Y Mess With a Good Thing?
A new approach in Oak Hill
Y Bar and Grill7720 Hwy. 71 W., 394-0220
Sunday, 10am-10pm; Monday-Thursday, 11am-10pm (closed Mondays until Oct. 10); Friday-Saturday, 11am-11pm
The Y Bar and Grill has always been something of an anomaly. Its urbane architecture and tony menu belie its suburban setting along the margins of Highway 71. Architect-designed with a stunning butterfly roof, airy interior, and gorgeous outdoor patio, it reflects the aspirations of its original owner, Jean-Pierre Piaget, to create a formal and elegant eatery meant to serve the growing Oak Hill-area population. With a recent change of ownership, however, the restaurant's new management is taking a different approach: The Y Bar and Grill has made some significant alterations. Owner John Laney sees the restaurant as a community destination, offering creative yet affordable cuisine. The Y now has an outdoor bar hosting not one, but five flat screen TVs where singles can drink, dine, mingle, catch the UT game, and yes, even smoke. Regular jazz on the delightful covered patio also helps to entertain dinner and brunch guests.
Gone is the short, spare menu of classics developed by Piaget. The new menu is more ambitious, clanging with stylish bells and whistles. It is accompanied by an impressive wine list, with a great selection of cocktails and wines by the glass. Foodstuffs such as micro greens, flavored butters, and chutneys feature prominently among the offerings on the menu.
However, when it comes to delivery, the Y Bar and Grill still has some cramming to do. For instance, a Crab Stuffed Avocado Salad ($9.50) garnished with micro greens and diced tomatoes actually turned out to be a warmed avocado stuffed with a rather old and overbready crab cake perched atop a mixed green salad. The promised micro greens were in fact plain ol' alfalfa sprouts. As a salad without the crab and avocado, the whole ensemble would actually have been quite lovely the sesame dressing was delicious but the menu had pledged so much more. The Y does better when it sticks to familiar fare, such as Fried Coconut Shrimp ($11.50). These little crustaceans strike just the right balance of sweet and spicy, silky and crispy.
Dinner entrées produce much the same impression as the appetizers. The extensive menu raises a big wow on paper, but the actual entrées suffer from misrepresentation or just poor execution. Thus, Sea Bass en Papiote ($19.50), described as fresh Atlantic sea bass in parchment with sun-dried tomato linguine and crab butter, becomes a-little-less-than-fresh parchment-wrapped Chilean sea bass with basil pesto linguine topped with a few strands of crab. The Peg Leg Quail ($15), described as bacon-wrapped and stuffed with sausage and goat cheese, arrived pretty much as promised and was very tasty. However, the accompanying risotto was mushy and the ratatouille a soupy conglomeration of overcooked zucchini and carrots. I vowed next time to stick with one of the Y's excellent chops or steaks served over predictable but well-flavored mashed potatoes.
Even the service seems a little tarnished at the Y. Our young and overly deferential waiter genuflected as if programmed yet was slow to bring our drinks and forgot to mention nightly specials. The waiter brought us the check before dessert had arrived, even though we had not yet requested it. Despite these flaws, the Y Bar and Grill is still a pleasant place to sit on the patio for a casual meal. Live music on weekend nights and brunches is an added draw to a restaurant with the right basic formula.
Wes Marshall, Fri., May 17, 2013
Virginia B. Wood, Fri., May 17, 2013
Fri., May 17, 2013
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Virginia B. Wood, Fri., May 17, 2013
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