Courtyard Oyster Bar & Grill was Greg’s pick for this week’s meeting of the Birmingham Lunch Club. Located in the 5 Points neighborhood of Birmingham, this bar is so old school that it doesn’t even have a website for me to link to. But here’s the Yelp page if you want more info.
Blake: Was Greg pandering by selecting the bar I sit at most every Sunday devouring delicious .35 wings and six dollar pitchers of beer? Probably. But in a turn of events I failed to recall prior, I had major oral surgery just an hour before this week’s stop. So, largely, this review will be a lifetime achievement award, much like our visit to The Gardens Cafe by Kathy G. when I forgot we were going to lunch and ate a big breakfast. I couldn’t eat wings, and even now, I’m not sure I can. God, how I miss those wings. (NOTE: there is also a trick to ordering wings that I’m not sure anyone in our party took advantage of – mixing the flavors. My favorite option is to combine hot, honey mustard and garlic. I have also opted in lemon pepper instead of honey mustard and garlic. My mouth is literally watering typing this.)
On this day, I ordered the crawfish bisque, a seasonal item, and a side of tater tots. I’ve always heard the gumbos and soups were great, and it didn’t disappoint. I’m not one to choose a soup, but I liked it a lot. The tots were a lot of value in a side and served with ranch (by request) made an odd pairing but adequate complement to a delicious meal. With a water and tip, I got out at $12.
The wings at Courtyard are my favorite in Birmingham. I discovered them in the Fall of 2011, shortly after my move to Southside, and they quickly topped On Tap on my big board. This discovery was made when I also realized the bar carried NFL Sunday Ticket and I could watch my Cowboys (who never get any national exposure) while eating delicious wings. All of this may seem moot, but it’s an important note because I know that a major flaw from our worldly staff of reviewers is going to be service. This isn’t a restaurant that happens to serve delicious beer, it’s a bar that happens to serve delicious food. Most patrons are drinking, playing pool, watching games on the 20 or so televisions that fill the room, or listening to the band. So speed isn’t necessarily important because there are plenty of distractions. It’s going to take 20 – 30 minutes to get your food. That said, the service is extremely courteous even though servers are often juggling tending their bar and ringing phones. Whatever is in your glass, it will never be empty. It’s the type of place where “everybody knows your name.” Everything I have eaten there has been terrific, from the soups to wings and oysters, to the fries to the loaded tots to the corn nuggets.
I think Courtyard serves as what it has become for me: a terrific WEEKEND lunch option. I don’t really recommend doing it when you have to return to the office. If time isn’t a factor, there’s almost no place in Birmingham I’d rather chill out, watch a game, enjoy some wings and wash it all down with a beer. OVERALL RATING: 4 out of 5 BROS
Brad: I was a late arrival to the BLC this week. Duty called and I found myself in 5 Points nearly 25 minutes behind the fellow bros. I was excited to try Courtyard as Blake is apparently just as much a fixture there as the pool tables; the beer; the walls. He is to Courtyard what Joe Patern… nevermind.
My tardiness was not as much an issue as the ineptitude of the staff. As I was late, I made a quick decision and ordered the .35 wings. You CAN’T go wrong with that price point! However, my ticket was lost, and I waited while the other bros finished up.
Courtyard is a bar. The food, though, is better than most “pub grub.” The wings weren’t amazing, but they were good – and their price point makes them great. The service was mediocre, though I am sure that’s not always the case. Blake’s too damned smart to sit there and take garbage service. (Let the record show I complimented his judgment.) Is it worth the drive? No. Is it worth it if you’re in the area, want a cold one and some decent, well-priced food? Absolutely. Overall 2.5 out of 5 BROS
Greg: I continued the long BLC tradition of pandering to other members be selecting Courtyard. Blake sets up home base here each week, so I knew he wouldn’t mind. I also tried some of the wings during trivia one night and they were very tasty. Throw in a cheap wing special price for lunch and that was enough for me to make a pick.
I enjoyed this place because we were able to park on the roof. I felt like we were in an episode of 24 up there. Once we got inside, we were seated quickly and ordered our food. Our drinks were kept topped off, but it took between 15 to 20 minutes for our food to arrive. The wings were very meaty and I got half hot and half spicy teriyaki. Both had great, bold flavor and were very satisfying. I got some fries too. These fries were hot and tasty, but for the 3.50 price, I hoped for more than a value sized McDonalds fry. Minor complaint. The food tasted great and the service was pretty good. For a cheap wing special, you won’t find a better value in Birmingham. Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 bros
Joey: I am glad that Birmingham passed the smoking ban before Greg picked Courtyard. I couldn’t imagine traveling to this formerly smoked clogged bar for lunch. It is literally hard for me to imagine going somewhere for lunch that was as smoked clogged as Courtyard used to be. But that’s no longer the case and the interior provided a pleasant surrounding for a daytime trip.
I made the mistake of not taking advantage of the 35 cent wing special and instead ordered the nachos. These nachos were probably the worst meal I’ve had on this BLC adventure. The chips were soggy and obviously microwaved. I would definitely avoid the nachos if you ever make it to Courtyard. Besides the nachos being terrible, everything else was fine about Courtyard. There was easy parking for a 5 Points location, the service was fast, and the prices were reasonable. But when the most memorable thing was a badass rooftop parking lot, I’m probably never going to go back there for lunch. OVERALL RATING: 1.5 out of 5 BROS
COMPOSITE BRO SCORE : 3 out of 5 BROS