Restaurant Review: The Coop at The Hey Hey Bar & Grill
Hey Hey is nice little neighborhood hangout on Whittier. It’s almost kitch, but not in any deliberate fashion that would inspire eye-rolling nausea.
And now that Hey Hey has teamed up with The Coop, a much beloved local food truck, the establishment is serving a bona fide gourmet menu –distinguished by, among other things, yak meat offerings.
Straight up, the whole yak commitment is philosophically puzzling, at least until you do some digging around. There’s a yak farm called Hey Hey Yak Ranch in Colorado, it’s owned by the same family as the Hey Hey Bar & Grill. Viola: the yak connection.
Beyond that, it’s worth knowing that Yak meat is sort of good for you. Neither Hey Hey nor The Coop seem like the type to hype up the health benefits of yak, but the yak people say the animal’s flesh is 95-97% fat free, it’s also supposed to be a serious source of Omega 3s. Score… time for extra mayo.
Yak meat tastes mostly like beef –well, beef without the beefiness. Yak is a milder mammal, which is good news for most palates. The Yak Burger ($9.50) at Hey Hey has lots more going on than just exotic meat. It’s an entire masterpiece with a yak burger, egg, mayo, bacon and arugula. The wily arugula leaves might seem like an odd choice for a condiment, but their fresh, springy flavor really works in the combo.
At brunch (that’s on Saturdays), there’s also Yak Bone-In Short Rib Hash ($14). As it turns out, the short rib is on the longish side: a single, giant, magnificent bone lies across the center of the plate -and a generous supply of milky-mild yak meat drips off that bone. The savory hash element actually outshines the meat: lots of coarsely cubed potatoes with crunchy fried edges are crowned by a sunny-side up egg with a glowing golden yolk.
It’s not all about the yak, though. The new brunch menu offers Pfannkuchen too. The name looks a little like pancakes, but think of the offering in terms of “crepes”. The Elderberry ($7) version starts with a crepe rolled up with dark-dark elderberry jam (with just a teeny bit of anise flavor courtesy the presence of black sambuca).
That’s just the starting point. The kitchen takes that roll and drenches it in a sweet, stirred custard, then gobs of relentlessly thick whipped cream and sliced, fresh strawberries.
The same sort of excellence is found in the Nutella ($8) version of Pfannkuchen. As the name indicates, it has Nutella inside, and it’s covered with the aforementioned stirred custard sauce, thick whipped cream AND a long wedge of caramelized plantain across the top. The dish achieves the perfect balance of sweet and rich.
Favorites from The Coop’s food truck menu can still be found at Hey Hey. In addition to the Yak Burger, the French Omelette BLT ($7.50) is also a reliable favorite. It’s served on Texas toast (so, multi-cultural: Texan and French) with bacon, more arugula and cheese.
Hey Hey Bar & Grill and The Coop can be found at 361 E. Whittier.
More information can be found online at www.facebook.com/The-Coop/.
Photos by Mollie Lyman of www.fornixphotography.com.