Old Courthouse Jamie’s old gaff, now a pub/restaurant
The Old Courthouse:
Pleasant food in the rather grand (by pub standards) setting of Cheltenham’s Old Courtroom. Head upstairs if you’re dining. Probably the second most impressive dining room in Cheltenham, after The Ivy. This is, I’d say, better value. You can do the Cafe Grande thing (see below).
The Longer Read:
The Old Courthouse is a Brunning and Price pub. It’s in County Court Road, Cheltenham. If that throws you a bit, it basically overlooks Regent Street, a stone’s throw from The Everyman. The building used to be Jamie’s ‘Italian’, which I don’t think is much missed. Jamie’s always seemed to be very much run by the accountants. Once, a friend shows his Jamie loyalty card (for ‘pukka treats and little extras’) and was solemnly offered 3 olives on a dish.
Anyway, on to the new pub. Brunning and Price ran a successful North Wales pub group and, a while back, were sold to The Restaurant Group. That company also owns the likes of (sigh) Frankie & Bennie’s and (sigh) Garfunkels. The Old Courthouse pub is therefore part of a national chain. There are few things we at Critical Cheltenham dislike more than corporate restaurant flim flam, but to be fair, we were pleasantly surprised at The Old Courthouse.
Old Courthouse layout and decor
Firstly, the building is pretty interesting. There’s a downstairs and an upstairs. Downstairs is more pub-like, upstairs has more of a restaurant feel. Originally the downstairs rooms were public waiting areas, upstairs was the court Chamber. The basement is loos and wine storage.
If it’s your first visit, head upstairs I’d say. It’s an elegant room. You walk past a large set of bookshelves with books-by-the-yard. There were at least three books that I would have happily snaffled if I wasn’t the law-abiding sort. Plus, the setting puts you off petty theft. One of the books is quite a valuable first edition that I suppose I’d better not name.
The walls have been covered in faux judge portraits and various other retro pictures. It’s potentially a bit naff, a la Cosy Club, but they just about get away with it. The overall impression is really quite good. It’s spotless. There are some fun bits and pieces from the original courtroom. Best of all seating is on different levels, with various odd corners to hide in so instant atmosphere, even on a quiet day.
Food at The Old Courthouse
The Old Courthouse owners are clearly very experienced pub operators. There are some high mark-up, mug-punter ‘nibbles’ (Olives (£3.95), Chorizo (£5.75), Garlic prawns (£5.95)), although I admit I was intrigued by Wood Pigeon Kiev (£7.95).
Mains on the menu are mostly rock-solid gastro pub classics. Beef Bourguignon (£15.95), Sea Trout (£15.95), 10oz Rib Eye (£24.95), Fish and Chips (£13.75), Burger (£12.95) etc. Vegetarians could go for a Sweet Potato, Cauliflower and Chick Pea Tagine (£12.95) or Cheshire Cheese, Potato and Onion Pie. It’s a tempting menu.
Prices are ‘ambitious’ and extras such as vegetables (£3.75), chips (£3.50) rack things up too. That said, the setting is fun, the location is central Cheltenham. And the food turned out to be pretty good.
Cumberland Sausage and Mash (£11.75 or £9.45) was made with pukka (as Jamie would say) sausages, a good creamy mash and a tasty onion gravy. Good pub fare. Our £9.45 option was certainly enough for lunch. The Appleby Cheshire Cheese Pie (£12.95) came with carrot purée, parsnips and stocky sauce. Also some cabbage that had been cooked recently, by someone taking care. That said, on a later early evening return visit, the same dish had a slight school dinner quality. Possibly it was left over from lunch service.
The Old Courthouse – Puddings etc
I had cheese and biscuits (£6.95 for 3), which is an indication that I was enjoying things. Double Gloucester, Stinking Bishop and Bath Blue were suitably local – I really hope they were from the admirable Cheese Works over the road. Cheeses were NOT straight out of the fridge which was pleasing.
Puddings are each around six quid and include Sticky Toffee pudding, Chocolate Tart, Brownie, Creme Brûlée. Again, rock solid gastro pub options. I like that The Old Courthouse has that great French idea, a ‘Cafe Grande’ option whereby you can order coffee and a sample of pudding for £5.95. Sticky toffee pudding and a warm brownie ordered that way were pretty good – and fairly substantial. Coffee was a bit average.
Beer was from Gloucester Brewery. Tick. The bar staff were baffled when I asked for a Negroni, although honest about it. Generally, service was genuine and warm. If you tip, the staff get it. Incidentally, the online menu has a clever allergen filter.
Mon – Thu: Noon – 9.30pm, Fri – Sat Noon – 10pm. Sun: Noon to 9pm.