The Star Inn, Harome

Star Inn sign

After eating what was easily the best meal out in the last 12 months, I’ve just found my new favourite restaurant, The Star Inn in Harome, North Yorkshire.

The restaurant
Star Inn, Harome

After a warm welcome, we started off with a drink in the warm oak-beamed, thatched bar at one end of the building, trying to decide over the range of choices in the Spring Menu and on the specials listed on the blackboard. We then moved to a large table in the more contemporary silver, grey and red dining room.

Not unusually, we both decided to have the same starter and main course, and shared the cheese and the two puddings.

A Taste of Yorkshire – Delicacies of land and sea. Duncombe Park roe deer, air dried York ham, Yorkshire pudding, smoked trout, lobster bisque.

Steamed Suet Pudding of “Shaw Moor” shot hare with honeyed parsnip puree, braised red wine salsify, fois gras fritter and jugged hare sauce.

Cheese course – 4 British cheeses

Lemon Yorkshire crowdie cheesecake, lemon curd, lemon sorbet, pink grapefruit.

Caramelised rice pudding with sherried raisins

The chef, Andrew Pern (who we could see through the swing doors into the kitchen) is passionate about locally sourced and seasonal food. The ingredients were superb and were simply treated. For example, the Taste of Yorkshire starter simply presented and with no fancy treatment, it let the ingredients speak for themselves. The suet pudding of hare was straightforward but was packed full of flavour. The desserts were fantastic, and generously portioned.

The service was excellent – the waiting staff were friendly and relaxed and able to tell us quite a lot about the food, and were both helpful and unobtrusive.

The accommodation
The Lodge, Harome
Our meal was part of our 2-night short break in Yorkshire. We stayed at The Lodge, one of the Black Eagle Cottages rented out by The Star. This thatched cottage was cosy with warm log fires in both the kitchen and bedroom, and The Star provided all the ingredients needed for a great breakfast – bacon, sausages, black pudding, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, bread, preserves, yoghurt, cereal. We got up late, ate what we want for breakfast, and we always had the cottage to come back to, to light the fire and slob with books.

The good, but not as good bit…
As the Star was closed on Sunday evening, we ate dinner in their sister restaurant in Harome, The Pheasant Hotel, located in old farm buildings right next to the village duck pond.

The food was good, but wasn’t nearly as good as The Star. The dishes were a bit fancier and appeared to be trying a bit too hard, and there were a few mistakes (the pea and ginger beer soup had the consistency of washing up water and didn’t pack that much of a flavour; the pigeon breast starter was cold). The Pheasant service was also significantly slower – we spent a lot of time wondering where our next course had gone – and consequently drank quite a lot more water. The food was OK but lacked the spark that The Star gave. And significantly was only £20 cheaper.

Until next time
We will certainly go back to The Star – it’s well worth the 4-hour drive from Glasgow. But until then, we’ve bought the book and look forward to trying a few of the Pern-goodies over the next few months, although I’m not sure the mock suede book cover will remain pristine in our kitchen!

Applecross Inn

View from Sand, Applecross
The second stop on our West Coast holiday was the Applecross Inn, accessed by driving over the 600 m ( Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle) from Lochcarron. The day we did it the cloud base was around 300 m, so we crossed the pass in a dense fog.

The Applecross Inn is a typical coastal pub and hotel, staffed by friendly and welcoming people. On the Wednesday night we were there the bar was buzzing with campers, walkers, locals and people staying in the inn. We had to wait around 10 mins for a table, but the owner got us a table by the windows looking out at the rain! The seafood is superb, landed locally and really fresh, treated well by the kitchen.

Local prawns (langoustines), garlic & herb butter, crusty bread, salad.

Crab salad (dressed crab, smoked salmon, marie rose sauce, langoustines), crusty bread, salad.
Local mackerel, new potatoes, salad.

Sticky toffee pudding, ice cream.
Apple & plum crumble, custard.

While we were there, we went for a refreshing afternoon cuppa in the Potting Shed Cafe in the walled garden of Applecross House. The garden has been restored over the past few years and it is amazing to see what they can grow in this sheltered spot.

Ardanaiseig

Ardanaeiseig Hotel

We stayed at Ardanaiseig for 2 nights at the start of our West Coast holiday, and arrived on a beautiful late afternoon after having walked up The Cobbler.

From the outside the hotel is a somewhat shabby Scots baronial house built in local granite. Inside, it feels like a highland country house. Our room was spacious and comfortable with antique furniture, and a great view over Loch Awe to the Argyll hills.

View across Loch Awe from Ardanaieseig Hotel

We had dinner both nights. Each night had a fixed menu, which meant that the kitchen could concentrate on putting out high quality food. The highlight for me was the dessert on Monday – coffee, doughnuts and iced double cream – this was a coffee creme brulee topped with cappuccino foam, with a solid doughnut and double cream ice cream. And it didn’t skimp on the portions either.

Monday

Amuse bouche: Crab spring roll
Butternut squash veloute with pancakes
John Dory with artichoke
Best end of lamb, aubergine puree, garlic crisps, garlic foam, courgettes and white beans
Pre-dessert: passion fruit minestrone
Coffee, doughnuts and iced double cream
Coffee & confectionery

Tuesday

Amuse bouche: Ballantine of quail with red onion and black pudding
Veloute of Jerusalem artichoke with truffle shavings
Ravioli of goats cheese with red pepper coulis
Sea bass, potato scales, mussels in saffron sauce
Pre-dessert: stawberry jelly
Chocolate fondant, white pepper ice cream, raspberries
Coffee & confectionery.

And I must also mention breakfast!

Fresh fruit, nuts, dried fruit, cereals
Croissants, pains au chocolat, toast
Full Scottish – beef sausage, bacon, black pudding, tomato, mushroom, potato scone, poached egg
Smoked salmon and scrambled egg

Ardanaiseig does some things really well – in particular the warmth of the hotel is matched by the warmth and friendliness of the staff (many of whom seem to be Aussies on a RTW trip). The rooms are comfortable and spacious, if a little quirky, and the food is intelligent and well presented.

The hotel could be even better – the dining room would benefit from someone supervising and mentoring the front of house staff, the food could make more use of seasonal ingredients (butternut squash in June?), and they could plant up the beautiful walled garden with veg to provide that really local flavour to the kitchen.

Tom’s Kitchen, Chelsea

Tom’s Kitchen was fully booked last night, but a little-known secret is that there the bar stools set around two sides of the room are all reservation-free. Not bad for a Saturday evening!

We’ve been to Tom’s Kitchen for breakfast before, but never been for dinner. Last night the dinner was excellent, the lamb was falling-apart tender and incredibly tasty; the chocolate pot dessert was utterly moreish. We’ll definitely be back!

7-hour cooked shoulder of lamb, onions and balsamic vinegar

treacle tart with clotted cream
milk chocolate pot, hazelnut ice cream and gingerbread madeleines.

P.S. Ruth, not a great veggie choice here, have you ever tried Leon?

Hibiscus

The second visit to Hibiscus within 6 months! But oh so good!

The best bit this time was the surprise between the starter and the main course. One of Claude Bosi’s signature dishes is his foie gras ice cream with brioche and balsamic emulsion. J was disappointed that this was not on the starter menu, but it unexpectedly turned up between the starter and the main course, definitely making J’s evening!

In addition to the superb food, we had the usual excellent but unobtrusive service. A very relaxing and enjoyable evening.

Amuse bouche: cucumber foam, cucumber juice, pineapple, olive oil & black pepper

Mackerel – tartare of mackerel, strawberry and celery salad
Spring onion – ravioli of spring onion and lime, glazed broad beans,caramelised onions, broad bean and mint puree

Surprise special! Savoury ice cream of foie gras with a warm emulsion of brioche and balsamic caramel

Kid – slow-grilled Pyrenean kid, caramelised spring onion, broad beans, glazed white turnips, white onion and lemongrass puree, lemon thyme jus, shepherds pie

Pre-dessert: Fennel cream with frozen raspberry

White asparagus – white asparagus cream, black olive tuile, white chocolate and goats cheese ice cream
Caramel – balsamic mousse, salted caramel parfait, sorbet

Coffee & petit fours: smoked fudge, honey salted caramel, plain chocolate granache, white chocolate truffle