers and nicoise vinaigrette ($23); or these delectable scallops featuring fresh pea puree, browned butter and pickled spring rhubarb ($26).
It’s also a great spot for after dinner drinks and dessert thanks to a selection of sweet items made by Batches Bakery including the delicious vanilla-infused Confetti Cake, Apple Cheddar Honey Pie and Chocolate Derby Pie ($6 each).
More reasons to spend time in The Yard
Happy hour, which takes place Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. is always a nice choice. After all, you'll find $3 draft brews, $5 local mixers and select wines priced $5-7 per glass. Visit on Tuesday and there's half-off bottles of select wines from 4 to close.
Brunch is now served in the Yard on both Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guests can enjoy a choice of five specialty Bloody Marys, standard or pomegranate mimosas or even bottomless mimosas for just $20 per person. Pair drinks with dishes like biscuits and gravy, fried chicken and waffles, avocado or smoked trout toast (pictured above), shakshuka, stuffed French toast, Benedicts and more.
Ride over on Thursday nights from 5 to 10 p.m. for Bike Night, which features $5 hearth-fired sausages from The Vanguard, $3 PBRs, $7 Casamigos Classic margaritas and $4 tequila shots along with specialty cigars to enjoy. There will also be $3 taps of Third Space Brewing’s Happy Place with $1 from each beer donated to the BUILDE program, a non-profit educational program dedicated to pairing teams of high school students with bike-building mentors.
The Yard is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner service takes place Monday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. and Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.