The Old Courthouse (Newport, NH)

A few years ago, the old courthouse in Newport, NH was renovated and converted into a restaurant, called, simply, The Old Courthouse. It’s been a welcome addition to the area’s fairly meager “fine dining” scene, with a rather nice dinner menu, as well as one of the area’s better Sunday Brunches. However, what has often drawn me to the Old Courthouse is that they often have some pretty good theme dinners. In this case, they recently were celebrating Polish-American Heritage Month with a series of Polish dinners featuring Polish food as well as costumed hosts and hostesses from St. Joseph’s Church in nearby Claremont (which used to have a substantial Polish population back in the 1920s). Seeing that Carol is of Polish descent, and I’m of Lithuanian descent, and the area don’t really have a lot of Eastern European dining options, we decided to check it out.

The special menu for the Polish-American heritage dinner wasn’t just a few entrees, they had a complete Polish dinner menu, with starters, salads, main courses, and desserts. Looking over the menu, we were rather glad to see both the mainstays of Polish-American dining (the obligatory kielbasa) as well as several less-known but classic Polish dishes such as Bigos (rouge stew) and Chicken Polanaise.

While several items tempted me, I went for two Polish classics: a starter of mushroom pancakes, and the Polish platter. The pancakes were nicely done, with a rich mushroom flavor, a good crisp sear on the pancake, and served up with a good dill sauce.

The Polish platter was a thorough feast of Polish food: several large segments of rich kielbasa (not sure where from, but I suspect the local North Country Smokehouse, since this was slightly coarser-ground kielbasa than your average fare), two golompkie (cabbage rolls), a nice mound of red cabbage kapusta, some sauerkraut, and a good pile of potatoes. Oh, and a healthy dollop of powerful Polish mustard. This was a thoroughly enjoyable plate of food, enough that I wasn’t hungry until dinnertime the next day.

Carol, meanwhile, opted to get the smaller kielbasa portion for a starter, followed by the bigos. Bigos is a traditional Polish hunter’s stew, a rich mixture of beef, cabbage, and sauerkraut. This was a pleasantly hearty, and surprisingly herbish stew that I’m going to have to try to recreate at home. In any case, Carol rather enjoyed it.

The Polish-American dinners also featured some entertainment. When we arrived, Father George Majka from St Joseph’s Parish was visiting all the diners and talking about the area’s Polish heritage, and then later in the evening he (and pianist Tristan Smith) provided entertainment in the form of traditional Polish songs. This gave a rather festive feel to go along with the pleasant Polish food.

The Old Courthouse has been a mainstay for us for years, and I’m pleased that every one of their special dinners we’ve been to has been pleasant as well. I highly recommend them as one of the area’s best fine dining options.

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