When we went to The Star Inn at Harome a few years ago, we absolutely loved the food and the ambience of the place. It has been a regular in both the Good Food Guide and the Good Pub Guide for a very long time. So tonight, as we head there for dinner, our expectations are absurdly high.
It seems bigger and smarter than I remember and now feels a little more like a fine dining establishment than a gastropub. We are soon presented with an amuse bouche of warm cheese and fennel sablets with a Hambleton ale relish. The sablets and the relish are both excellent.
I order a pint of the Two Chefs ale. I last had this beer at the Pipe & Glass and the name refers to the fact that it was created by James from the Pipe & Glass and Andrew Pern from here at the Star at Harome. I was not overly impressed when I tried it before but, second time around, I am really enjoying the fragrant notes of cinnamon and nutmeg that come through the ale.
Rock has the gravadlax of oak-smoked halibut with sourdough crumpets, oyster emulsion, mayonnaise and sea vegetables. It is perfectly fine but she is not as wowed as she hoped to be. I have the freshly steamed Isle of Shuna mussels mariniére. I am wowed – the mussels are superb.
Planning ahead to leave room for dessert, Rock has another starter for her main course – ravioli of beer braised oxtail with fresh horseradish shavings, kitchen garden flowers, leaves and vegetables. She is surprised to find that the ravioli contains very little oxtail and a significant amount of chicken mousse. She doesn’t like the dish at all and leaves it almost untouched …on the plus side, now she has plenty of room for dessert.
We are being looked after by Jen and Alex. The ravioli is immediately taken off the bill and both work hard to try and ensure that Rock is enjoying herself. I have the saddle of local venison cooked over charcoal with a startling range of accompaniments – coffee bean carrots, pistachio cake, pickled cherries and ‘twiglets’. The venison is very good and, although I enjoy some of the added extras, I am starting to feel that the kitchen is trying too hard to be inventive.
Rock moves on to the spiced braised pineapple with a pineapple sorbet and she is back in the game. I have the gooseberry and lemon verbena rice pudding with an elderflower custard doughnut. The rice pudding is a great balance of sweet and sour and I have an excellent elderflower spritzer to go with it.
While we can’t ignore the ravioli, which was a travesty compared to the oxtail pasta dish we had at Mannion & Co, the rest of the food was very good indeed. The drinks were excellent and the service, from Jen and Alex, was superb.