Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

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It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Courthouse Hotel

86–90 Errol Street
North Melbourne
VIC 3051
(03) 9329 5394

Hello hello hello!  I'd like you to accompany me down to the station... and then the court house... and then eventually I guess you'll end up in chokey.

Or in this case, let's go for a heart starter at the Station, dine at the Courthouse and eat so much you nearly will choke(y).

It's been a while between drinks, and for this I am truly sorry. Watching the Olympics™, working on a deck build and generally doing stuff at work has put a dent in my productivity.... in the slacking off-sphere of blogging about cramming one's cake hole full of tuck at the very least.

However – the voice of the people has been unanimous: "Move away from the door, and read the restraining order more carefully this time."  This is sometimes followed by: "If you wish to communicate with me, send a blog."

So here I am... in blog format!  Take that legal eagles!  Now, read on!

I went for lunch to the Courthouse Hotel last week and it was excellent; but I do not know why it is named thusly.  It is close to the Town Hall, which is nothing like a court house.  I guess there was already a Town Hall Hotel on Errol St.

And it couldn't be called the Czech-Slovakian Club either, because that's around the corner, and that was taken too.

Perhaps it was a court house once in its previous existence; but if so, the judges were all in session over the wine list, used their gavels as meat tenderisers exclusively, and no one was ever punished, except for several livers.  But nobody likes liver anyway.

"Big deal," I hear you interject from the bench. "Lunch at the Courthouse?" – you continue in that high pitched telepathic voice of yours, as though your brain has been breathing helium – "It's been a gastropub for over a decade" (I don't blame you at all for the squeaky telpathic-voice, incidentally, as telepathy is infamous for having very poor bass levels).

In reply to your thoughts:

Yes, you're quite right!  It has been a gastro-pub for ages.  In fact, I've even heard it suggested that they were the very first people to put gastro and pub into the same sentence, though the jury's still out on that one ("Take my mother in law, please!").

Located on the corner at the entrance to crazy town – the nearby tram goes to several homeless men's shelters – when I've previously suggested going to dine at the Courthouse, companions have balked at it being "too expensive", and forced me to slum it with Singapore noodles or a burger before going  somewhere unsalubrious such as the Comics Lounge, or the Town Hall Hotel to drink Carrrrrrrlton and watch Sumo wrestling to rock and roll on gummy carpet.

Well not this time.  I got to eat at the pricey place. And I was pleasantly surprised, mostly because it wasn't that pricey.

First stop, they have split level menus and pricing; a front bar menu and a restaurant menu.  Not that the front bar menu is anything to sneeze at: tasmanian oysters (my favourite) with an option of eel dressing.  Still, they could rethink the "pie of the day" - it was meat with chili and beans...  a "chilli con carne" pie.

Shock / horror / general dismay.

If you must be a gastropub with a front bar pie, please, make it something classy.  How about pheasant pie?  Or possibly even hare pie ('Revenge of the Nerds', thank you very much).

With the split pricing, they do a very nice steak sandwich with fries and a glass of wine for something like nineteen bucks, and if you want to you can change the wine for a coffee later, so there's a big tick.

I had the fish and chips; flat head tails, so nothing but the best.  They also have numerous dark ales on tap, excellent cheese platters, and one of my companion's desserts (above) looked the goods in the plating department (and a short note here to Master Chef™, RE: making all five year olds critical of their mothers' plating - get stuffed).

The wine list is thoroughly tip-top and is probably slightly more famous than their food.  While there, we tried a recommended Italian white varietal that was pure heaven.

As I sat with my pals, the sun shining through the window, I poured ablutions down the gunnels on the start of an afternoon long debauch* while thinking to myself: "Does life get any better than this?"

The judgement came back, a clear and resounding "NO"... Or "case of wine dismissed!"

So all in all, justice is blind; so if you'd like some justice, go to the Courthouse and find her holding up the bar (to coin a phrase).  I give the Courthouse Hotel six and a half tentacles out of eight!

*Yes – I know – hell beckons for gluttons, but I am trying to make my life art.   If Jesus doesn't appreciate me liking everything life has to offer, he can wait till I'm dead, and then forgive me... I hope!