The Old Courthouse’s website states that ‘whilst primarily an adult’s environment, children are welcome in the public bar and in the Courtroom until 6pm.’ Always on the lookout for local, family friendly places to recommend, The Cotswold Baby and Toddler Show team sent us along one Saturday afternoon to see just how family friendly this new Cheltenham venue proved to be.
Set in the centre of town on the corner of County Court Road and Regent Street, The Old Courthouse is easily accessible. It is perfectly located for a pit stop whilst out shopping and there are plenty of car parks nearby if you’re just heading into town for lunch or dinner.
Entrance to the restaurant is via County Court Road, where there are 3 small steps to lift or bump your buggy up. We found this to be quick and easy but there is a bell on their side entrance door (Regent Street side) if you require a more accessible entrance.
It’s easy to book either over the phone or online, then once you get there, life revolves around the bar. Head there to let them know you’ve arrived, to grab a drink or if you haven’t booked and want to wait for a table. It’s also the place to go to ask for straws, crayons and anything you may need to get you started.
Our table was all set up with a high chair waiting for Ace and children’s menus so we could order quickly once we had had a look. This was really helpful, as my children do not love waiting for food (absolutely no idea where they get that from)! We had taken the buggy with us, which we were able to slot just behind my chair without it getting in the way, but if it doesn’t contain a sleeping child, I would recommend taking your bag in and leaving the buggy in the entrance foyer, as you will then have more room to manoeuvre.
After ordering, Honey and I went to wash our hands before the food arrived. There are ladies and Gents toilets downstairs and it’s worth a trip just for the magnificent décor, however, we found the accessible toilet on the ground floor to be more suitable for Honey as she could reach the soap, sink and hand dryer without help. There is also a clean, safe baby-changing table in there.
The food arrived swiftly after ordering but Honey and Ace were kept well occupied colouring in the pictures on the back of the menus and playing with some stickers I keep in the changing bag for such occasions. The food looked and smelled delicious and the fact that everyone got started before I had chance to take photos of it was a good sign in my book!
I had the steak burger, which was absolutely delicious, the burger was lovely and juicy and the fillings were fresh and tasty. It came with a generous portion of chips (which were so more-ish, I may have eaten some of Ace’s too) and what was honestly the best coleslaw I’ve ever tasted! My husband really enjoyed the pie and mash and is also a huge advocate for the rhubarb crumble!
The kids both had fish fingers and chips. Honey wolfed hers down, declaring that it was all “super yummy” but Ace was a tougher audience! He shunned his plate because the fish fingers didn’t look the way he was expecting them to… Also, I had forgotten to say “no peas” and Ace finds peas highly offensive. After a while, he deigned to start eating his chips and guzzled those with some of my tomato sauce then asked for more… toddlers!
Between courses, my husband and I took it in turns to go exploring with one or other of the children and they both loved the little games table we found. They brought Etch-a-Sketches, packs of cards and reading glasses (hilarious) back to the table and we had lots of giggles.
The staff were lovely with the children, Honey loves ordering her own food and must have asked the waitress for salted caramel ice cream about 5 times (she wasn’t even there to take a pudding order at the time)! Everyone was really approachable and able to help with anything we needed. At no time did we feel rushed, the atmosphere was bustling so nobody seemed to notice Honey’s loud, excited chatting and singing (apart from us) and nobody batted an eyelid when Ace threw himself on the floor because he didn’t want to have his nappy changed.
If you decide to go along, be sure to leave tine to explore the amazing building after your meal. It dates back to the 1800’s and on taking it over, Brunning and Price worked with local planners to restore many of its original features. Both upstairs and downstairs are really worth a look and you can pick up a leaflet in the main entrance to find out more about the history of the building.
Overall, I’d say that the quote I took from The Old Courthouse website (see first paragraph) describes them perfectly. It’s a sophisticated, grown up venue with no objection to the unpredictability of children. It is by no means a soft play and lollypops setting, but they have clearly thought about families and recognise that just because a couple has a child/children doesn’t mean to say they stop appreciating great food and fabulous surroundings.