“Getchya drink?” Courtney called out from the open kitchen that was visible from the La-Z-Boy I had chosen to lounge in. “I'll have what you're having!” I returned her smile when I was brought a mystery cocktail in a plastic cup. Upon sniffing the greenish mixture, I was able to guess it was some sort of vodka concoction, and a tentative sip confirmed my suspicions. “Is that Gatorade?” She nodded without looking up from the stove, “Yes ma'am. But there's root beer if you'd prefer.”
Needless to say, the food specials at Courtney's can be a little odd. With their specific and limited ingredients, it's a “House Choice” type of eating arrangement where the owner/chef brings you food without you having to look at a menu. Because of this unique way of feeding their customers, each dining experience is an adventure.
That night, I started off with a single serving bag of Doritos and a plate of smoked oysters on saltine crackers topped with yellow mustard and hot sauce. While the Doritos lacked a bit of flair, the unusual flavors of the oyster plate were a pleasantly surprising combination. The mustard calmed the smokiness of the shellfish while the hot sauce brought a zing to the slimy cracker topper.
The initial service was very pleasant and timely, but shortly after the appetizers came out it was easy to see the chef was getting distracted. The kitchen became a little hazy and the smell of burning bacon started to fill the establishment—not that I minded, bacon is good no matter what. Because of her periodic breaks to turn on music, or take shots with the other (friendly but slightly intoxicated) patrons, the main entrée took almost 20 minutes to come out. But I suppose good things come to those who wait because my “Everything Melt,” as she called it, was exactly what I needed. Served on bread, the sandwich was a gluttonous spin on a classic tuna melt. The “crisp” bacon was a well thought out addition juxtaposed against the gooey tuna and cheese mixture, and the crunchy jalapenos and creamy avocado formed an excellent union to bring a fresh element to this otherwise guilty pleasure.
Despite the feeling of comfort and the delicious, sophisticated take on homey food, there were a few things that I found to be problematic. The location, for one, is generally kept hush-hush and getting in can be a difficult affair if you don't know someone who knows someone. While this brings a “secret club” appeal, it makes it hard for new customers to experience Courtney's unique culinary delights. Similarly, the hours of operation are erratic and unclear, with the restaurant opening whenever she feels like it. Regardless, it's clear that Courtney's Kitchen is a labor of love which I found to be quite refreshing.