Since Mum moved back to Yorkshire from Cyprus, we’ve had great fun exploring new places in the area (places I would no doubt have visited as a child but don’t remember), but most importantly places that do very good food! I was back up North for Mother’s Day and I’d booked a table for the two of us for lunch at The Star Inn at Harome. We visited on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend so we could enjoy a full day and evening together rather than me having to head back to foggy London Town in the late afternoon.
The Michelin-starred ‘The Star Inn’ is a couple of miles outside the quaint market town of Helmsley, and has origins believed to date back to the 14th Century. It was certainly very unusual to see a thatched roof in this area! As the website describes, Owner/Executive Chef Andrew Pern’s ‘Modern Yorkshire’ style of cooking places great emphasis on regional and seasonal ingredients and is firmly rooted in North Yorkshire, as indeed is Andrew himself, having grown up on a farm in the Esk Valley near Whitby surrounded by game and with North Sea fish virtually on his doorstep.
As we were seated at a lovely table in a small room looking through a window into the kitchen (a true ‘Chef’s Table’ experience), we couldn’t wait to see what was in store for us.
We were presented with two menus – a set menu option for two or three courses, and the full a la carte menu. This mentioned a Spring lunch tasting menu, so of course I had to enquire! And when I saw it, I knew that’s what we would have to go for, to try a bit of everything that The Star Inn had to offer. It looked superb!
They also offered an ale pairing which I jumped at the chance to try. Aside from enjoying ales, these were all locally produced in Yorkshire, which really caught my eye as a chance to try something new.
So the big question as always – what did we have to eat?
First course was Lindisfarne Oyster on Ice with Pickled Ginger, Scallions and Asian Spices. This was paired with a shot of Guinness.
Oysters are one of my favourite foods. I know they’re not to everyone’s tastes but I love the flavour and texture of them – they’re a real taste of the sea, more so than any other sea food as far as my taste buds are concerned. I enjoy them simply prepared with a little squeeze of lemon, sometimes with a dash of Tabasco if I fancy a bit of a heat kick. I haven’t tried many prepared in other ways (there’s something for the ‘to do’ list) so it was exciting for me to try this dish. Firstly, it wasn’t easy to eat. Having a genuinely small mouth (actually confirmed by my dentist, although my Mum would like to disagree considering how much I talk!!!), eating oysters is always fun and games for me at the best of times. With this one I had to scoop everything together a little bit with a spoon and then eat everything together. Again, not everyone likes to chew oysters so this dish might not be for everyone, but for me it was great! The Asian flavours were fresh and punchy, with that ever-present salty sea taste throughout. And having a (rather generous!) sip of Guinness alongside it was lovely, it paired perfectly with the creaminess of this particular type of oyster.
Second course was Forager’s Broth of Early Spring Wild Mushrooms, Hedgerow Roots and Pickled Beets, Celeriac and Harome Shot Wild Rabbit Taco. This was paired with Slow Rider brewed by Bad Co. in Dishforth.
This was one of my favourite dishes of the menu. I’m not normally very excited by the prospect of soups or broths, but this was something else! It had such a rich, meaty flavour, incredibly hearty and comforting. The rabbit taco was an excellent, tasty addition – it felt a bit like two dishes for the price of one in this course! The beer was really tasty too, I didn’t actually know about the brewery in Dishforth but will definitely be looking into more local producers now.
Third course was Tartare of Yellow Fin Tuna with Pickled Red Cabbage Puree, Village Hen’s Yolk, Fermented Black Garlic Cracker, Pommery Mustard and Wasabi Mayonnaise. This was paired with Love Over Gold, also from Bad Co.
This was my Mum’s favourite course of the day. It was a dish with complex flavours and textures, from the smooth raw fish to the crunchy garlic crisp, with the burst of the rich, runny egg yolk.
Fourth course was Grilled Black Pudding with Pan-fried Foie Gras, Salad of Pickering Watercress, Apple and Vanilla Chutney and Scrumpy Reduction. This was paired with Yorkshire Cider from Great Yorks Brewery.
This was my favourite dish without a doubt, and apparently it’s the restaurant’s staple dish which they’ve been cooking for many years. Mum couldn’t eat much of her foie gras as it was a bit too rich for her. She asked if I could eat it but I was too full, and the vision of that plate going back to the kitchen has haunted me ever since, damn it! I’m not a big cider lover but it worked so perfectly with this dish. Pure heaven!
For fifth course we had a choice of Pan-roasted Skrei Cod with Mussel-braised January King Cabbage, Lincolnshire Smoked Eel, Fresh Horseradish and Lindisfarne Oyster Veloute. Or, Saddle of Harome Village Shot Roe Deer, ‘cooked over charcoal’, with Smoked Sweet Potato Molasses ‘Brac’, Coffee Bean Carrots and Game Tea. We both decided to go for the latter. This was paired with Yorkshire Blackout from Great Yorks Brewery.
Everything was beautiful – the venison was perfectly cooked and melted in your mouth and the molasses was an unusual but tasty accompaniment. I wasn’t too sure about the ale pairing in this case – for me, the ale was a bit too ‘chocolatey’ and rich. I enjoyed the ale itself, but it felt like a bit too much with the food, especially given the very generous serving measure!
Sixth course gave us another choice. Mum went for the Morello Cherry Bakewell Tart with Sheep’s Milk Ice Cream, Toasted Marzipan, Sour Cherries and Pistachio, which she thoroughly enjoyed – so many flavours and another big portion!
I chose the Savoury Brillat-Savarin ‘Trifle’, with Artichoke Bark, Toasted Granola, Vintage Port, Juniper Jelly and Crassane Pear. This was paired with Wild Gravity IPA from Bad Co.
This was quite an unusual dish – I wasn’t sure what to expect but the way it was presented was really fun and exciting. The best way I can describe it, is that it was like eating cheese and biscuits but with the textures of a dessert. Really inventive!
It was such a lovely day that we were able to take our coffee and petit fours out into the immaculately kept garden.
Every time I try a new tasting menu I seem to say on here that it was the best I’d had in a while, but in this case it really was! All tasting menus are different but what I liked about this was that it was relatively simple and wasn’t trying to be too clever, but had such incredible flavours to the dishes (and each dish was a very generous serving!) with local ingredients. The ale pairing was a really nice touch which complemented the food perfectly and I really felt like I was getting a proper taste of Yorkshire across the board. I honestly can’t stop thinking about the foie gras dish…
The Star Inn has 9 unique rooms if you’d like to make a holiday out of your visit, just opposite the restaurant, at ‘Cross House Lodge’. All of the rooms have been fashioned from former farm buildings and they look fabulous! It’s just the kind of place Tim and I would love to escape to from London for a night, if only it was closer to us.
A big thank you to all of the team at The Star Inn for such a lovely lunch and for making my Mum very happy indeed this Mother’s Day!