Amidst the cold concrete buildings of Canberra’s CBD is a café injecting new life into the nine-to-five routine of local corporates. Courtyard by Milkcrate is just a short walk away from its previous Marcus Clarke street address, boasting an open, Hamptons-style feel that is just perfect for soaking up the sun in the warmer months.

It’s concept, menu and design have been executed under the guidance of owner Hakan Demir and his knowledgeable team.

“I wanted to create a casual space that was nice and fresh, but still really cosy – a place where people feel comfortable to sit, chat and share some great food,” Hakan explains.

“I did the interior myself, I loved the look of lush greenery and wicker fans alongside the background of white tiles and whitewashed timber.”

The menu is made up of a number of café delights, and Hakan’s Turkish heritage combined with fresh, seasonal produce sourced from the Canberra region influence many of the fan-favourites.

As we sipped on a cup of coffee our conversation came to close with an array of colourful plates of Hakan’s favourite dishes served to the table for us to try. Ranging from light breakfast treats to hearty mains, Courtyard certainly has all the boxes ticked – whatever the mood you’re in!

We started the feast with the humble Farmer Joe’s Muesli, a warm bowl of puffed grains accompanied by dessert yoghurt, berries and a soft malt crumble that simply melts in your mouth. The dish resembles a recipe my grandmother used to make, a creamy rice pudding with a note of cinnamon that relaxes you like a hug from the kind lady herself. Order this dish and you will be left with a smile on your face and a warm, reassuring feeling inside.

Next up we dig into one of Hakan’s hand-picked favourites, The Courtyard. Aptly named, this is the star of the all-day breakfast menu. Fresh house-made bagels are dressed with spinach and cream cheese and topped with two perfectly poached eggs that ooze yolk when pierced with a fork. The dish is finished off with a perfectly balanced drizzle basil hollandaise.

The best word to describe this dish is balance. Often a poached egg dish with any hollandaise component can be easily ruined by too much vinegar. However, The Courtyard balances the citric components of the dish with cream cheese and the sweetness of the spinach.

As a meat-lover myself, there are not many places that I would opt for a vegetarian dish when there are so many mouth-watering meat dishes clambering for my attention. But at Courtyard, my absolute favourite dish would have to be the Moussaka. This recipe stays true to the classic recipe but really turns it into something magnificent with a gorgeous balance of sweet and salty components. The dish is comprised of layers of eggplant covered with a tomato sugo and béchamel sauce accompanied by kipfler potato wedges and kale chips

Gazing at the menu, everything seems in its place, however, I couldn’t help but look twice at one unusual dish, the Stroganoff Burger. As a fan of the classic dish I couldn’t fathom how it could be reconstructed into burger form – but to my surprise, I loved it! Layers of braised beef, bacon, mushroom, paprika sour cream and rocket worked together seamlessly to create a moreish collaboration. Together it tasted somewhat between a juicy beef and gooey cheese burger.

Sitting back, satisfied after an eclectic food journey at Courtyard, I couldn’t help thinking about our next work get-together. With a great open space and an outdoor area as well, Courtyard is the perfect size and space to host a work Christmas party, casual gathering or corporate lunch. For more information about Courtyard’s packages head over to the functions section of our site.

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