Where to go in Accra for a quick and no-fuss birthday treat? It was my partner’s birthday and being that he was travelling the next day, neither of us had time for a long, relaxing sit down meal. It was my treat and so I opted for the Spintex Road Yard Bird as it was conveniently located for both of us, and we’d been waiting for the right time to enjoy the place.
The decor is as you’d expect of an American-style diner – comfy padded seats, loud colour pops and stripes, yet with (in a nod to the “Yard Bird” name) the extra detail of contemporary diner booths with corrugated iron chicken shed roofs gave the feeling of actually being in a chicken coop.
This design has a very European sensibility and so I’d like to see Auntie Adjoa and Uncle Kwaku being seated in one of the booths, guaranteed laughs for an entire week! Despite the booths (which seat four) being a little on the small side, the interior is stylish, spacious and comfortable – I felt that I had a good rest from the hustle outside.
Alongside the decor, it is evident that much time and effort was put into creating Yard Bird’s menu to recognise local produce and tastes. This must be applauded; for example there are plaintain nachos and juices containing moringa. Daily Chef’s Specials help to broaden the choice of food and showcase the Chef’s repertoire.
Cocktails start at 20GHS and milkshakes are imaginatively split into two varieties – standard milkshakes (non-alcoholic) and “Moonshine” ones which hit you with alcoholic potency. We didn’t try these on this occasion as we both had meetings after lunch, but I’d very much like to try them when possible. For parents, you’ll be pleased to know that children are well catered for with a pared down “Baby Bird” menu and colouring-in pictures during their meal.
Unfortunately for us the food at Yard Bird was sadly a complete let down. I would go far as to say that it was awful. The saving grace of our order were the fresh juices that accompanied our meal. We shared a starter of chicken wings, which were simply OK. However, the main course was a minor disaster.
My expectation of my chosen Jalapeño Popper Chicken was individual jalapenos stuffed with chicken, coated in bread crumbs and fried gently. However, what I was presented with was a huge chicken fillet in the shape of a jalapeno(?) stuffed with a little melted cheese/jalapeno mix, coated in breadcrumbs and fried until the Armageddon.
To say that my meal was well cooked is an understatement; my main was thoroughly overcooked…thoroughly!!! The colour of the over crisp (actually burnt) breadcrumbs served only as a warning to the dry and flavourless chicken encased inside. The cheese/jalapeno mix was also non-descript – no seasoning and it seemed that most of it had dried up due to the overzealous cooking.
To make the chicken softer and more pliable, I would suggest that Yard Bird convince the Chef to beat the fillet very thinly and soak overnight in milk for the expected outcome. My partner’s burger billed as Chicken, Lime and Ginger was equally dry and overcooked only seemed to be doused in lime. Needless to say, he didn’t enjoy it.
|Partner||Pineapple, Ginger & Lime Juice||Chicken Wings – 22GHS||Chicken, Lime & Ginger Burger with fries – 25GHS|
|Me||Pineapple, Moringa & Dandelion||Jalapeno Popper Chicken with fries – 30GHS|
With the growing middle class in Ghana, many of whom have travelled abroad or have indeed moved to Ghana primarily for work there is a need for hospitality establishments to step up their offerings. For a while now it has been mooted in some sections that even the premium Whiskey Mist brand has plans to open a concept bar in Accra. It can be difficult to attain certain standards given the power crisis, but when it comes to food and ‘enjoyment’ Ghanaians like to receive value for money.
Yard Bird’s most impressive quality was excellent customer service: all staff from the Management down to the cleaner knew about my reservation. A consideration that I think will stand them in good stead as popularity grows. Good communication within a customer service team should be standard in Ghana, but unfortunately it isn’t and so to experience such excellent customer service was quite surprising. Staff are friendly, clean, well informed and obviously very well trained. There was a very relaxed atmosphere in the diner when we were there.
During our time there I noted that the other customers seemed to be regular diners – businessmen taking time for lunch, expats who wanted a fairly peaceful place to meet or work during the day – we went just after lunchtime and middle class Ghanaians wanting a new and hip place to relax. This demographic will keep Yard Bird thriving, but the standard of the food should not be overlooked.
I’d like to applaud the management of Yard Bird for their high level of attention to detail. The salt and pepper shakers contained rice to prevent the contents caking together in the humid atmosphere, the exceptionally clean toilets each had lower level toilet roll dispensers placed obviously for children and the menus were presented (as per theme) on wooden clipboards.
Their adherence to their brand and their external marketing is second to none. There is a table football game, a photo booth and a Secret DJ app to increase fun and customer engagement, all of these elements were well thought out and executed.
We really wanted to like Yard Bird, but as a foodie I left fairly disappointed. When asked for his view, my partner wearily stated, “Nothing would make me come back. Nothing new here and the food is dire!” I felt obliged to apologise to him for such an awful birthday lunch, the episode didn’t seem like much of a treat at all.
To sum up my Yard Bird experience, over all I’d give it a four and a half (4 ½) out of ten (10) with two (2) of these points coming from the decor and two (2) from the customer service. In my opinion, it seems that it is the latter two factors that are supposed to justify the pricing; Yard Bird seems more experiential than food orientated. As an eating establishment, there is much room for improvement, but I’m hopeful that things will improve.
Yard Bird location:
Spintex – Spintex Road, near Coca Cola Roundabout. Tel: + 233 540 888 000
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