If you need to know just how difficult it is to run a restaurant talk to James and Tommy Banks, the two brothers behind the much feted Black Swan at Oldstead. James remembers that despite earning a Michelin they found it difficult to fill this out-of-the-way restaurant on a quiet Wednesday in November. They were on the brink of closure when Tommy took part in the Great British Menu. It meant the Black Swan could reach a wider audience and from then on the phone never stopped ringing. They were, and still are, fully booked every night. TV helped make a success of the Black Swan and led them to open a second location, Roots in York, which was booked out even before it opened.
Tommy Banks of the Black Swan at Oldstead and Roots, York
Things have been less happy for others. Rascills, where chef Richard Johns cooks like a dream but couldn’t get enough punters through the door at the restaurant he runs with his wife Lyndsey at Raskelf and has announced their closure at the end of the year. With plenty to choose from in York, diners have less inclination to travel the 15 miles to Raskelf.
Rascills will be there until Christmas, so we urge you to make a visit for dinner or for one of the best Sunday lunches in the county served on the last Sunday of every month.
Another distinguished restaurant Alimentum in Cambridge closed earlier this month, though happily for us in Yorkshire, head chef Samir Effa has been signed up by Simon Gueller at the Box Tree, presumably with the job of regaining the Michelin star it lost this year after holding it for 14 years.
When Andrew Pern, chef/patron of the Star Inn at Harome lost his Michelin star a few years back, he recalled how he got back in the kitchen and between him and his head chef Steve Smith, they covered every single shift for the next three years until they’d won back that star.
Good news then that having taken a back seat for the last few years, Simon Gueller has reported that he will be back in the kitchen invigorating the Box Tree. We wish all these hardworking chefs well.
Andrew Pern has announced a programme of guest chef nights at the Star Inn the Harbour, Whitby. The first one in February with James Mackenzie of the Pipe & Glass is already sold out, but you can still book for 15 March when Kenny Atkinson (Great British Menu winner) of Newcastle’s House of Tides will be laying on a Geordie inspire menu, four courses at £45 per person’
On 10 May Galton Blackiston who cooks at his Michelin starred Morston Hall in Norfolk, will be presenting a fish menu based on his new book ‘Hook, Line, Sinker’ recently shortlisted for the Gourmand World Cook Book Awards.
To book email or telephone 01947 821900 www.starinntheharbour.co.uk
Monday saw the launch of the 2018 UK Michelin Guide – streamed live in front of an invited audience. After an interminable build up they finally announced the 16 new stars.
No new stars for Yorkshire, seems their inspectors never get beyond Leicester apart from a star for Moor Hall at Aughton near Ormskirk and Loch Bay on the Isle of Skye. Unusually Michelin announced a third star, (making a total of only five in the UK) for The Araki, a London sushi restaurant with just nine covers that serves one set menu at £300 per person. Drinks extra!
Happily all the current Yorkshire star holders held on to their badges and remain in the club. Once again congratulations to Skosh and Joro for their Bib Gourmand – recognition by Michelin for a restaurant (or chef) worth watching.
We wrote way back in 2012 why we believe Michelin to be an outdated and irrelevant award but we understand why it means so much to chefs. For an interesting article in the London Eater on why Michelin’s matter click here.
Congratulations to Skosh, York and Joro, Sheffield on their Michelin Bib Gourmand announced this morning. So glad we visited and reported some time ago, we’ll never get a table now. Congratulations too to our neighbours the Staith House, North Shields for their Bib Gourmand.
The big one, the Michelin stars, are announced on Monday, 2nd October, live streamed at 11.30am. It’s my guess that York’s Cochon Aveugle will be crossing their fingers. It’s too soon for Horto, though the inspectors appear very keen on the small plates Scandi vibe.
There will be a lot of breath-holding among the current Yorkshire star holders hoping to hold on to their stars, the Star Inn, the Yorke Arms, the Black Swan, the Pipe and Glass, the Man Behind the Curtain and the Box Tree. No pressure guys.
It’s Wednesday lunchtime and chef Andrew Pern is sitting in his whites at a table in his own Star Inn at Harome but there’s no food in sight and the cutlery and napkins have been pushed aside to make way for a large ‘mood board’ of magazine cuttings with ideas for his next big venture.
Rockpool of shellfish with oyster ice cream and seaweed velouté
The Star Inn the Harbour is his latest project. A 160 cover fish restaurant to be housed in the former Tourist Information Centre in the heart of Whitby. The plan is to open in May with a dining area, bar, ice cream parlour and outdoor seating. It’s a plum location in the heart of the town right by the harbour. No wonder the local competition are a little jumpy.
A preliminary menu (which he warns is bound to change) majors on fish and seafood (£5-£15 starters/£15-£22 mains). Naturally they’ll be doing fish and chips: ‘We’d be stupid not to,’ he says, but also Dover sole; monkfish ‘scampi’; halibut and lobster thermidor. On ice: oysters, langoustines, lobster, crevettes then maybe deep fried calamari, fish soup and his fabulous posh prawn cocktail served with a Bloody Mary sorbet.
There will be Rockpool, a Star Inn favourite. He dashes to the kitchen: ‘I’ll get them to make you one’. What comes out is a wooden box filled with pebbles and seaweed: ‘a bit of theatre’ he says and in a hand thrown pot (100 newly commissioned from a local potter) come scallops, prawns, oyster and mussels topped with oyster ice cream and in another pot, a seaweed velouté to pour over.
You will thank me for trying it so that I can confirm it’s absolutely terrific.
It’s also the reason why Pern has a Michelin star and why in January, the Star won Best Gastropub in Britain. Me, I’m counting down to May when the Star rises over the harbour and Andrew Pern, (he was born here) comes home.
It’s the awards time of year, so here’s a quick round up:
The 2017 Waitrose Good Food Guide came out in September with new entries for Ox Club and Tharavadu in Leeds, White Rabbit in Todmorden and the Crathorne Arms south of Middlesbrough. One of our favourites, the Swine that Dines is credited in a list of ‘Best New Openings’ with our congratulations to Ian Myers who is named as ‘a chef to watch’.
Last week the UK Michelin Guide was published with no surprises for Yorkshire, just a sigh of relief I suspect for the six Yorkshire restaurants that retained their stars. They are: the Star at Harome, the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill; the Black Swan at Oldstead; the Box Tree, Ilkley; the Pipe & Glass at South Dalton and the Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds.
Among our near neighbours: Raby Hunt at Darlington has been awarded a second star, a stunning accolade and one of only 20 in the UK. Single stars are retained by House of Tides, Newcastle; Fischer’s of Baslow and Northcote at Langho.
Michelin’s ‘affordable dining’ award, the Bib Gourmand goes to Prashad in Drighlington, Chadwicks of Maltby and Le Langhe in York.
Yorkshire got a look-in at the Great British Pub Awards with
Best Beer Pub: the Sheffield Tap. Best Student Pub: the Doctor’s Orders, Sheffield. Best Cider Pub: Foley’s Tap House, Leeds and across the border Best Food Pub for the Freemason’s at Wiswell near Clitheroe.
Breaking news: Richard Johns (Falcon Inn, Withernwick) and Andrew Pern (chef/prop. of the Star Inn and Star Inn the City) are linking up for a new venture in York. We’ve long been fans of chef Richard and Lindsey Johns ever since their days at Artisan in Hessle.
Richard and Lindsey Johns
They closed there in 2013 feeling they had taken the restaurant as far as they could as a two-person operation. After a break to recharge, they surprised us all by opening at the Falcon Inn in Withernwick, 15 miles from Beverley in the far reaches of east Yorkshire, so it was a surprise to hear from Richard that ‘due to circumstances we do not control there is no long term future here’.
The couple are relocating to York in mid May to ‘work on a new project with Andrew Pern’. The location of Andrew’s new venture is still under wraps until negotiations are complete but we will keep you posted.
While the Johns’ move is a loss for East Yorkshire it’s good news for York. We wish them all the very best of luck.
If you want to sample dishes prepared by the best Yorkshire chefs then you need to book a place at the Devonshire Arms (Bolton Abbey) Food and Wine Week which begins on Monday.
Mandy and I were invited last year for a cook-off lunch between the Dev’s chef Adam Smith and the Box Tree’s Lawrence Yates and it was terrific.
Adam Smith, head chef of the Devonshire Arms
This year it kicks off with a dinner cooked by what is arguably Yorkshire’s top five chefs: Adam Smith (Devonshire Arms), Andrew Pern (Star at Harome), James Mackenzie (Pipe & Glass), Tim Bilton (Spiced Pear) and Stephanie Moon (Rudding Park).
On Tuesday it will be a War of the Roses lunch pitching Nigel Haworth from Northcote Manor in Lancashire, (who has his own food festival coming up) against Adam Smith.
If you’ve never been to the famous L’Enclume in Cartmel, Thursday is a chance to sample some of head chef Mark Birchall’s remarkable food.
The food and wine week closes on Sunday 7th December with an evening of wines from Joe Fattorini of Bibendum Wines and a tasting menu prepared by Adam Smith. Prices range from £30 to £95.
For more information go to www.thedevonshirearms.co.uk
To book: email@example.com or T: 01756 718155
In the last couple of weeks I have, by coincidence, had the rare treat of eating in four of our top ten restaurants, and what a delight. Everyone of them different and all of them operating at the top of their game.
Yorke Arms at Ramsgill in Nidderdale
A night at the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill, presented a sophisticated summer menu full of delicate, fresh flavours sourced from their own veg. garden overflowing with produce.
Then there was our longstanding raffle prize to cash in, a night and dinner at the Pipe and Glass which despite its Michelin star still operates as a pub. We began in the bar with a pint of Two Chefs, the newish honey beer created by the two chefs James Mackenzie and Andrew Pern and a Mason’s Yorkshire gin and tonic, which was astonishingly different to your regular Gordon’s. Dinner was hearty and robust without sacrificing finesse – lovely food firmly set in the region. Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon brought to our room the next day rounded off a terrific stay.
We popped into the Star Inn at Harome one Friday evening on the off-chance and despite a busy bar the charming waiter found us a table, served up a beautiful plate of halibut, heady with truffle, and brought us more of that Two Chefs ale.
Fox & Hounds, Goldsborough, near Whitby
Finally, a birthday celebration took us to another of our favourite places, the Fox and Hounds at Goldsborough. If you’ve never been to this hidden gem, (it really is tucked away on a clifftop hamlet miles from anywhere) then go now. A short but utterly perfectly balanced menu of crab risotto followed by monkfish with polenta doused in Greek olive oil rounded off with a supremely chocolatey chocolate torte.
Four of my all time favourite restaurants, all in Yorkshire. Please send your condolences for these tough assignments.
We’re excited to see building work progressing at the Star Inn the City beside Lendal Tower in York. It’s a great location in a corner of the lovely Museum Gardens and bordering the river. Refurbishment of the Old Engine House – the main restaurant – is well underway and we have watched the diggers preparing for the brand new glazed extension and outdoor dining space to the side. Altogether it will seat 120 and is due to open late autumn. We can’t wait.
Artists impression ot the Star Inn the City