The Star Inn is in the small and picturesque village of Harome, near Helmsley on the outskirts of the North Yorkshire Moors. As its name suggests it’s a traditional Inn, with a few boutique rooms, and a multi-award winning restaurant that serves fine contemporary food and presents the best in Yorkshire hospitality.
We first discovered the Star Inn a few years ago when we enjoyed a cosy winter family lunch here to celebrate my father-in-law’s 70th birthday and then experienced a completely different offering when one of our best mates had their fantastic wedding here. We were more than impressed on both occasions and as my husband has a love affair with this beautiful part of the world it seemed like the perfect choice for a surprise romantic night away.
Read on to discover if the Star Inn offers a Star experience….
Patron and Chef, Andrew Pern is the man leading the team at the Star Inn. After a hugely successful career, Andrew came back to his roots in Yorkshire to bring his exquisite culinary talents to the tables at the Star Inn.
But it’s not just the quality, innovation and presentation of the dishes that set this place a cut above the rest, it really is the genuine down-to-earth warmth and hospitality shown by Andrew and his team. This was perfectly demonstrated when we arrived to check-in and when I asked the receptionist if she had any interesting snippets about the Star Inn and Cross House Lodge she called upon Andrew who very kindly came away from the kitchen to chat with me and tell his Star story.
I discovered that Andrew has a long-standing history with the Star, his mum and dad got engaged there and when he was a boy, it was a family favourite for Sunday lunches and special occasions. Even back then it was known as the ‘posh pub’ – ahead of its time serving innovate trend-setting dishes, however when the drink driving laws came into place the business struggled to survive and sadly closed its doors.
When Andrew was young his mum suffered from MS and with the rest of his family out working their farm, he needed to stay indoors to look after his mum and do the cooking for this hungry family of farmers. It was then that his love for cooking blossomed and after almost winning the Roux Scholarship at a very young age his career as a Chef really took off.
Many years later, as Andrew was almost about to pack his bags and head to California to take on the position as Head Chef in a high-profile restaurant, the ‘for sale’ sign at the Star caught more than his attention; it captured his heart, his passion and his every waking hour!
With a superb business plan and grand vision, but not quite the funds to match, Andrew put forward his case and (thankfully) the vendor saw an opportunity not to be missed and offered a loan to Andrew to purchase the Star Inn. That was 25 years ago and the rest, as they say, is history. Although we have a strong feeling that that there will be many more exciting additions to add to this timeline.
The Set Up
The team at the Star Inn describe the establishment as ‘…. essentially a rustic gourmet bolt-hole’ which sums up the offering perfectly. Cross House Lodge is home to the individually styled thirteen guest rooms, each with their own character yet all maintaining a country feel with a modern twist. For example, our room has its own private entrance, with pretty wisteria adding a whimsical feel to the country cottage theme. Another room has a ‘floating’ bed as its feature point, another room a piano, to name a few.
The recent extension of the Barn Annexe houses the four new Barn Rooms, which have a slightly more contemporary feel than those in the lodge, and are perfect for a group who would like an element of independence and privacy.
A well-maintained garden area enclosed by Cross House Lodge and the Barn Annexe is perfectly situated to capture the sun and enjoy a spot for al-fresco drinks on a sunny day or a balmy evening.
The public spaces in Cross House Lodge ooze country charm and a rustic vibe. Think wooden beams, log fires, traditional stone-work, stuffed animals and country memorabilia (most of which was salvaged from Patron, Andrew’s friend’s dad’s garage!) adorning the walls. The clever use of natural materials, such as the fallen tree staircases, create a real talking point.
There is great emphasis on community and supporting local here, and not just with the food produce, but with relationships with many local craftsman/women and the team comprises of young and local talent that is nurtured and progresses through the ranks internally. A recipe (pardon the pun!) that is clearly working well.
There is plenty of space to relax, enjoy a drink and the open kitchen area is a real feature. Breakfast is served from the open kitchen with guests seated in the dining area that boasts at an impressive oak table – reminiscent of a medieval banquet.
Directly across from Cross House Lodge, is the multi-award winning restaurant and bar. The original thatched roof still proudly crowns the 14th century building where patrons can enjoy a drink in the low-ceiling bar or the recently extended and superbly designed garden and court-yard space. Dinners have the option to be seated in the Old Dining Room, the more recent and modern, New Dining Room or the Private Dining Space is perfect for intimate parties.
The Star Inn is a highly-acclaimed Michelin star restaurant with many more Top UK Gastropub awards to its name, however, as Andrew (Pern) said to us, he wants his guests to feel as comfortable ordering a pint and a ham sandwich as they do experiencing the full-blown fine dining tasting menus – and both to be equally as enjoyable. And this vibe is highly evident. It’s Yorkshire hospitality at its best!
Daily specials, A la Carte, Tasting Menus and Bar snacks are all served here and are influenced by the seasons and local produce…the kitchen garden is at the back of the restaurant and we even spotted one of the kitchen team out foraging as we arrived.
We opted for the Spring A la Carte menu and with such a superb choice of fish, meat and veggie dishes it took a while to decide what to have.
Bread. This was not just any bread it was a bakery delight – a real sight to behold. Slices of freshly baked potato and caraway malted sourdough and black pudding and apple rolls with whipped fennel butter set the bar high for the rest of the dining experience. If this was all I’d had I’d have left a happy little lady!
Starters. Simon chose the ‘Star Inn Signature Dish Established in 1996’ which is:
Grilled Black Pudding and Pan-fried Foie Gras with Pickering Watercress, Apple and Vanilla Chutney, Scrumpy Reduction. It is easy to see why this dish has enjoyed such long-term success, it was delicious.
I opted for one of the Specials: Marinated North Sea Octopus Carpaccio with Soft Boiled Village Quail’s Egg, Deep Fried Anchovy, Fermented Black Garlic, Artichoke Ice Cream. The flavours were so delicate and the textures complimented each other perfectly.
A Little Extra. With compliments of the Chef, we were also served Scrambled Village Hen’s Egg, Herring Caviar and Chives washed down with a shot of Edwards 1902 Yorks Wolds Vodka. The egg was served in the egg shell covered with a bell-jar. I would never have chosen this but surprisingly it transpired to be one of my favourite dishes.
Another surprise dish, compliments of the Chef, was the Shorthorn Beef Tea – Pickled Ox Tongue, Beer Vinegar Jellies, Garden Grelots and Crispy Brassicas, Sticky Oxtail and Bone Marrow ‘Lardy Cake’. Much to the disgust of my husband, I have a real penchant for bone marrow which goes back to my youth, so these lardy cakes could easily become a staple in my diet…. I truly loved them!
Main Courses. This was a really tricky decision for me, with Wild Turbot, North Sea Monkfish and Squab Pigeon all equally tempting. However, I just couldn’t look past Saddle of Local Shot Fallow Deer cooked over coals, Local Foraged Fungus, Its own Pate, Juniper Crust, Cognac, Sauce Rouennaise.
Simon couldn’t resist the Pan-fried Belted Galloway 10oz Sirloin Steak with Deep-fried Chunky Chips and Béarnaise Sauce.
We both immensely enjoyed the main dishes, the combination of flavours, the presentation, quality and quantity were all absolutely spot on.
Desserts. Wow, wow, wow! All too good to be true. Another blast from the past, I chose the ‘Marathon’….72% Weiss Bitter Chocolate with Peanut, Nougat and Salted Caramel, Crème Fraiche Sorbet. Anything that has a caramel / nut combo is simply divine and this dessert didn’t disappoint.
Although after the feast I’d just enjoyed I perhaps should have opted for a slightly lighter fruity alternative such as the Baked Yorkshire Rhubarb Soufflé with Hot Spiced Syrup and Ginger Parkin Ice Cream. Luckily this was Simon’s choice so I had a cheeky little taste of that too and it was scrumptious. Light, moist with distinct flavours of the rhubarb and ginger dancing on the palette.
Drinks. Diners can opt for wine pairing with each of their courses and best matches are suggested on the menu and the service team, we only wanted a glass or two so the knowledgeable service team were confidently able to make some good recommendations.
Breakfast. After such a feast the night before, we delayed breakfast for as long as we could. Breakfast orders are placed in advance and a seating time agreed. It wasn’t quite warm enough to enjoy breakfast out in the Courtyard, so we took our place at the huge banquet table in the dining room at Cross House Lodge – seated an appropriate distance from other guests (CoVid compliant and far enough to not feel like you are eaves dropping!).
There was a great choice of cold dishes, including home-made pastries, a huge fruit salad and the crunchiest munchiest, stickiest home-made granola. My perfect idea of a hotel breakfast. Cheese and cured meats were also on offer as part of the cold selection. Simon enjoyed the cold offering followed by a full-EB, with the richest of egg yolks I’ve seen for a long time.
Although, orders were placed in advance it was clear that the hot breakfasts were cooked to order and once guests had finished eating the team were extremely forthcoming and obliging should an extra helping or two be requested.
Final Thoughts. If you want beautiful outdoor scenery, plenty of fresh air, fine food, time to relax and a very warm welcome we couldn’t recommend this more. An absolute must for all the foodies out there!