Re-purposed and open for business, the Courthouse in Cheshire takes a historic Knutsford locale and transforms it into a refined hotel, complete with a courtly dining experience; The Barristers restaurant, set in the minor offences wing of the old courthouse.
Perhaps most noted for being host to the trial of Alan Turing, the Courthouse doesn’t shy away from it’s heritage, rather embracing it’s place as a chapter in Cheshire’s many versed book.
Entering the venue, the docks have been left as they were, keeping the tiered structure of a courtroom. This shape lends itself perfectly to a dining operation, with the lower set middle making an ideal home for a centre bar, surrounded by tables set on two levels, spaced apart aptly for privacy.
The decor is mixed in influence. Some classic features; paintings and floral displays, are placed prominently, but set alongside pop art interpretations of celebrity mugshots, a playful tongue-in-cheek nod to the Courthouse’s heritage.
Cocktails in Court
At the focal point of the dining space, the bar is well stocked and managed by an extremely knowledgeable mixologist named Mark. Mark can accommodate pretty much any drinks preference and make informed recommendations.
The Vanilla Rum caught our eye as a sweeter offering. Mark informed us the main ingredient was rum without mixer, just a few added flavourings. The Vanilla Rum became the favourite of the evening, providing a delicious taste without the usual burn of drinking pure spirit, we can highly recommend this for cocktail fans with a sweet tooth.
Alongside the rum, a Watermelon Sling was served, fruity and colourful when contrasted against the more traditionally served Vanilla Rum. The Watermelon Sling was pretty to look at and enjoyable to drink, serving as a nice little cocktail for those pining for holiday-inspired drinks.
The dish which caught our eye to start was the Bloomer Shrooms, basically fancy mushrooms on toast for the less versed foodie.
Bloomer Shrooms consisted of creamed chestnut mushrooms, accompanied with roasted garlic and chives and set on a toasted bloomer. Portions were generous for a starter and we found the dish to be especially creamy.
A well presented dish served on a black slate to contrast the creamed chestnut, with each element in a good ratio to one another; enough bread to soak up the sauce and enough mushroom per bite of bread. It all comes together to create something familiar but somehow new at the same time.
It wouldn’t be Sunday Lunch without going for a classic roast and Courthouse’s Sirloin Beef offering did not disappoint. Served pink and juicy, texture and flavour went down a treat. The Roast Sirloin was served alongside a giant Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, Chantenay carrots and wilted greens. Toppings including gravy and celeriac puree, the puree we could take or leave but the gravy was a must have for this dish.
Another British classic tried was the Fish and Chips. Bettered from the typical recipe, the Courthouse Chefs whipped up mushy pea puree as a side sauce, with the fish itself coated in crispy batter. The fish was tender, a nice juxtaposition for the cod to batter consistency. Chip shop style curry accompanied, with chips coming as standard issue with a rich blush ketchup.
Verdict on Desserts
It would be rude not to sample some of the dessert dishes available, so we opted for a after-meal drink as well as traditional pudding. For the dessert dish, the Baked Chocolate Tart provided just enough servings to satisfy after a large meal without over doing it. Orange marmalade and caramel gel were offered in modest amounts to add a little extra flavour to the three chocolate blocks served. Light and delicate with a morishly good flavour, the tart was small in portion and rich in flavour, giving us just what we wanted after two generous courses to come before.
For a dessert-style drink, the array of milkshakes offered cover both quirky and traditional, offering a mix of classic strawberry, vanilla and chocolate alongside modern fusions such as cookie. The Cookie Milkshake was served with a piece of shortbread on the side and topped with whipped cream for extra texture. A base of vanilla milkshake could be tasted initially, which then made way for the following hints of cookie which grew stronger as the drink was diminished. Another aesthetically pleasing dish, the milkshake again will satisfy a sweet tooth and keep the kids quiet for a while.