It felt like an emergency; no one could think of anything for dinner, and we were running out of time before the hangry came out. Court Street was the first idea, but having my reservations, I sought other options. After getting progressively hungrier studying menus, we settled on Court Street anyway. Never have been a huge fan, but I was hoping this time would convert me.
After waiting in the front bar, which was rowdy because of St. Patrick’s, we were sat at a table in the dinning room. The menu is sleek on the outside, but the inside feels clunky, more rushed. For the holiday, our breadbasket included some Irish soda bread, a sweet pleasant surprise to our famished bellies. After deliberation and eating the olive tapenade with a fork (ok, maybe that was just me), we ordered just mains.
My father had the Beef Burgundy, which was served on a bed of yellow egg noodles. The stew looked pretty non-descript, with similar colored meat chunks, carrots and other dull veggies. The portion was heaping and the sauce hot. No complaints from my dad.
For my mother, the penne with seared scallops, artichoke hearts, tomato, and basil, coated in a little garlicky olive oil, which was one of the specials. The plate was attractive, but just looked like pasta. The plump scallops had a nice sear, and the garlic and tomatoes played up their sweetness. Each penne was al dente, a nice textural counter point to the succulence of the scallops and the acidic tomatoes.
The chicken Francaise that my sister had was tasty, but dull. It was something that would have tasted just as good if made at home. The mashed potatoes were the same. The battered chicken, drowned in a lemon butter sauce was not totally dry, but flavorless. It would do for the extreme hunger situation.
I took a leap and ordered the panko-encrusted tuna dish— sushi grade tuna, seared but a perfect rare on the inside. That is what I got, but it too lacked flavor and excitement. For some reason the fish was quite lemony and the panko crust almost overwhelming. The sauces on the side (a thin, wet spicy wasabi dressing, and a thick sesame aioli) made up for the missing flavor in the fish. The wasabi addition was super hot and almost uncomfortable.
In the end, once again, the best things seemed to be sides and garnish. First of all, the olive tapenade served with the bread is super amazing, briny, creamy, chunky and delicious. The vegetable of the evening, sautéed green beans, were salty, buttery, tasty and addictive. And that puree garnish, sitting pretty on the plate, was sweet and savory, like carrots.
A quick look at the dessert menu told us everything we needed to know. There was nothing remotely tempting or different for dessert, so quite unlike us, we skipped it.
All this being said, Court Street is like a family place. Eating there is almost like sitting down to dinner at home and digging into home-cooked food. There is nothing extraordinary about the food, the menu or the place, but that is not what it’s supposed to be. Court Street has stood the test of time with a focus on traditional food and that warm atmosphere. It is not about the avant-garde or innovative, but the classics that people can rely on. If only those classics were taken up a notch.