The Old Court House complex makes a delightful change from the noise and energy of the market place on a Friday or Saturday night. Four café/ bars have been shoehorned into what was once the giftware and leather goods quarter. Four bars in a row, each one offering a different experience. There it is, perhaps I am showing my age, but to sit, drink a decent beer and to be able to have a conversation, well these things are important to me.
Sitting close to, but not on top of the Opera house, and nestling in the shadow of the Crescent, that tragic ridiculous building that still languishes in disrepair and decay, trapped in a spiral of rising costs, and inactivity for the last 23 years, the Old Court House is the go to destination for anyone wanting a quieter but no less stimulating meal or drink.
There is a bohemian air to it and on a Friday night or a Wednesday night some of the bars provide a live venue for some of the up and coming and not so up an coming local bands. It provides the stage for an eclectic mix of real ale guru, and music lover, the hip and the artificial hip mixing together as it were.
Once a month Malcolm and I meet up on a Saturday lunch time to enjoy a few beers and to have lunch. We had planned to drink and eat at the Tap House, and when we arrived bright and early and as bushy tailed as a couple of fifty year olds can be, it was quiet. They had celebrated the Tap House’s second birthday on the Friday night, but despite the late night, the place was as welcoming and as efficient as always.
Soon after we had settled down with a couple of pints of their draught and locally brewed stout (The Tap House is owned by Buxton Brewery) the space was invaded by thirty or so lads obviously on a stag weekend or on a pub crawl.
Mr and Mr Grumpy decided that the noise and the traffic jam at the bar were too much, so we decamped to the Old Courthouse wine bar two doors down, the Thornbridge brewery owned bar. Having settled in, we were the only drinkers, we decided to eat there and to have the meat and cheese platter.
The atmosphere here is more continental, drinks can be brought to the table and a tab set up. I started with their Belgian blonde beer, not brewed by them, and then after a disappointing pint of Spartan lager moved onto the house Rioja. I know wine and beer etc. Well there it is, I never learn.
Malcolm stuck to pints of AM:PM which they describe as an all-day IPA and is brewed by Thornbridge. It passed Malcolm’s critical palate, well he had a second pint!
The platter was excellent, the cheeses in particular went very well with the beer and the service and presentation was relaxed and unfussy. The olives and sun dried tomatoes offset the sweetness of the meats, and there was enough chopped apple and pear to qualify for one of my five a day.
As the bar filled up we decided to move back to the Tap House and rounded the afternoon off with more beer, or wine in my case and a glass of the Imperial Stout.
A great way to spend a Saturday lunch time, and the Tap House do a decent and well-priced Sunday lunch which is well worth a visit. Even better they allow dogs so Lilly my collie and I often pop in for a pint after one of our weekend walks.