County Court Road, Cheltenham, GL50 1HB | (01242) 500930
Located in the centre of Cheltenham, The Old Courthouse is a restaurant and pub that offers a varied food menu and wide range of beers, wines and spirits.
The jury’s out on just what Jamie Oliver would think of The Old Courthouse, the new Cheltenham pub restaurant which has replaced his town centre Jamie’s Italian. But SoGlos’s journalists got a sneak preview at the new gastropub the day before it officially opened, to deliver their own verdict.
The Old Courthouse, the new Cheltenham pub restaurant which replaces Jamie’s Italian, offers a laidback blend of drinking, dining and socialising in a unique building we’re pleased to see re-open. Superior to nearby town centre chains, it’s sure to become a popular day and night-time destination. Try the Asian salad, a game of Scrabble and its impressive selection of real ales.
While those familiar with the Cheltenham outpost of Jamie’s Italian will recognise The Old Courthouse’s layout, the recently refurbished three-floor pub restaurant still retains plenty of nods to its former life as a county court – not just in its name – while injecting new personality into the venue.
The private dining room is labelled the ‘counsel and solicitors room’, a bookshelf filled with leather-bound law books dominates one wall, while upstairs retains the impressive courtroom layout that many had come to love. And, of course, just like at Jamie’s, the lavatories remain in the basement in the former holding cells. Getting rid of those really would have been a crime!
While The Old Courthouse now features a traditional gentleman’s club decor – think an eclectic mix of cricket, fishing and horse racing prints, dark wood panelling and green chesterfields – in stark contrast, the atmosphere is lively and welcoming.
Both! Owners Brunning & Price describe its growing collection of ‘pub restaurants’ as ‘informal places for people who like to meet, eat, drink and talk in a relaxed friendly atmosphere’. And its first opening in the south west fits this perfectly.
While we were initially unsure whether to wait to be seated or order food at the bar, we soon got into the more laidback swing of things – picking a table near the bar and ordering directly from a friendly, helpful waitress. It’s nice to have the option of both, with drinkers and diners all mixed together in an open, relaxed and social space.
The food menu is fun and vibrant, prepared freshly and arriving lightening-quick, just what you need on a lunch break or when you’re starting your evening off.
The black pudding fritters with apple sauce and crispy baby squid with a sweet chilli sauce were both pleasing starters we would order again. With an excellent quality rib-eye steak, served with chunky chips, more classic gastropub fare.
The Asian salad, meanwhile, was a nice surprise on the menu, offering a generous helping of chunky king prawns and a smattering of rice noodles, lifted with flecks of fresh mint, hunks of refreshing watermelon, and a mild chilli kick.
Also surprising was the quality of the desserts, sometimes an afterthought on pub menus. The warm and gooey brownie oozing melted chocolate was a particular mid-week treat, well worth the calories. The waffle with banoffee ice cream dish was spot on.
Offering a totally different approach to Jamie’s Italian, with not a pasta dish in sight, The Old Courthouse is a cool, relaxed and casual addition to the social scene on this side of Cheltenham and a great choice whether you’re looking for somewhere to meet for coffee, have a lunch date or start a big night out.
While we can’t vouch for what the naked chef would make of the new Cheltenham venue, the SoGlos team thinks it’s pretty pukka.
The Old Courthouse is certain to become one of the best town centre drinking destinations for ale fans in particular, with an impressive selection on tap. It was great to see local choices from Hillside, Battledown, Prescott and Wye Valley breweries – and we loved seeing the ‘beer miles’ displayed on the blackboard too.
Forget your specs? Don’t worry! The Old Courthouse has a selection of reading glasses available to borrow – perfect for focusing on a sociable game of Scrabble or a hand of gin rummy with the pub’s playing cards. There’s even a couple of Etch-a-Sketch’s to keep the kids entertained.
By Michelle Fyrne
Thursday 15 February 2018
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