The Court of Requests, Oldbury

It’s not every day you can say you had dinner in a former Black Country courthouse, writes our undercover food reviewer The Insider.

It’s not every day you can say you had dinner in a former Black Country courthouse, writes our undercover food reviewer The Insider.

Let alone a former courthouse and a library. But following my visit to the Court of Requests in Oldbury, I can now say I have done both.

JD Wetherspoons opened the new pub in January after a £1.25 million revamp and before my visit I was expecting to walk into a generic Wetherspoons pub.

But I must admit they’ve done the venue proud.

Okay, it’s still a Wetherspoons establishment, so cheap food and drink are the order of the day. And the patterned carpet leaves a lot to be desired, but that’s just my opinion.

But as soon as you step foot inside the Church Street venue the history of the building hits you slap bang in the face.

The pub was most recently Oldbury Library, which it had been since 1979 until its closure last year when the town’s glossy new library opened in nearby Halesowen Street.

Bookcases filled with books line the walls in a nod to the building’s past.

The Grade II listed building was built in 1816, and is one of the oldest in the town.

A Court of Requests was established there for the recovery of debts in 1807 and the building was initially a courthouse and police station. The court room on the first floor retains its original features.

It also included a jail with cells for male and female prisoners.

But there was no sign of prisoners on my visit, just a mix of after-work drinkers and couples old and young enjoying an early evening meal.

The design of individual rooms was inspired by the building’s previous uses, including library, cells, courtroom and dining room, while an original cell door has been incorporated, as well as the prisoners’ exercise-yard.

Outdoors there is a pleasant beer garden with seating, and a car park.

Being a Wetherspoons, the pub offers a range of ‘nights’ with Curry Club on a Thursday and Sunday Club on, well, er Sunday.

But my visit was Tuesday and Tuesday is Steak Club. Yum.

Love a good steak I do, and luckily my companion on the night was also partial.

The premise of the menu is simple.

You choose a main dish for £7.25 including a drink, then you can add sauces, side orders and desserts, for just a few pounds each.

Being steak night there’s not really much choice for vegetarians, although the main menu was still available, and for those who eat fish, salmon fillet is an option.

Now, bear in mind you get a free drink in the £7.25 and you’ll see what I mean about cheap food. You can have a soft drink, a pint of beer or cider, a glass of wine or a spirit and mixer, or even go for a non-alcoholic beer.

I opted for the mixed grill – gammon, pork loin, rump steak, lamb chops, and a pork sausage while my companion went for the 8oz sirloin steak and made the dish a combo meal by adding buffalo chicken wings for an extra £2.50.

Both meals came with chips, peas, tomato and a flat mushroom, but we decided to add a side order of onion rings and a creamy crushed green and black peppercorn sauce.

I received a friendly greeting at the bar while I made my order and was told the food would be around 15 minutes.

And like clockwork the food came.

My mixed grill was lovely, and the plate came clean, and not laden with grease as I’ve had with some mixed grills.

The portion was generous and to be fair, too much – I couldn’t eat it all. The chips were tasty, the onion rings were crisp, and the meat was all cooked well but not overcooked.

My companion had asked for a well done steak which came perfectly. The meat was cooked all the way through and not pink, yet still tender and not cremated. The chicken wings were spicy, but unfortunately tasted like they had been reheated in a microwave and slightly rubbery, but otherwise, another thumbs up.

It would have been rude not to go for dessert – especially at a mere £1.99 extra if you order a meal, so I went for the pancakes with ice cream. They come with either strawberry and blueberry compote or maple syrup, but I went for the latter.

The three large scotch-style pancakes came with two generous dollops of good, creamy, vanilla ice cream and the pancakes were fluffy and light.

The bill for two people came to just £21.43, and for the standard of food on our visit, you’d be hard pressed to get better value than that.

And if you’re not happy with your meal, I’m sure there’s an old jail cell somewhere in the building you can throw the chef in...

ADDRESS

The Court of Requests, Church Street, Oldbury, West Midlands B69 3AF

Tel: 0121 543 6970

Web: www.jdwetherspoon.co.uk/home/pubs/the-court-of-requests

MENU SAMPLE

STARTERS
Buffalo chicken wings with barbecue sauce
Southern-fried-style chicken strips
Nachos with guacamole, mature cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream and jalapenos.
MAINS
Sweet chilli noodles with a whole sliced chicken breast
Bacon carbonara pasta
Breaded scampi and chips
Chicken tikka masala
14oz Aberdeen Angus rump steak
DESSERTS
Fruit salad and yoghurt
Warm chocolate fudge cake with ice cream
Bramley apple, pear and raspberry crumble

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