My Michelin star adventure in Yorkshire took on a bright glow recently when a partner in crime and I drove up through the Howardian hills towards Helmsley where we enjoyed a long and relaxing lunch at the The Star Inn in Harome.
We both needed a dose of ‘be kind to yourself’ and Andrew Pern and his staff delivered the prescription.
The old thatched inn dates back to the fourteenth century and certainly looks the part, with its quaint village setting and vintage interior of low beams, wood panelling and rough plastered walls – in the restaurant there are both ‘old’ and ‘new’ dining rooms, as well as seating outside on the terrace and grass area, plus a huge dining table in the kitchen garden.
Chef and owner Andrew Pern roots his seasonally changing menus firmly in North Yorkshire where he grew up, from Scarborough-caught fish with marsh samphire and brown shrimps to estate game and Yorkshire-sourced lamb, pork and beef, all enhanced by homemade pesto, sauces and butters from their own herbs and locally grown veg.
It was delightful to sit in the garden and choose from the summer menu or the market menu, plus there was a choice of specials……so much decision making!
We ate in the new dining room, quite busy with diners, but the staff were friendly and attentive to our needs.
First to come to the table was a cloth cap of warm bread. We were not sure how we felt on this sunny day about this. What if the owner of the hat was a sufferer of a contagious scalp condition? What if…? So many perils involved! But the love of bread got the better of us and we tucked in. Warm potato and caraway seed bread, and a black pudding bread.
My starter, chosen from the specials board, was yellow fin tuna tartare with North Sea brown shrimps and sesame seed crackers, nasturtium salad and squid ink aioli.
Next came an amuse-bouche of beefy soup, topped with crispy lettuce and a white beetroot crouton.
My main course was a plate of Yorkshire reared suckling pig, sweet ‘n’ sour pineapple and Ximenez syrup. The waiter explained the different cuts of pork on my plate and poured over the syrup – Ximenez is a Spanish sweet sherry which complemented the pork really well.
And then we were presented with a bowl of fresh and crunchy vegetables to go with our fine meal.
So many oohs and ahhs!!!
We passed on the cheese trolley but marvelled at the Mousey Thompson oak trolley complete with one of my favourite ‘mice’.
I spotted another original ‘mouse’ in the bar.
We just had enough room for a shared trio of homemade ices (sour cherry, apple crumble and elderflower) and a pot of China jasmine green leaf tea for me and a frothy coffee for my partner.
We were then thrilled to have Andrew give us a tour of the kitchens as we chatted with the head chef, and then we headed out for a tour of the gardens and bed and breakfast accommodation.
We were introduced to the UK’s first ‘Chef’s Table’ in a pub, a lovely cosy corner with private dining for eight right in the heart of the gastro action.
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 at the Star over 15 years.
After a tour of the garden Andrew took us across the road to his nine bedroomed hotel, Cross House Lodge. We didn’t see the rooms, but some have quirky features such as a bath at the end of the bed, one has a rope slung bed, another its own snooker table, and another its own piano.
We did go into raptures in the Wheelhouse with its purpose built octagonal table and spectacular beamed ceiling where breakfast is served, and the lounge where you could relax in front of a fire with a book in winter and help yourself to afternoon tea.
There is a sunny terrace where you can drink in the sunshine on a summers evening, with the hens for company.
This would be a lovely venue for a romantic encounter and a wedding, hints dropped!
So The Star Inn is now stuck as my top Michelin star in Yorkshire, thanks Andrew.