TORONTO — It’s a wonder that in southeast Kansas Courtney’s isn’t a household name. The Wichita Eagle gave her the front page a couple of years ago, calling her restaurant “a big-time Italian restaurant in tiny Toronto.” A PBS affiliate in Topeka broadcast a special on her in 2008. Yelp reviewers from all corners of the country continue to bathe the restaurant — Courtney’s Places, to give it its full name — in exuberant praise. “The food,” everyone seems to say, “the food!”
And if locals haven’t quite cottoned on to Courtney’s, somehow her name has made its way on the wind. Her guest book is lined with diners from Kansas City, Lawrence, Wichita, Denver, Oklahoma City, London, Atlanta, New York, Nashville, Houston, Los Angeles.
And so it is that, by some formula known only to Courtney Neill, Courtney’s Places — a fancy Italian restaurant run by a Scot with no real history in the kitchen — is celebrating its 12th year, and banking on plenty more.