My dinner club that I write about often, just met for the last time at a venue that we really have enjoyed. The Courthouse Grille in Plymouth will soon be part of the history of this quaint city, as it is being torn down to make room for more housing, and I am not sure if it will be homes, condos or apartments. I first discovered the restaurant when it was The Hillside, and the owner was a big game hunter, and he used to periodically serve big game there, which probably today he would not be allowed to do. Alas I was in high school back then, and I did not save a matchbook from those days, but I did see a matchbook from there in the Plymouth Historical Museum. I next remember it as being Ernesto’s a full-blown white tablecloth Italian restaurant; and on the backside of the restaurant was a sit-down pizzeria called Ernie’s. There was a couple of people that attempted to take over the restaurant, but could not maintain the quality and “Ernie” had to take it over again, but because the name was besmirched, he renamed it The Courthouse Grille and started serving more of a mixed menu, but still with some special Italian dishes that he was noted for.
It was my turn to be host with two other members and it was a bittersweet night for everyone, as the restaurant was going to close 30 December 2018. This was the last time that they would have the chance to choose from a nice mixed menu. The choices for the last dinner was Veal Marsala, Shrimp Scampi Roma, Grilled Salmon, Sautéed Perch, Chicken Tosca, Lasagna and a New York Strip Steak. I know that the New York Strip was the most popular dish, but there was at least one order of each dish that evening, and usually at most restaurants, we are only allowed a choice of three different entrée dishes, and each dish came with a salad. Whenever I get a chance, I will order a veal dish, because it is a meat that we have never prepared at home, so I consider it a real treat.
There was a vote a couple of years ago that changed one of the long-standing rules of dinner, and that was that the hosts no longer pick up the bar tab, just the food portion, and the drinks are a cash bar set-up. There were a few non-drinkers that complained and now, you can order anything you want. I have noticed that a few members that used to order exotic single malt Scotch, now order beers for themselves as dinner. In one sense I find it rather liberating that now myself and one other member will split a bottle of wine, and it sure beats what is offered as house wines. The wine that we had was Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba DOC 2014. Pio Cesare has been making wines since 1881 and they are famed for their Barolo and Barbaresca wines from the Piedmont region of Italy, and I have had their Barolo and this was a chance to try their Barbera and since they are situated in Alba, it was a natural choice. Barbera d’Alba is an important DOC for the Piedmont and the cellars of Pio Cesare have barrels of all their wines aging in walls that date back to the Roman days. While the DOC laws for this wine allow for some blending, this wine is pure Barbera and it was aged for twelve months in French Oak to tame the wine some. There was an immense amount of terroir or dirt as I call it that really added to the texture of the wine’s flavor. By the end of the meal, the wine was really opening up, as it was quite tight on the initial tasting and to be truthful, this wine was imbibed way too soon. I think that at least five years would have been the ideal time to uncork this wine, but alas, most restaurants that even carry better wines do not have that luxury of cellaring wines that long. I have to say that it sure beat any of the bar wines offered that evening.