A remote location in idyllic country village, Thatched roof, crackling log fires and so many award they have to hang them in the bathrooms...Welcome to The Star Inn, Harome.
The Star Inn, is nestled a short six minutes drive from the very English village of Helmsley and our favourite route takes us through the gorgeous Castle Howard estate. This unassuming village "pub" harbours a secret, it is one of (if not the) finest places to dine in the County. While the exterior exudes Shakespearean charm the interior is bedecked with all manner of wall hangings, mostly awards, trophies and certificates commending their culinary accomplishments. The Star Inn is, after all, a Michelin Star restaurant and is recognised as one of the top gastro-pubs in the country.
How Does It Compare...
The food is an immense draw, hence why it was well worth driving an hour for lunch. This is not ye olde pub fayre but true, unadulterated fine dining. Regular readers of our "le dîner secret" will have seen my review of "The Man Behind The Curtain", the Leeds-based restaurant run by Michael O’Hare, which we damningly reviewed as an attempt at modern art, pretentious and a belated homage to Heston Blumenthal. The Star Inn, however, is at the polar opposite to that kind of experimental style of dining, firmly entrenching itself in classic dining, utilising a tried and tested palate of time honoured dishes involving pork, village shot mallard, chunky chips, foie gras and black pudding, buttered vegetables and pea and ham soup. Don't make the mistake of thinking this is standard pub grub, dishes are innovative but recognisable. Paying true respect to the local ingredients and recipes. You are wowed by flavour, quality and innovation and dishes don't simply rely on shock-value presentation.
As you might have guessed its foundations are in "classics" but its food has been elevated to new levels. The Star Inn is still firmly a village pub, having a Pub Is The Hub award firmly placed over one of the fireplaces. Unlike places such as The Black Swan at Oldstead, you can simply pop in for a pint and a sandwich making it a far more welcoming venue than any Michelin Starred place I have ever visited.
I have several emotions when I browse a menu, some are exciting others lack-luster and some, like at The Star Inn, are undersold. Menu items can read as though they are very simple, then there is the excite when the actual dish arrives.
One our many visits we have had the privilege of some truly magnificent dishes.
A true star is the Rockpool starter, a truly delicious expression of coastal fare. Flavoursome, fresh and presented in a fun way with a divine bisque. Local game, which varies seasonally, is also a feature worthy of note. We have been treated to fresh shot grouse and hare on our visits and they have never disappointed.
If there is one thing, that makes the Star Inn so special for me, it is there soufflé. There is usually one on the dessert menu often following seasonal flavours. Occasionally there may be a starter soufflé of cheese, but it is the sweet soufflés that are a stellar fixture on the menu. On our first visit we had the divine raspberry soufflé with the finest sorbet I have ever sampled and closely followed on a recent visit by a damson and dark chocolate soufflé. Even though I had reservations about the paring of flavours on the second occasion, I actually preferred the damson soufflé, it was rich but not overly sweet and perfectly risen. A true sign of some classic training in the kitchen.
The Star Inn doesn't need any praising words from me, when they have so many awards that they have to hang them in the bathrooms, you know they will have no worries about a humble article like mine. This piece is written more as a thank you, your work, location, staff and soufflés are a credit to you and a source of joy and happy memories for me.