Court House Bistro – New Restaurant in DorchesterWednesday, August 12th, 2020
The Court House Bistro has recently opened in Dorchester’s Antelope Walk. This exciting new addition to the town combines the talents of experienced chef Matthew Jefferies with the historic Oak Room setting.
We caught up with award-winning chef and owner of the business Matthew Jefferies for a few questions.
What is the history behind you and your business?
I am originally from Northern Island and have been been cooking for many years. I started making cakes with my grandma and was introduced to cooking as a whole. Over the years, I started cooking at school and my passion increased. I always wanted to push myself using fresh ingredients and new techniques. My passion for cooking increased with the desire to collect cook books from around the world and try new dishes.
I have worked with many top name chefs (including Michel Roux Jr and Gordon Ramsey) in and out of the UK and London. My passion for cooking brought me to Dorset, which is my favourite place in the world! I purchased a pub and started cooking the food I finally wanted too. Earlier this year, I purchased The Oak Room now The Court House – a period property with clad walls and the original location for Judge Jefferys‘ Court House. The history of the building mixed with the great food myself and my team produce here is a real treat and one we feel the people of Dorchester should come and experience.
What made you choose the Court House in Dorchester as a place to open the restaurant?
I first came across the premises while exploring the area long before I wanted to buy a restaurant here. After looking inside the building and hearing the history it didn’t take me long to see the potential. After a long process of completing the purchasing process of the building – COVID hit. We decided to take the time to refit the restaurant. We replaced the flooring and did some sanding work, but kept the character of the building. The kitchens were subject to a vast amount of work so that we could offer the quality food that we are today. Dorchester is a ‘foodie’ area and always attracts people to dine here. Restaurants in Dorchester offer a high reputation of great food and we are looking forward to becoming part of that.
How are you finding Dorchester as a place to trade since you opened?
We opened our doors during a very difficult time. We are having to get the name out there as a new restaurant during a time when its hard running any business. The lockdown was a tough time for everyone, but having a new business it was made even worse. Once we were allowed to open, we have been trying so hard to get the name out there. The government grants didn’t apply to us as we didn’t have the building in time so this has made it even more challenging. However, we are loving being part of the Dorchester scene and being on antelope walk even more so. It’s a beautiful area with welcoming people and we look forward to many years trading here.
Can you describe Court House Bistro in 3 words?
Passionate, Welcoming, Elegant.
What makes Court House Bistro different from other restaurants in Dorchester?
The experience of our kitchen and front of house bringing refined cooking to the masses. We offer locally sourced cooked fresh food in a building filled with history linked to Dorchester, this is something that no other restaurant can claim. We change our evening menu weekly so this keeps everything fresh and allows us to experiment and bring our diners something different every time they visit.
What are the most popular items on your menu?
To be honest all of our menus – Brunch, Lunch and Evenings all sell really well. Changing the menu allows us to replace slow sellers so this keeps everything fresh. Along with our drinks and cocktail menu we have a good mix of vegetarian and meat dishes.
Have you got any existing plans for the business in the future?
We are planning on extending the evening menu so we can offer it three days a week, extending to Thursday evenings as well as our current Friday & Saturday. We are also looking to offer theme nights and a murder mystery dinner once a month, everything is up in the air at the moment with everything going on so for the time being we are just looking to get people back into the restaurants.