The first time we went to the Courthouse Brasserie was because the couple we had gone out with on the last time picked a disaster of a restaurant and wanted to make it up to us. He had been to this restaurant once before and had been really impressed by it. I had to admit that I had never heard of the restaurant and went with hesitation after the last fiasco. When we arrived in an off the traveled area of downtown Detroit we arrived at the parking lot of the restaurant. As I looked at the rather disheveled façade of the building, there was a sense of déjà vu as it had been the old Benno’s restaurant, which was named after the chef who was a real character in his own right. When we got to the door of the restaurant which was not inviting from the outside, the door was locked. We rang the bell and the over an intercom system we were asked if we had a reservation, and we acknowledged that we had. The door was opened and we entered a small hallway that led to a very small, but cozy dining room.
A young waiter came by and brought water, menus and the wine list. The two lists were both short in their listing, but appeared well thought out. In a few minutes another man came out of the kitchen to take our order, and this was the chef. He went over the menu and a couple of specials for the evening, and went into fine detail discussing the preparation of each dish. You could tell he was very proud of his craft and his brasserie. The term brasserie was a misnomer for this dining room, as brasserie evokes a place of constant motion and noise, and this restaurant was almost a cathedral dedicated to fine food and service. There were maybe twenty tables in total and some were only for a couple to dine at. I also can not show a matchbook from this establishment, as it had a non-smoking policy, prior to the mandated rules, basically because it was such a small room.
My Bride was going to order salmon, is as her wont, but she was intrigued by a fish she had never heard of called John Dory from Australia, and she wanted to try something new. I had ordered a Rack of Lamb Dijonaise and the other couple had ordered beef dishes, so my Bride consented to having red wine with her dinner, because of the rest of us. I ordered a bottle of Cotes du Rhone Domaine des Moulins wine, because I felt that it would be a lighter red to go with her fish, and still work with the red meat orders. A Cotes du Rhone wine is always one of my go-to wines as it seems to please most people as it has a softer, mellow nose and taste. It is usually softer in tannins that can be a put off for people that are not used to a full bodied wine. The wine I picked was a hit for the diners, as well as the food. Our host had redeemed himself.
The young man that had brought out the menus also brought out the wine and food as it was prepared. After dinner the Chef returned to our table and introduced himself as Ravi Dhanjal, he was an Indian native who had grown up in London and studied the culinary arts in France and had settled in the Detroit area. He excused himself to talk to some of the other diners, and since we had ordered a second bottle of wine we were just enjoying our selves. We ended up being the last patrons in the room and the Chef returned to our table so we invited him to sit down, have a glass of wine, relax and talk awhile. All in all, it was a grand time for all.