Sunday, October 14, 2012

Courthouse Grill

250 1st. Street
Hillsboro, Mo.


The Place:
It had been a few weeks since our first visit to this new place, time to see if they’d settled in. We had a few minor issues then, the free-range seating, the fatty steaks, the ignored customers.  These are all things that are easily fixable.
It was still neat and attractive, the walls uncluttered though still a terrible shade of baby-sh&#! green. 
There were not as many patrons this time, which didn’t surprise me. On our last visit there was a truck/tractor event at the fairgrounds, this time, not. The average age of the diners in attendance skewed toward advanced middle age to full blown senior citizens. Most were in groups of four or more.
We stepped in and stood. I wanted to see what happened next. Last time someone just called out for us to sit anywhere. This time, not. One young lady grabbed some menus and pointed to a table near the door, pretty much where we were standing.  I think it was the same table as last time.
At the other end of the room, above and to the left of the bar, a single TV was on, tuned to GAC. That stands for ‘Great American Country’. ‘GAC’ is also the exact sound I repeatedly make when I have to watch it. If there’s anything worse in my mind than contemporary country music it’s contemporary country music videos. And the only thing worse than those in the music industry is NON-contemporary country music.  Don’t take me wrong though, I have nothing against people who like country music, unless I have to be around them for more than a few minutes. It’s simply a matter of taste. I have some, people who listen to that twangy noise do not.
Fortunately the volume was set pretty low, and if I hummed quietly to myself I could drown out the heart-cheatin’ hard-drinkin’ honky-tonkin’ ballads and anthems.
By taking off my glasses the videos might as well have been infomercials.
Our waitress introduced herself and we were ready to rock and roll.
The Food:
Hot Wings
The menu was pleasantly uncomplicated. Sandwiches, steaks, seafood/pasta and salads. All the items were defined simply,  without unnecessary flourish. No snooty ‘pungent Corinthian balsamic oils’ here.  Salads contain lettuce, not lacy, petit, exotic greens. Adam and his mother were debating appetizers. I rarely get involved in those discussions. They settled on boneless hot wings.
Our drink order was taken, Tea, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi. As the drinks were delivered in licensed St. Louis Rams glasses, Becky took the appetizer order. I spent the intervening time not watching GAC. This is harder than it sounds. I changed my mind a few times as I looked through the menu. The Courthouse Grill names many of their sandwiches kitschy court-themed names like ‘The Defender’, ‘The Prosecutor’ and ‘The Judge.’ I initially wanted a BLT. However, they call their BLT  a BLT, no originality. So I settled on The Defender.
The Defender is a 6 oz. ribeye sandwich served on buttered Texas toast. I sided it with the shoestring fries, which is what you order if you want regular fries. Adam asked for the Frisco burger, which I’d considered until I saw that it had two big patties. That seemed a bit much to me. He also ordered the fries.
Angel went off the reservation. She blamed the spicy hot wings and settled on a ‘Courthouse’ salad. She asked for it to be topped with 4 oz. flat iron steak. Becky happily took the order and scurried off.
The 'salad'
The wings were indeed hot. Both Adam and Angel commented on the heat, they didn’t need to. The red faces and sniffling was all I needed to know that I’d made the right choice in not having any. I’ve yet to find a hot wing I like, anywhere.
The wait was not long, about right, Angel and Adam couldn’t finish the wings. Becky refilled drinks in a timely manner. GAC was still on TV. Yet another hunky cowboy was kicking up some dust with his rugged pickup truck as the skinny, bosomy blonde in painted on Daisy Dukes shakes her head in shame at his misbehavin’ ways.
The food arrived. The first thing we noticed was the enormity of Angel’s salad. It was enormous. Piled high and deep, there was at least a half pound of shredded bacon piled up on one side. There’s no way any reasonable nutrition law would allow this beast to be considered a salad. Surely there are standards for that sort of thing.
Frisco Burger
The sandwiches were simply gorgeous. Adam plucked the offending onions off of his, I piled mine high. I added a touch of A1 sauce to mine, Adam added a little ketchup to his. Angel slathered about a cup and a half of sickly sweet French dressing on her trough of food.
I rolled back the bun on my ribeye sandwich and checked for excess fat. It wasn’t as bad as Adam had the last time we were here, but it was still prominent. At least the steak was tender. The crispy Texas toast was perfect for it. The combination of buttered toast and fatty grilled steak had me harking back to my days on the cattle drives, just me and my horse and  Cookie, with his clattering chuck wagon. Yahoo!  (I don’t hark back often, but when I do it’s usually to a fictional event.)
The Defender
About halfway through his large burger, Adam gave up. Too much meat. Not just in size, the two patties was exactly the reason I didn’t order it myself. There was too much meat for the seasoning. Adam said that after a while it was pretty tasteless.  Ground beef really doesn’t have a strong flavor, and if too lightly seasoned, after a while it simply becomes a chewing exercise. My ribeye was somewhat of a physical workout as well, it required a little more pull and chew than I am accustomed to. It wasn’t bad, just a lot of work. Late into the feast someone switched the TV from GAC (Gack!) to the Mizzou/Alabama football game. This was an improvement, though only in the way that an hour in line at the DMV is an improvement over an hour and a half. I’m not a big football fan and my own alma mater doesn’t even have a football team… I don’t think, I’ll have to check on that.*
The County Courthouse in Hillsboro.
That sign is actually for a law firm, but the
way this picture was framed it looks like it's
for the court, where serious felony walk-ins
are welcome.
The 'Boyer for Sheriff' sign is what I was actually
Trying to capture. I'm a big fan of the Sheriff.

It may sound like we didn’t enjoy it, but mostly we did. The Courthouse Grill is a great addition to the community. They’ve made some progress and established a customer base and the food is pretty good. Becky was a delight, she refilled us and checked on us frequently, always smiling, very polite. The service, specifically hers in this case, certainly won some points.
The tab came in at $44.62, tax included. Not real bad, but enough that I’d wished the food was just a smidgen better. This place is certainly of better quality and atmosphere than a fast food joint. The fact that it is locally owned is great, and like I said, the service was exceptional. I have a feeling that this place will do quite well.

The Courthouse Grill on Urbanspoon

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