THE owners of the Old Courthouse have done an amazing job of redeveloping the site into a classy bar venue, but what about the food?
Would the chef win his case or be sentenced to life for heinous crimes against the Chook’s tastebuds?
The Old Courthouse’s menu leaned towards the nibbles-and-drink brigade with dedicated sections for cheese, grazing plates, salads, nibbles and “cured, pickled and preserved”.
There were also some light meals like reuben sandwich, spiced chickpea fritter and choripan roll, as well as a rotisserie with quarter, half and whole free-range chicken.
But I believe a main is a good test of a chef’s mettle so I went for “today’s catch simply grilled” (barramundi $36).
Former Chook Jenny D’Anger and I opted to sit in the pavilion, which flowed into a lovely outdoor area dappled in shade from mature peppermint trees.
Playing softly in the background was inoffensive dance music with Jamiroquai conjuring up images of 90s funk and silly hats.
The place felt inviting and relaxing, like somewhere where you could enjoy a long lingering lunch, with multiple zones to cater for all types of weather.
It wasn’t long before the bubbly waiter was back with our lunch.
My barramundi was beautifully presented with the thick fillet perched precariously on a dainty panzanella salad.
The fish had been cooked to perfection with glistening, soft white juicy flesh and a crispy skin.
The lemon butter and herbs were subtle, allowing the fish to shine, although I would have liked an additional wedge of lemon for a citrus boost.
The accompanying panzanella salad was a delicious, light medley of red and yellow tomatoes. A fragrant summer dish with the croutons adding a satisfying crunch.
My only bugbear: perfect size for a light lunch, but too small for dinner. Why not include some baby potatoes?
Ordering roasted potatoes as a separate side ($10) took the whole dish up to $46, which is expensive.
Across the table, Jenny was enjoying her eggplant cannelloni ($26).
“It’s inspirational – wafer thin slices of aubergine wrapped around a soft, creamy and garlicky filling,” she said.
“The cannelloni is complemented by a delicious tomato sugo, and the generous scattering of sharp parmesan cheese is the icing on the cake of a great lunch.”
Situated on Henderson Street, The Old Courthouse is open seven days a week, which has to be commended in this tough hospitality environment. It also helps activate that neglected pocket of town around the markets during the week.
Our food was top notch, the service great and the venue is amazing, weaving the historic past into the present.
A few more mains wouldn’t go a miss and including sides would help keep the price down.
I’ll be back to try the rotisserie chicken and see if I can get early release for good behaviour.
45 Henderson St, Fremantle
by STEPHEN POLLOCK