Review: Court Inn, Durham City

The Court Inn, in Durham City.
The Court Inn, in Durham City.

Crown court. Most jobbing journalists have witnessed the wheels of the British justice system creaking at some point in their careers.

For what my opinion is worth, I often left cases saddened at just how low humanity can stoop to satisfy their evil cravings.

The beer battered cod loin, chips, peas and bun.

The beer battered cod loin, chips, peas and bun.

Just occasionally, however, there is the odd amusing moment to lighten proceedings.

My own favourite begins with a scene played out on a regular basis in court rooms across the land.

If a defence barrister feels that a judge is in a rush - be it to begin his next case or his weekend hunting - then a common tactic is to, how can I put it, elaborately procrastinate in the hope that his or her honour will eventually snap: “Rest assured, I am minded to impose a community penalty on the defendant.” Result.

One particular day, alas, the judge was not taking the verbal bait.

Realising the game was now one of damage limitation, Mr Defence Barrister concluded: “And I hope your honour will be minded to impose a custodial sentence in terms of months rather than years.”

“Very well,” replied the judge. “Forty-eight months.”

What has all this to do with a food review?

Well, coincidentally, it is about forty-eight months since I last visited the Court Inn, in Court Lane, next to Durham Crown Court.

Arriving at 7,45pm on a Saturday night, it was reassuring to find the bar buzzing with both families and friends either waiting for meals or merely enjoying a drink.

Ready to combine the two, it was an added bonus to be greeted by an old pal in the shape of a pint of Lambton’s cask ale (£3.80) courtesy of Sunderland’s Maxim Brewery.

With my wife opting for a 175ml glass of Pinot Grigio wine and lemonade (£4.25), we were guided to our seats on time and began admiring the varied newspaper-shaped menu.

Deciding to resist the kangaroo and zebra kebabs (£16.50) and the Court’s famed Kobe burgers (from £8.50), we both opted for beer battered loin cod complete with chips, peas, bun and Tartar sauce (£11.50).

As you can see from the accompanying image, we had a lot on our plate and in hindsight would have skipped straight to our mains rather than first sample their wholesome potato and leek soup (£3.95) and tender pork belly (£5.25).

A minor grumble, however, as the cod delighted in terms of quality as well as quantity and we were placed under no pressure to rush our meals.

One latte (£2.20) and another Lambton’s later - neither of us had any room to test the tempting array of sweets (£3.95-£4.25) - we retired to consider our verdicts.

It did not take long to find the Court guilty of all charges: namely intent to supply value for money and tasty food from helpful staff in pleasant surroundings.

This jury intends to resume its deliberations even more thoroughly in far less than forty-eight months.

Court rise.

Ratings out of five

Food: 5

Atmosphere: 5

Value: 5

Service: 4

Last week's review: Riverview Brassiere, Stadium of Light