Last time I went to the Courthouse for afternoon tea, I fully enjoyed my time there. The Courthouse has a rich history as a functioning courthouse; Alan Turing was trialled for gross indecency here. I, therefore, was very much looking forward to going back a year later to try out their main menu and seeing how much has changed in this hotel, restaurant and events space.*
Decorate The Courthouse
Three grand Christmas trees have been added to the old entrance of the Courthouse, making this venue unmissable! There is some seating outside Barristers Restaurant and some chimineas to keep you toasty if you wish to sit outside.
The inside of Barristers Restaurant is also decorated for the season. A large Christmas tree in one corner and Christmas hats are put on all the busts.
This visit allowed me to see some of the rooms available for guests to stay. The Courthouse has 3 rooms available, with an additional 8 opening soon. Currently, they have a superior bridal suite, a twin king suite and a signature king suite. We got to see the first two of these. As the building is listed, a lot of the original features remain and the decor is in keeping with the style. The rooms are priced at £125 for bed and breakfast for one night for two people, with the signature king suite priced at £165. There are other offerings which combine a dinner or afternoon tea.
Repeating these word from my previous visit, there are two adjoining large rooms, which you can use for events, and one has its own bar! You can use these for special occasions such as wedding receptions, meetings, team building away days etc.
The staff at the bar can make drinks to your requirements if there is nothing which suits you on the menu. In total, we tried out 3 different mocktails from passionfruit, rose and blackberry. My favourite was definitely the rose one, which if you had met me 5 years ago, I would have baulked at. Perhaps as I get older, I’m appreciating drinks that are not as sweet.
Opening Statement / Nibbles
To start, we had a selection of bread which came with two types of flavoured butter. One with watercress blended and the other some sort of chilli or pepper. The bread was fresh and soft; I particularly enjoyed the butter flavoured with watercress. Deep fried Padron peppers were also served with sea salt and roasted garlic mayonnaise. This was ok, but nothing amazing. What I did like was the black pudding and mozzarella bonbon served next to it. It had much more depth of flavour and yes, I did dip that into the garlic mayonnaise. It’s a shame that this is not on the menu; I think it was part of the previous seasonal menu.
Proceedings / Starter
I chose the goat’s cheese mousse since I wanted a lighter starter to go with my heavier main. These came with marinated vine tomatoes, pickled beetroot, compressed cucumber and dill oil. I definitely enjoyed the freshness of the tomatoes and cucumber. I felt the beetroot wasn’t pickled enough, or perhaps it was because there was so much goat’s cheese. Now, I do love goat’s cheese so it feels a little weird to say there was too much, but there was in comparison to the rest of the dish. I would be happy with less cheese and more tomatoes!
Main Evidence and side bar / Main and sides
I opted for the open lasagne, which contained creamed wild mushrooms, garlic, leeks & spinach, pine nuts, white truffle oil and parmesan. It’s worth noting that as parmesan is made using animal rennet, it is strictly not vegetarian contrary to the label on the menu. However, Regato cheese can be substituted if you ask.
The lasagne was very creamy and heavy. Despite my best efforts to start with a lighter starter, I maybe only ate through half of this. This wasn’t because it was inedible, but rather the portion size was overly generous. This dish could benefit from a small portion of lasagna and maybe something fresher to offset it like a salad, or roasted tomatoes. The side dishes were good. The mixed vegetables weren’t cooked to death, which is nice and the fat cut chips had a good texture being crispy enough on the outside and soft in the middle.
Closing argument / Dessert
I went for the ‘Courthouse’ black forest gateaux as Cath was going on about how amazing it was. This was presented as a dark chocolate sponge cherry shaped sponger, with cherry cremeux and kirsch cherry gel. It looked awesome and tasted just as good. However, it was very rich and I think something lighter would have helped with the balance of this dish. Perhaps some cream, some apple jelly cubes or fresh cherries?
Overall rating and comments
7.5/10, -1.5 for the portion size issues of various things. -0.5 for the balance of flavours in the lasagne and dessert. -0.5 for the misunderstanding of parmesan in a vegetarian dish. I half suspect the menu creator wanted to make everything at roughly the same price point, including the vegetarian options; there really is no need to do this as the quality of the ingredients speaks for itself. Vegetables can cost less than a good cut of meat. Smaller portions in the vegetarian options is not a bad thing! Most importantly, the lasagne, as mentioned, could benefit from more balance of flavours.
What the Courthouse does is good food, they just need to get that balance of everything on the plate right.
Would visit again?
It’s a solid choice if you are near Knutsford. It’s not far from the train station, so you can even enjoy your meal with a tipple.
Address: Toft Road, Knutsford WA16 0PB
Have you been to Knutsford before? Do you like learning about the history of buildings?
Leave your comments below!
I was invited to the Courthouse and did not have to pay for my meal. All opinions are my own.