WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
When it’s time for Turkish food to preoccupy everyone’s lips, this pleasant cafe on Magazine Street will be a very busy place. It’s familiar, but not entirely. Turkish food gave birth to all the other Middle Eastern dishes. And Persian cooking is even older. The Courtyard Grill cooks a wide range of it all, from street food to more complex dishes.
The most interesting of everyday Turkish dishes is doner. It’s made by piling slices of marinated, roasted meats on a vertical spit, then slicing down the pile to get thin, crusty pieces. Here are several varieties of that idea, at least one of which should be on the table. A meal of all appetizers is another fascinating eating strategy. All of this is presented beautifully, using organic meats and other first-class ingredients.
The Courtyard Grille opened in 2010. The owners and chef are both from Turkey. The chef is professionally trained and has been in the business a long time.
If the weather is tolerable, most diners sit on the large porch that runs along side of the converted cottage. The dining rooms inside are colorful and pleasant, too. The service staff is largely family, and keep up a conversation about the wonders of Turkish food and culture with the many customers who know all about it. Last time I was there, I encountered the former consul of Turkey to New Orleans. Turkish movies play on the TV screens.
»Dolma (grape leaves stuffed with rice, pine nuts, onions)
»Hummus (chickpea-sesame-garlic dip)
Baba ghanoush (eggplant-garlic dip)
»Courtyard baba ghanoush (layered sliced eggplant, onions, tomatoes, mint (Kalamata olives)
Agili (spicy blend of tomatoes, bell peppers, mint, garlic)
»Kisir (tabbouleh: cracked wheat, parsley, onion, olives, lemon) Chachik (tsatsiki: yogurt, cucumber, mint, garlic)
Feta nuts (slabs of feta cheese, walnuts, basil, olives)
Turkish spinach pie
»Turkish meat pie (ground beef, onions, parsley)
Falafel (mashed chickpeas and vegetables made into a pattie and fried) and
Grilled vegetables, yogurt sauce
Iskandar kabob (beef and lamb gyros, tomato
butter sauce, yogurt)
Adana kabob (ground chicken, red pepper, parsley)
»Koobideh (organic ground beef kabob)
»Shish kabob (lamb chunks)
Mixed kabobs (koobideh, chicken and lamb kabobs)
Combo platter (assortment of above dishes for four)
Yogurt kabob (charbroiled lamb, over homemade bread)
Yogurt chicken kabob
»Hunkar beyendi (lamb kabob, roasted eggplant, tomato sauce
»Lamb shank (organic, cooked slowly, tomato sauce)
»Pirzola (lamb chop)
»Beyti (ground chicken breast or adana kabob, rolled
in thin dough)
»Tavuk sarma (chicken breast stuffed with rice, pine nuts, creamy sauce
»Doner durum (sliced beef and lamb sliced off the vertical rotisserie
Pattichan doner (as above, with roasted eggplant)
Nola doner (marinated beef and lamb, basmati rice)
Chicken avocado wrap
Adana wrap (chicken or lamb)
»Koobideh wrap (ground beef)
Greek gyros sandwich
»Doner sandwich (flatbread filled with lamb and beef)
Chicken kabob sandwich
»Kazandibi (Turkish flan)
»Kayisi (sweet apricots, syrup, cream, walnuts)
»Armut (pear filled with walnuts, wine sauce)
FOR BEST RESULTS
The portions here are tremendous, and even when I’ve arrived ravenous I’ve never been able to get through more than about two-thirds of the entrees. It’s part of the Turkish food culture to have several big platters passing around among all the diners at a table.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The menu has very little seafood.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment +1
- Consistency +1
- Value +2
- Attitude +2
- Wine & Bar +1
- Hipness +1
- Local Color +1
- Courtyard or deck dining
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open until 11 p.m. FR SA
- Open all afternoon
- Unusually large servings
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking (the lot on the corner of Jena and Magazine is the restaurant’s).
- No reservations
ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
You know that an ethnic cuisine has managed to gain purchase in a city when restaurants open that serve a regional version of the cuisine. The Courtyard Grill has moved beyond generic Middle Eastern cooking to offer specifically Turkish and Persian cooking. While the eats have many similarities to the familiar menus of places like Byblos and Lebanon’s Cafe, everything here is different enough to add a new wing to your personal house of flavors. The Turkish dishes in particular bring a new excitement.