Order! order needs to be restored at the Courthouse

A past favourite of mine, I really wish I had better comments from my recent lunch at the Courthouse. Perhaps a victim of the current financial times or the mycelium-like competitiveness of the restaurant sector, the Courthouse of North Melbourne (by day) lacks the glory of fine cut china that it exuded several years previously. For a lunchtime service, to have 2 tables in the restaurant and 3 others in the bar section is surely hardly sufficient to cover costs. Perhaps this could be attributed to the mid-week, however this used to be a place popular for December functions which are just kicking off. One would reason that it is more likely that the pricey nature of dining here or the lack of a simplified setlunch (if there is one, it certainly wasn’t made known to us) that dis-incentivises patrons from regular returns. For me, I know that I’d be happy to have a beer or two here, but would more seek my dinner elsewhere due to the Courthouse’s less-than-casual prices which certainly stickout in the Errol St locality.

There are still 5-6 interesting beers on tap which would occupy any after-office crowd for several hours. I had the Seven Sheds Razzamatazz ($7.50/310mL) which is a light wheat ale infused with clover honey and raspberries. Made in Tasmania, it is quite cloudy in appearance and makes for easy drinking on summer days. The Moylan’s IPA ($8/310mL) comes from Novato, California and has a full-bodied malty structure to it, something for the early summer days.

Zucchini flowers

Roasted quail

For my starter, I ordered the zucchini flowers ($16) which were presented in a lovely manner. Lightly coated and fried, it went very well with the accompanying quinoa and grains. The roasted quail ($20) had a lovely sheen to it, but was perhaps too hidden by the fried quail egg initially. The steak fillet on the special of the day at $38, and to this, I was rather disappointed with the conservative cooking of the kitchen for my request for a rare piece of meat turned up medium-rare with half of the steak cooked through. Consistent with this, others on my table had their medium-rare steaks served leaning towards the medium spectrum. Nonetheless, it was presented nicely, was of a good size, and the seasoning was sufficient. I have to declare that the house cut frittes lacked the angular precision that I’ve come to expect. Within minutes, the darker-than-i-would’ve-liked chips had started to dry out and when this happens, they turn visually unappetising.

That’s a pretty good medium-rare steak

I attempted to rescue the meal with dessert (as one inevitably does with too great a frequency) of a banana and stout ice cream sandwich ($16). Delicious by title, enjoyable by nature. The stout ice cream was not too sweet and had that creamy texture which I fondly recall of Dublin Guinness. The banana fritte was nice but the thin slice of caramelised banana had a touch of bitter detraction and there was probably enough going on already in this dish that it could’ve been left out.

Doesn’t quite explain why the banana-stout combo though…

Overall, the Courthouse is still the best restaurant in North Melbourne food quality-wise. Its price point is well beyond the typical North Melbourne fare, and this removes a substantial proportion of patronage since cheaper food is across the street. I’m not sure how it will cope if its customer base has shrunk, and it would be a great shame if cost cutting should be invoked to balance the books. Food presentation and quality is undoubtedly there, albeit the small inconsistencies. I had previously booked a work function here a couple of years ago, but in its present state, I am absolutely certain I wouldn’t now.
The Courthouse Hotel on Urbanspoon


About simplepalatesseriously

I am a neuroscience researcher in Melbourne, Australia with a keen interest in wines of the world.
This entry was posted in Australia, Daily happenings, Melbourne restaurants, Victoria and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Order! order needs to be restored at the Courthouse

  1. ghettocaptain says:

    I do believe it is reopening under new management soon, might be worth revisiting?

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