It's been almost three weeks since we visited this North Melbourne local, so the details are starting to fade. Thankfully, Lachie is going to be visiting shortly, so I imagine he can fill in the gaps here and there. Until then, here are a few thoughts that immediately come to mind...
The building itself looks like your average 1960's pub, a little rough around the edges, sporting Carlton Draught signs over the doors. Enter the dining room though and you're transported back to a hotel dining room near the turn of the (previous) century - dark timber, high ceilings, white tablecloths all make a stark contrast against the outer surrounds. We were early for a Friday night, as we were going on to a friend's engagement party, so there was only one other couple in the room when we were shown to our table. It's not a big dining room, seating around 30, but when it's empty you do feel a little like the world can hear your conversations. Once it filled up (and I'd had a few glasses of wine) it was less noticeable, but I do recall wishing that they'd had the background music just a smidge louder.
The food was a wonderful surprise, French influenced modern Australian with an emphasis on good quality fresh ingredients and a simplicity that suits quality gastro-pub food. After our customary freshly shucked oysters we particularly enjoyed the tamarind cured Kingfish, which packed a quite a flavour whallop. Somehow it managed this without destroying the kingfish, and integrated very nicely.
The main course highlight was a confit pork belly, it's crisp crackling and falling apart meat inspiring me to bother making my own confit on the podcast a few weeks later. Needless to say, the Court House did a better job!
Since we were moving on to another function, we didn't partake of dessert, but we're looking forward to returning soon to do the restaurant "properly". Having walked past the Court House on numerous occasions in the past, I'm kicking myself for not having been sooner. A very deserving one chef's hat winner.
- Tamarind Cured Kingfish, pickled shallots, orange, crisp garlic ($16)
- Grain Fed Wagyu Bresaola, persimmon, extra virgin olive oil, shallots, blood plum dressing ($18)
- Confit Otway Pork Belly baked apple, praline, shallot jus ($33)
By the glass