Maybe I watched too many episodes of ‘Cheers’ when I was young, but I always wanted to find a pub that I could describe as my ‘local’. You know, somewhere you can sit and have a chat without being hassled by some undersexed alcoholic. Somewhere you feel comfortable slipping in at the last moment, without instantly regretting it because your eardrums are about to burst, you have nowhere to perch, or your character is about to be besmirched!
So, how did I find the pub that I have since adopted as my ‘local’?…I decided to meet a friend at the Court House Hotel one Friday night for a last minute dinner. I had a vague recollection that someone had told me it was one of Melbourne’s first gastro pubs, and the food was good. I wandered into a cosy, busy space, and found myself a seat. The bar was fairly crowded so I was lucky! After my friend arrived, we ordered some food. Ahhh, I still remember both the white anchovies and the zucchini fritters very fondly! Conversation and wine flowed. I liked the fact that it wasn’t too noisy and so we could talk without raising our voices. Needless to say, I have returned quite regularly, sometimes sitting in the bar and sometimes in the adjacent room, which is less atmospheric but more roomy.
The Court House Hotel also has a dining room for fine dining. I love to celebrate anniversaries and other special occasions over dinner there. The downstairs dining room is elegant, the food delicious, and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. The menu is a mixture of classic dishes (such as the black Angus porterhouse steak) and food for the culinary adventurous (often from the specials board). There is an excellent wine list, and there is always a staff member on hand to provide suggestions on pairing wine with food.
Our most recent meal in the dining room at the Court House Hotel was with friends Sylvia and Renaldo. Some of the highlights were oysters with champagne ice, Sylvia’s suckling pig, Renaldo’s balsamic artichokes and my grilled snapper. Hubby wasn’t as excited by his Angus steak. Sylvia ended with a hard Italian cheese, which she enjoyed. But I reckon my quince pie (photo above) was even better! I offered to share it, but happily everyone else was too full or too polite!
The menu for the dining room has recently become available in the bar. Prices are on the Court House Hotel website. Hubby and I tend to spend around $120 for food and wine. We prefer to be seated in the downstairs dining room as we prefer the atmosphere there. You need to book ahead if you are eating in the dining room. With the bar, it can be hard to find a seat, but there is an adjacent room which is quieter. The adjacent room has more seats, and food ordered at the bar is also served there. There is also a set menu lunch deal, beginning at $35 for 2 courses. Hopefully, I will find some time soon to be a ‘lady who lunches’!
UPDATE December 2013: Ownership of this restaurant has changed since this review was written. This review is therefore out of date.