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My husband always accuses me of never doing anything romantic, so on Valentine’s Day this year I was determined to prove him wrong. Covertly planning a day off work, I surprised him with a day trip to York.
So what was included in the itinerary? Well, a cup of tea and a fat rascal at Betty’s Tearooms on arrival, of course. Then a little shopping, a pint in his favourite pub, and finally lunch at The Star Inn the City.
I have to say I was hugely excited and perhaps a little nervous about the prospect of trying Andrew Pern’s latest venture. I am a die-hard fan of the Star Inn at Harome, a pub and restaurant I hold very dear. So could the cool urban sister live up to the family name?
The Star Inn the City – York’s best restaurant?
I needn’t have worried. Firstly, location. An absolutely perfect spot down by the river in the old Lendal engine rooms. The restaurant is actually hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city and yet is in a great central location. There is something quite enchanting about walking down the hill and discovering it beyond an arched gate.
It was delightful to be met by the comforting smell of wood burning in the stove outside: a nice echo of the Harome restaurant.
The interior of The Star Inn the City, York is a clever combination of stylish city bar meets luxury country house hotel. Checked carpets, leather armchairs and open fires all add to a feeling of comfort and warmth. Something to set it apart from the myriad of other city centre restaurants in York. The success of the interiors is unsurprising when you learn that Rachel McLane, interior designer extraordinaire, has weaved her magic with the place.
I opted for the Salty Dog (aka North Sea Fizz) - a heady mix of gin, cocchi Americano, grapefruit juice, salt and sparkling mineral water. It was yummy – too yummy! Hubby, always the traditionalist, opted for some sort of real ale which he assures me was very good.
And so to the food
We had the choice of a specials board and The Star Inn the City signature all day menu.
As it was Valentine’s Day, we plumped for the Lindisfarne Rock Oysters to share with a side order of freshly baked bread. The oysters were delicious and the bread arrived on the table in a flat cap. A bit gimmicky yes, but we enjoyed the nod to Yorkshire.
For main we both had chicken of one sort or another. Mine was a juicy ‘Spatchcock’ spring chicken served with a cabbage waldorf salad, candied walnuts and skinny fries. My other half chose a coq au vin using Harome-reared loose birds' - succulent chicken and the sauce was divine - he even needed more bread to soak up every last drop.
For pudding, I persuaded our waiter to give me the children’s Eton Mess, firstly because I LOVE Eton Mess and secondly because I didn’t have room for anything else. In actual fact, a very generous portion arrived which I devoured within a few minutes. With big fat blackberries and thick rich cream, it was one of the best I’ve had. Apologies to the table next door – I know I was groaning with pleasure too loudly eating this but I just couldn’t help it!
Good, all good. Faith in Mr Pern’s legacy is maintained and we have been gushing about it ever since. My only slight negative was the main menu design. I found it a little confusing and wasn’t overly keen on the layout, but ultimately it had little impact on our enjoyment.
Book a table now, if you can get in that is. Reports are that the restaurant is almost fully booked; a testament to the reputation of a hard working Yorkshire chef with a huge amount of talent. So is it York’s best restaurant? Well for me it’s certainly the leader of the pack for now.