Ah, The Court of Requests in Oldbury... Nope, you're not reading things, The Court of Requests is no longer a legal court, but a pub. Wetherspoons bought the building in 2012 and transformed the self-explanatory named venue. Not that it looks like a typical Wetherspoons drinking hole. The refurbished building walks the line between 'gastro' and 'pub' and has a can't-put-your-finger-on-it appeal that has turned it into a local favourite.
As soon as you walk in you're enveloped by a space that is both comforting and eerily familiar. The tiled floor, bandit, and locals munching their pub grub makes for a recognisable British image, yet there's no stench of stale beer, or lairy drunks. The Court of Requests is a polished example of the modern day pub.
As you move from the bar to the dining areas the pub becomes less familiar and more like a grand estate – aged, sepia-filtered photos hang on the walls, and whilst they are clearly for decorative purposes, you still feel somewhat haunted. The tiles turn into plushy carpet, chairs are upholstered in regal colours and more luxurious fabrics welcome your custom.
On a recent, morning visit to the pub, with my family of fifteen, the staff were extremely accommodating – tables were arranged and we were served within ten minutes of placing our orders. Speaking of orders, the breakfast/brunch options were surprisingly large. Porridge, fruit and yogurt, full English breakfast, toast, bagels and children options were available.
Not only was there an extensive breakfast list, the food was surprisingly cheap. For three meals – two eggs Benedict, one order of pancakes and one vegetarian breakfast we paid £15.00. In Birmingham city centre that would have been the cost per-person.
What matters most when you're in a large group, especially your nearest and dearest, is how the customer service measures up. In terms of food and drinks everyone's plate was clean and we all ordered a further round of beverages. The staff were incredibly friendly, and offered alternatives when certain dishes were unavailable.
Littered with prison and court house terms as well as decorative influences, The Court of Requests is a cool and charming pub. Like any modern venue they have free wifi, and tables of various sizes make it the perfect place for single diners or large groups. Come with your laptop and enjoy a cool one in the bar, or sit in the diner-like area (replete with metal chairs and tables) with your mates and a few pork scratchings.
They're really attracting everyone and it's not hard to see why. If you're the health conscious one of the group, or have allergies, The Court of Requests provide leaflets that display the nutritional content of every meal they serve and whether it contains nuts, gluten, wheat, soya, or dairy. Now that's a pub first.
As summer begins its welcome ascent you can enjoy the sunshine in the North-facing beer garden, while you drink, too.
For a family-friendly venue that has excellent customer service, delicious food and a fresh approach to what a pub is in 2013, the jury isn't out over The Court of Requests. They've retained the essence of a pub – a warm, social atmosphere that is relaxed and welcoming, and have won the vote from my friends and family.