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!

India and Bangladesh

Sunset at India Gate
I’m just back from a 9-day work trip to India and Bangladesh, spending time in both New Delhi and Dhaka.

This was my first trip to anywhere in South Asia. My immediate impressions were:

  • Both cities have an amazing energy – people are actively looking for the next big opportunity. They also have the confidence of being involved in a global economy. Although the dogs in Delhi seem to have a quiet life.
    Dhaka street scene
    Let sleeping dogs lie
  • Wealth and poverty are very close – one swish apartment building had a set of tin shacks at its base – probably the people who keep the apartments clean.
    Apartment block and slums side by side
  • The pace of development is astonishing – people I visited commented on the way that things have changed even over the past 2 years.

Both places definitely left a big impression. I’m hoping to get back, if possible. It will be fascinating to see how they change over the next few years.

See more pictures of Delhi and Dhaka on Flickr.

The Samling, Ambleside

We’ve had a cracking weekend at The Samling in Ambleside. The Samling is a luxuriously comfortable hotel high up on the banks of Windermere.

Samling

We stayed in the Tyan room, with it’s striking blue Lake District wallpaper.

Tyan

This room has a gorgeous view over Windermere, which was particularly special while eating a full breakfast brought to our room.

View from Tyan

The hotel has a fantastic restaurant, with a coherent and complex menu featuring the best ingredients. We ate from the same menu on both nights:

Canapes: bread sticks and dips
– parmesan & green pesto
– beetroot & sour cream
– cumin & curried aubergine

Amuses bouche:
– boiled egg, white bean creme, chorizo
– pesto, red pepper, parmesan foam

Chicken mosaic with leek, prune & lentils
Roast scallops, chicken oysters, celeriac puree
Slow cooked Gloucester old spot, langoustine, celeriac puree
Red mullet, minestrone, crushed ratte potatoes

Wild venison, dauphinoise of roast vegetables, cabbage
Braised Herdwick mutton, shoulder, shank, langoustine, artichoke puree, potato
Fillet of brill, curried parsnip, kipper tortellini

Cheese (for one night only!): 5 Northern English cheeses

Pre-dessert: Cinnamon tuile, sherry jelly, catalan creme, acacia honey sorbet

“Apples from the Samling garden” – apple pie, apple parfait, apple brulee, apple sorbet
Chocolate delice, fennel ice cream, mandarin jelly
Poached pear, olive oil ice cream, upside-down pudding

Coffee & petit fours
– lemon meringue
– lemon & thyme shortbread
– blackcurrant jelly
– chocolate & hazlenut cluster
– madeleine

Phew!

To walk off the effects of this meal, we had some spectacular, although slightly snowy, walks, particularly from Patterdale

Brothers Water, Patterdale

and above Windermere

Windermere

Cannes

I was in Cannes this week at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, held in the conference centre next to the beach.

Cannes Beach Croisette

While the daytime was all work (honestly), I used the evenings to explore Cannes, walking along La Croisette promenade, climbing up through Le Suquet to the Tour Castres, eating wonderful fresh seafood – the best was Astoux & Brun near the Vieux Port.

Antibes is only a 15 minute train ride from Cannes, so I went for an explore there one evening. It was nice to sit outside a cafe drinking beer on a November evening. Can’t do that in Glasgow. And again, I was able to discover a good small restaurant which served really good fish.

Antibes Marina

The Samling

View from Tyan, Samling
A brilliant 2 night stay at The Samling. We stayed in the Tyan – a large room decorated in a traditional Lake District blue pattern – very like something produced by the Timorous Beasties. Usual sumptuous bathroom, great to relax in the bath after walking round the Fairfield Horseshoe.

The best thing about the Samling is that they serve breakfast in your room – we therefore had breakfast overlooking Lake Windermere both mornings – see the picture for the view. We ended up ordering most things on the menu, but the French toast, maple syrup and fresh fruit was the definite highlight.

The restaurant is quite good too – the particular highlight for us was the roast fig with goats cheese ice cream, which we each had both nights.

Friday
Cheek of Gloucester old spot, langoustines, celeriac puree.

Noisette of lamb
Sea bass, lasagne of Cornish crab.

Whole roast fig, fig turnover, goats cheese ice cream.

Saturday
Ballantine of ham, piccalilli, souffle of Mrs Kirkham’s cheddar.
Foie gras.

Venison (loin & shank), haggis ravioli, neeps & tatties.

Whole roast fig, fig turnover, goats cheese ice cream (again)

Service was excellent throughout the weekend. The staff were really friendly and approachable, and made the stay a real pleasure.