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Restaurant review: The Star Inn, North Yorkshire

The Star Inn
Near Helmsley, North Yorkshire, YO62 5JE
Cuisine: British
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It's spring and wild garlic has been showing in Yorkshire for a couple of weeks. It is a joy to see it used here at the Star, a low slung, thatched, ancient village pub in Harome, North Yorkshire to flavour freshly made warm bread which I used to dip into my starter. Tiny discs of molten Lowna Dairy goat's cheese, a mild flavoured cheese from the award winning dairy set in the rolling hills of East Yorkshire. This was served with Carpaccio of local Dexter beef cut, fine as film, and tasting as delicate and sweet as these small grass fed cattle can. A relish of golden beetroot and grated horseradish marries these superb ingredients together with a delightful classic touch. Another reminder of the season comes embodied in shavings of black winter truffle.
All the dishes on the dazzling menu at the Star are meticulously configured from the best, local, seasonal, and foraged ingredients its chef patron Andrew Pern can find.
Fresh from Whitby sweet, clean crabmeat is dressed in delicate green herb mayonnaise and mixed with a flash of green, peppery watercress harvested at Pickering, a few miles to the east. Neat dots of bloody Mary vinaigrette and a crisp parmesan and herb wafer propped askance the salad add sophistication to this pretty, delicate starter.
The Star is renowned for serving game and Pern is an expert at cooking it. His dish of 'Loose Birds, Harome reared duck' is an education. Morsels of pink breast and liver were flash fried whilst the duck's hardworking muscular legs were cooked long and slow with fragrant herbs and served with a delicately poached duck egg. A tart, but sweet, sauce of elderberries and orange finishes the dish and makes it a great option for lovers of wild food.
Tiny shrimps surrounded my dish of turbot served on young tendrils of marsh samphire cooked in a breath of steam. These locally caught chewy, sweet shrimps are delightful and will make me think twice before overlooking them in favour of flashy large prawns from South East Asia and South America.
Fine meals cannot exist without a mix of vegetables to mop up sauces and complement the flavour and texture of meat, fish and fowl. Tender sprouting broccoli, just in season, were served with leeks in one miniature copper pan. Perfectly cooked nutty flavoured, waxy Ratte potatoes baked in their
gorgeous textured skins were served in another.
Eating such a variety of food challenges the choice of wine. We opted for single glasses to match the dishes we ate. A Rioja Reserva with an oaky vanilla tang for the meat, a classic aromatic soft berry flavoured Fleurie for the crab, a grassy and sauvignon blanc for the fish.
Pudding was harvested from the early stirrings of the kitchen garden situated at the back of the pub. Forced rhubarb and ginger filled a sweet tart and was served with homemade ice-cream. A sweet Elysium Muscat made from deep black skinned grapes and with a rose perfumed aroma matched a delicately indulgent chocolate pudding beautifully.
The kitchen garden is tended by the expert hands of Amy Lax who also looks after the new kitchen garden at RHS, Harlow Carr, Harrogate. A fine collection of espalier and heritage English apple trees and rhubarb grow here and a menagerie of quirky, willow sculptures made by Emma Stothard of Whitby bring character to the beautiful kitchen garden. They include a group of figures dancing around a maypole, a charming life sized scarecrow complete with a bird on his shoulder and a determined looking goat.
Andrew Pern is used to looking after people and it shows. When his mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis while he was still a boy he took over the role of family cook on the farm where he was brought up. His sensitivity is evident in the care he takes with dishes he has developed t the Star over 15 years.
Service was attentive but not intrusive. Bright, well informed staff talked about the dishes on the menu with enthusiasm and knowledge which helped us to make our choices. We ate in the older of two restaurants which is comfortable, stylish and intimate.
Why not stay the night? Pern has an eight room boutique hotel - Cross House Lodge; the Pheasant Hotel and a number of traditional cottages available for rent. There are also a number of very good B&Bs in the area.
Harome is an ideal location for walking and sightseeing. We walked to Rievaulx Abbey which lies along the Cleveland Way, which starts two miles away at the beautiful village of Helmsley, and skirts the upland ridge on the edge of the North York Moors National Park before reaching the coast to end at Filey.
But if you really like the food at the Star you can always sign up for a cookery courses and learn how to cook one of the Star’s signature dishes, more about kitchen garden cookery or to enthuse your kids - the 'Starlet Stew' Cookery Course for 6 to 10 year olds.
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11 April 2011
By: Joan Ransley
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