Sunday, 28 December 2014

The Court (Summer Menu Launch), Northbridge, Western Australia (Alissa and Don Eat Australia)

I have to admit a slight prejudice; I'm not really a fan of the kind of 'Parmi and Pint' food often served at old hotel pubs. Chicken Parmigiana is alright and all, its just a little too safe and easy for me; its the kind of food favoured by an older and conservative generation who would never try sashimi or sweetbreads or anything remotely adventurous, and its something I could easily whip up at home with very little effort at all. So when Alissa and I were invited to the launch of the Court's new Summer Menu, we accepted the invite with a little trepidation - would they deliver their pub style menu with enough panache to allow it to rise above the usual pub grub fare? Given the progressive nature of the venue and the behind the scenes effort that had apparently gone into the new menu, we had high hopes that it just might. 

I've never been to the Court during the day, and I was surprised by how nice and inviting their main courtyard space is. With sunny skies, warm but comfortable weather and a light, pleasing breeze blowing through, they could not have asked for better weather to support the space's ambiance. I can imagine this space being very, very popular as the Summer sets in. 

Located under the shade of a tall tree, our tables were stunningly decorated with spherical bowls housing flower arrangements and our glassware and cutlery nicely laid out. While we waited for all the invitees to arrive, Alissa and I mingled with other Perth bloggers while the friendly staffed served up glasses of champagne. 

The meal was served in three courses, with entrees brought out for buffet-style self service. The Brown Rice Salad with Sundried Tomato, Fetta and pieces of Chicken was a nice, fresh and light start to the proceedings, and one that was meaty enough to serve as a main in its own right. The malty, almost bitter taste of brown rice is not among my favourite things, however the accompanying ingredients helped support the rice and make for a tasty and healthy option. 

Fried Calamari is so ubiquitous in Australia it almost our de facto national dish. I love it, and as such am very critical of venues that get it wrong. Thankfully, the Court's version was on point, with the Calamari nicely seasoned and perfectly crispy. Combined with a good sweet chilli sauce as a dip, this was a very tasty rendition of a classic.

Indian flavours make a few appearances on the Court's Summer menu, with a shared Indian Board and a Butter Chicken Curry as a main on offer. Its a shame we didn't get to try more of these dishes, as their take on Onion Bhaji was quite good, and impressed me with a fairly authentic flavour and pleasing spiciness. 

The Court's Sausage Rolls were another good take on another Australian classic. The pastry was nice, crisp and flaky, with a flavoursome sausage meat filling. For me, the Sausage Rolls made by Marco's Fussy Meats are the gold standard when it comes to flavour and quality, and while this was a step below, it was better than many so-called award winning sausage rolls I've eaten at bakeries throughout the state. Definitely a crowd pleasing offering. 

The Smoked Salmon and Avocado Salad seemed a bit strange to me, as its plating seemed geared more to style than substance. As pretty as the rolled up pieces of smoked salmon looked, Alissa and I felt the self-assembly style of the presentation didn't really work, even if the flavour combination of spinach leaves, cucumber ribbons, capers and a sesame seed vinaigrette was quite agreeable.  

The Pulled Pork Slider on the other hand was easily the best of the Share plate dishes we tried, and the second best dish of the day. This was seriously delicious, with the flavoursome Pulled Pork featuring a pleasing smokiness, saltiness and spiciness. Accompanied by a very good house made coleslaw and a nicely toasted bun, this is would be a strong recommendation. 

The Beef Slider on the other hand was a point of contention. Alissa liked it, praising the patty for not being tough and tasteless, and a nice combination with the bun and salad fillings. For me, the patty tasted a bit meatloafy, suggesting the use of fillers or breadcrumbs to keep it together. I have to admit I'm really fussy when it comes to beef burgers - I loved the Merrywell, however I didn't even rate the patties at the famous Alfred's Kitchen for similar suspected filler-related reasons - so your mileage my vary.

Already pretty well fed by entrees, we moved onto our order of mains, selected from a shortlist of some of their best dishes. Alissa decided to go with the Grilled Salmon Fillet with Cos, Cherry Tomatoes, Sautéed Green Beans and Spanish Onion. The salmon itself was well executed, being cooked all the way through without being dry. I personally like my salmon medium rare, but in some ways cooking a salmon all the way leaves less room for error, and the fact that it was still moist is even more impressive. The skin on top was perfectly crispy too, and combined with the tasty salad, this was a healthy, well cooked and satisfying main. 

As good as the salmon was, Alissa had serious dish envy when the Pulled Pork Fettuccine I ordered arrived. The flavour of the Pulled Pork was commendably different to the Slider, having a marsala-like sweetness that worked well for the pork, but would not have worked with a more traditional beef ragu. The pasta was perfectly al dente, and the portion was extremely generous to say the least. This was without hesitation the dish of the day - a dish that deftly walked the line between being a comfortable crowd pleaser while also being cheffy enough to be distinctive. 

Being very full after the huge serving size of the mains, it was probably for the best that dessert came in liquid form thanks to the Court's Dessert Cocktails menu. We all moved to the bar to watch a demonstration of the two drinks being made. With the manager egging him on... 

... our bartender soon pulled off his shirt to reveal his fit physique, much to the delight of the snap-happy, largely female audience in attendance. 

The two drinks on offer for us to sample were the raspberry flavoured Lollytini...

... and the milky, chocolatey Cookies and Cream. 

Alissa and I sampled the Lollytini first. Back when I first got into cocktails in the early 2000s, I was mostly into sweeter cocktails that I used to refer to as 'alcoholic Wendy's'. The Lollytini definitely fit that bill, complete with a rim coated in 100s and 1000s. It use of Chambord and Absolut Raspberri took me back to many fun cocktails parties in my late teens and early 20s during which both ingredients were regularly featured favourites. While my tastes nowadays lean towards more obviously boozy cocktails made with old school ingredients like Chartreuse and Luxardo Maraschino, my younger self would have absolutely loved this and its easy drinking quality, and I imagine it would appeal to a very broad audience, too.  

Alissa and I agreed however that the Cookies and Cream was the better of the two cocktails. Newly added to the menu, the chocolatey, milky flavour was again in the Alcoholic Wendy's Style, but more ably balanced out the sweetness due to a richer, creamier flavour and body . The chocolate and cookie encrusted rim was the best part, with the small pieces of cookie giving texture and crunch to the otherwise smooth beverage. Both cocktails are perfect for summer, though I can imagine the Cookies and Cream making a nice after dinner drink right through the wintertime too. 

The Verdict: Very Good
Alissa and I enjoyed our lunch at the Court, and I am happy to say that the Court's new menu was a cut above the usual standard of pub food in Perth. While all their dishes were in a fairly accessible Pub Grub style, classic dishes like the Calamari and the Salmon were prepared skilfully, and the offering of Indian dishes showed a kitchen that is certainly willing to try different things. While they do have Chicken Parmigiana on the menu for the die hards, I seriously recommend going with the two Pulled Pork dishes instead, with the Pulled Pork Fettuccine in particular being a dish worthy of our strong recommendation.

The Court on Urbanspoon 


  1. Woah! I also commented the same thing on Kristy's page but damn the calamari looks bloody phenomenal. You can see the crunch on it from first sight. The taste, must have been pretty damn explosive in the mouth too hehe!

    1. Yeah, I was pretty happy with them! I'm such a sucker for good Calamari

    2. Haha I love deep fried foods too! Especially those treated with respect :).

  2. This was such a fun day! And beautiful weather to enjoy the festivities :)

    1. I know, right? It couldn't have been better weather!