A year ago in this issue, we praised Jeff McInnis for helming Gigi, arguably 2011's hottest Miami restaurant. So when McInnis left that midtown establishment to open Yardbird in South Beach with the 50 Eggs Restaurant group, expectations ran high. Judging from crowds overflowing onto the street since opening night, it would seem those hopes have been realized. The cool farmhouse décor is a refreshing change of pace from designs that too often strain to be SoBe hip. American blues music and friendly service synchronize with the hospitable Southern fare. The menu, produced by McInnis and chef de cuisine Phillip Bryant, brims with big homestyle flavors. We're speaking of dishes such as Brunswick stew with alligator sausage and smoked rabbit, shrimp 'n' grits, and Llewellyn's Fine Fried Chicken with waffles and watermelon. Craft bourbons, beers, and wines are distinctly all-American, as is the overall dining experience. And we're not the only ones mightily impressed: Yardbird and McInnis were nominated for James Beard Awards this year in the Best New Restaurant and Best Chef, South categories.