The Culinary Dropout at The Yard
5632 N. 7th St.
I’m not sure where or when the Pretzel Bite & Fondue craze started but I do remember my first taste; the original Culinary Dropout in Scottsdale years ago. I was happy to hear local restaurateur Sam Fox was updating the Culinary Dropout concept to include brunch, a yet to be named seafood extension, Cartel Coffee Lab (not yet open) and…a Yard. The Culinary Dropout at The Yard on 7th street in Central Phoenix is actually the third Culinary Dropout location (the original Scottsdale location and one in Vegas); this one is surely the largest.
I was lucky enough to get an invite to the pre-opening to benefit Local First Arizona which allowed for plenty of sampling for our party of four. Starting with the Pretzel Fondue was a no brainer; we also put together a charcuterie/cheese board for openers. I’m a huge fan of meat and cheese boards and Culinary offers 16 choices of meat and cheeses alone to customize your board. If you’re not quite hungry enough to down a couple of entrées, I’d highly recommend sharing a board with a couple glasses of wine. They do have a decent sized Antipasti and Shared app list too.
We did make it to the entrée round however. I opted for the 36-Hour Pork Ribs. The jalapeno/molasses bbq sauce sounded curious and I’m not one to back away from creative bbq. The darkly sweet and tangy sauce did not disappoint. I wouldn’t call the ribs fall-off-the-bone tender but not tough or dry by any means. Thumbs up.
My wife ordered the Beer Battered Fish & Chips. I like Fish & Chips (George & Dragon’s being my local fave) and I wouldn’t think of this place as a Fish & Chips destination but my wife and I both agreed Culinary did a really good job here. The batter was crisp, light and tasty and stayed with the fresh and flakey filets. Too many times overly thick and gooey batter just ends up in a heap on your plate.
My daughter chose the server recommended the Fried Chicken with buttermilk biscuit. Our server lauded this as a signature dish; the menu even parenthetically states “be patient – it’s worth it!” It was my least favorite entrée. We didn’t have to be all that patient, it came out in a reasonable amount of time. It wasn’t bad, I just liked the others much better. You can get pretty okay fried chicken at plenty of places, including this one.
The last entrée ordered was Butternut Squash Cannelloni with smoked onions, brussel sprouts and mushrooms. To be honest, not many times will I order an entrée without a big protein attached to it somewhere. The cannelloni and sauce were packed full of flavor and held up just fine without help. I’d order it again.
The Yard is a massive covered yet open play area with ping pong tables, loungy sofas, corn hole games, etc. Outdoor heaters make it comfortable and I’m sure misters or swamp coolers will do the same in the summer. I didn’t spend any time playing in this space adjacent to one of the two dining areas but next time maybe I’ll do my best Forest Gump at the ping pong tables between Pretzel Fondue bites.