Camille Allcroft heads to the pretty Cheshire market town of Knutsford to sample the culinary delights of The Courthouse
The grandiose setting of The Courthouse makes an attractive destination for a bite to eat or a drink or two. The striking building has retained its architectural splendour and it now forms part of the local Flat Cap Hotel Group which also includes The Vicarage situated nearby.
We took our seats for lunch in the elegant dining room, which is flooded with natural light from the spectacular domed glass ceiling. Diners will find the menu equally impressive, with Executive Chef Steven Tuke creating accomplished dishes which focus on seasonal and locally sourced produce.
The stylish dining room has been sympathetically restored, retaining the original features of the space such as gleaming wood panelling, with the addition of contemporary bespoke art, a well-stocked bar and plush velvet and floral upholstery which bring the vibe right up to date.
We perused the menu which offers a variety of appealing options such as 5-hour slow braised shin of beef, open lasagne of wild mushrooms and a range of nibbles and sides. When it comes to drinks, there’s an extensive wine list and a varied selection of cocktails to choose from alongside the ‘bartender’s choice’, of classics including bramble and espresso martini as well as quirky options which give a nod to the history of the building – ‘Justice is done’ is a refreshing blend of limoncello, Frangelico, citron vodka and Pinot Grigio.
Our starters arrived quickly and a cured meats platter laden with Parma ham, pastrami, chorizo, olives, pickles and dressed rocket proved to be a tempting start to the meal and the flavoursome meats were tasty with wedges of crusty farmhouse bread. Another starter of pumpkin velouté was silky smooth and ideal for a chilly February day, alongside slices of white bloomer bread and creamy herb butter.
On to mains and the range of roasts are hard to resist if you visit on a Sunday. Roasted chicken with butter roasted potatoes, celeriac purée, seasonal vegetables, glazed Chantenay carrots, wilted greens and red wine gravy was a classic Sunday roast with a towering Yorkshire pudding taking centre stage.
The market fish of the day is always a tempting option and the pan-fried baby sole was cooked to tender perfection while shrimp beurre noisette, capers, baby gem, new season potatoes and samphire rounded off this sophisticated dish and tangy sundried tomatoes brought in a welcome Mediterranean twist.
Service was excellent from the attentive team, who were on hand to talk us through the menu and offer advice on wine choices – a glass or two of Joie de Vigne paired well with the fish, with floral and citrus notes.
Dining at Barristers Restaurant is a pleasure for many reasons, not least the impressive surroundings and the varied food and drinks offering. We lingered for coffee but skipped the dessert menu on this occasion – despite the temptation of classics like sticky toffee pudding and crème brûlée!
There are also three individually designed luxury bedrooms at The Courthouse, with eight more due to open soon making it the ideal restaurant with rooms for a night away.
The Courthouse, Knutsford WA16 0PB