The Court House is one of the best known gastropubs in Melbourne. With an Age Good Food Guide rated restaurant and counter type meals at the front bar, it now also does an English style Sunday roast lunch.
Our lunch was served in a small upstairs room, well lit with natural light, white painted walls and bare wooden floorboards. Other than the moderately weird view through some partially open curtains into an old bathroom, first impressions were good. Nice space, sparsely decorated with tasteful decor, professional staff who seemed keen to be of assistance, tables not too close together.
The roasts are effectively typical home style roasts but prepared to restaurant standards. My roast pork came with roasted potatoes and fennel, and a ring of char grilled apple. The pork was moist and slightly salty tasting, the crackling firm but not hard. What I enjoyed most though was the roast fennel, not a vegetable you see all that often but slightly sweet and with a strong but delicate flavour.
The roast beef came with roast vegetables and fresh horseradish. Of the two serves of beef one of us felt theirs was spot on,the other that it still had a tinge of pink but was marginally overdone. But what we were most interested in (other than the beef) was the Yorkshire Pudding. This was good if not as puffy as it could have been, being slightly soggy from the gravy.
The roast lamb on the other hand was wonderfully tender and flavoursome,the mint sauce made using pureed mint leaves and unlike the normal mint vinaigrette you often get. The roast potato and parsnip were very good and while served without gravy this was more than compensated for by the juices from the meat.
The fish and chips of the day was Blue Grenadier. The beer battered fish was well cooked and served with a subtle tartar sauce and a slice of lemon. The chips were large and regularly shaped, stacked in what looked a little like blocks of lego. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy in the middle, what good chips should be. Served with mushy peas, the only real criticism was that the size of the serve could have been more generous given the price.
Unfortunately after the mains things headed down hill a little. By this stage the room was full and given the bare floors and lack of furnishings it became noisier than you'd expect in a restaurant. Secondly, while the quality of the mains was high, two of the three desserts were a bit of a let down.
Easily the best of the desserts was the bitter chocolate torte, with its intense chocolate flavour served with cream and crushed nuts.
On the other hand, the sticky date pudding with Baileys icecream looked the part but turned out less moist and sticky than it should have been. Not dry but starting to head that way.
The crumble of the day was apple and rhubarb. While it might have been to some diner's taste I found it too sweet and lacking in texture, with the fruit pureed rather than in pieces and the crumble layer (my favourite part) too thin.
Given the desserts were at restaurant prices I would have hoped for something better.
A mixed bag really. The mains were good to very good but the desserts weren't up to the same standard. Service was good but as the room became more crowded it became harder to hold a conversation across the table, certainly harder than you'd expect in a restaurant type environment. I'm also not sure about the whole concept of a restaurant roast.Certainly it's a major jump in standard from the normal dried out pub carvery, but I think from a restaurant I'm looking more for something I couldn't do myself, rather than a slightly better version of something I could produce at home. Overall I'd be happy to return to The Court House but I'd try the Front Bar next time. But that may just be more me.
Food - 7.5
Service - 8
Ambience - 6.5
Price - 6.5
86-90 Errol Street
North Melbourne Vic 3051
Tel: (03) 9329 5394