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.
The Morning Advertiser (the publican’s newspaper) has just announced its Top 50 Gastropubs. First place is taken by the Sportsman at Seasalter some considerable miles from us near Whitstable in Kent, but second is the Pipe and Glass (above) at South Dalton and third, the Star at Harome while Shibden Mill comes in at 44. Congratulations to all concerned though I’m not sure whether any of them really fit my understanding of a gastropub and I could also supply the names of a score more Yorkshire pubs worthy of inclusion, but if you want to read the full list, it’s here.
The UK Michelin Guide is out today and the big news for Yorkshire is the Star at Harome winning back its star. We’ve always rated them and we’re glad to see them back in the Michelin club. Congratulations to Andrew Pern and his team.
All the rest of the Michelin starred restaurants in Yorkshire have retained their gongs, that’s the Pipe and Glass, South Dalton, the Box Tree in Ilkley, the Black Swan at Oldstead, the Old Vicarage, Sheffield, the Yorke Arms at Ramsgill.
As well as stars, Michelin also award Bib Gourmands for a decent meal under £30 and this year have given one to our long time favourite, Le Langhe in York.
If you want to study the full list go to Elizabeth Auerbach’s brilliant site for all things Michelin www.elizabethonfood.com/
Congratulations to all star holders and to all the other fabulous Yorkshire restaurants and chefs who didn’t get a star. To be honest, we don’t care, we know that all the places on Squidbeak are worth a detour.
Andrew Pern photo: Andrew McKinstry
Museum Gardens is the green heart in the centre of York. Its lovely lawns and flower beds are bordered by centuries of history with the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey, the Roman multangular tower, a delightful little observatory and the timbered Hospitium. On sunny days visitors and office workers spread across the greensward for impromptu picnics. All that’s missing is a café. Not any more. Andrew Pern of the much loved Star Inn at Harome is to open The Star Inn the City in the old Engine House close by the river. It’s a peach of a location – as long as the building can cope with the flooding that afflicts this corner of York. The 130 cover restaurant promises to be a fantastic addition to the city and – for me – it’s a tough five minute walk from home. Result.
So the Michelin stars have been doled out again and with one exception there’s been no change in Yorkshire. But what a exception. The Star at Harome has been stripped of its star to complete an annus horribilis for Andrew and Jacqui Pern what with a food poisoning scare, personal upheavals, the rebutted story of bullying in the kitchen and a vague worry that Andrew Pern has been spreading himself too thin with all his demos and publicity shots. There will be schadenfreude on some lips not least because Pern made no secret of his ambition to win a second star.
A few days ago we warned against putting too much trust in the Michelin star system. It’s simply not the best barometer of the best food, merely of a style of food. The trouble is that the Oscar-winning film and the Booker Prize-winning book may not be the best but they don’t half double their money once they win. If there’s any wryness to be had out of the Star’s demotion it is that Welcome To Yorkshire’s hugely funded promotion of Yorkshire dining, which is relentlessly defined by the county’s Michelin stars and personified by Andrew Pern’s smiling face on its magazine covers, will have to have an overdue rethink.
Meanwhile let’s not bury Caesar yet. I’ve eaten at the Star twice in the last 12 months and while I’m no big fan of the new dining room or its two-star ambition now so badly punctured, I have to say the food was still on terrific form. This is not a case like Winteringham Fields where a once great restaurant was critically diminished by the loss of Germaine Schwab from the kitchen. The Perns created something unique at the Star. They’ll be terribly hurt by today’s news but I hope they trust in what made them great in the first place and learn not to give a stuff about the blown-up Michelin. And I hope their clientele follow suit.