Professor Plum had: Starter: Lobster niçoise with garlic aioli, soft boiled quail egg and French bread toasts; Main course: Warm lamb salad with goats cheese, charred baby scallions, rosemary vinaigrette and pickled red onions; Dessert: White chocolate and raspberry knickerbocker glory with ginger parkin crumbs.
Colonel Mustard had: Starter: Seared sea scallops with spiced pork cheek, cauliflower purée and picalilli vinaigrette; Main course: Roast fillet of pork with garden sage bubble ‘n’ squeak, granny smith purée, black pudding faggot and cider gravy; Dessert: Chocolate espresso and hazelnut mousse.
The Star Inn the City is probably York’s most fêted restaurant, commonly tipped for a future Michelin star. We’d been meaning to pop in for a while, but knew it was the kind of place we’d need to book. I popped in one lunch on the off chance, and successfully booked for that evening.
Now, one of the things The Star is best known for is its beautiful surroundings in the museum gardens. If you want to enjoy the view, a tip? Go while it’s light! We weren’t massively bothered, since we’re both more than familiar with the gardens, but it did tickle us. Besides, the building itself is very pretty, and you have to walk through the garden wall to get there, which is very atmospheric.
The menus are A3 laminated card and decorated with twee animals, a weirdly motorway service station touch in the elegant surroundings. The food is nicely described with a fair amount of detail, though we did feel like some of the ingredients were chosen just to make patrons ask about them (Yorkshire Woof, for example, is not the losers of One Man and His Dog). To start, Mustard ordered the scallops and I had the lobster, because why not? Due to the seasonal nature of the menu, neither is currently listed.
The lobster came with caviar, which hadn’t been listed on the menu. Unfortunately, my fish allergy meant I had to hand this treat over the Mustard. Other than that, the dish was beautiful both in presentation and taste. Very tall! I loved the richness of the quails eggs against the saltiness of the tapenade, the crunch of the bread against the fleshiness of the capers.
For mains, Mustard had pork and apple, while I had a lamb and goat’s cheese warm salad. Again, beautiful to look at, but I found the dish a little unbalanced. There was nearly a whole log of goat’s cheese in it, and much as I love the stuff, it did make the lamb look a little scant by comparison. The lamb was perfectly pink and went brilliantly with the red onion and vinaigrette, and I’d have loved more of it.
We decided we’d go with pudding as well, and were surprised to find we had exactly the opposite complaint: too much of it! That’s not a problem I’ve ever had in an upscale restaurant before. I had a white chocolate and raspberry knickerbocker glory, and Mustard had a coffee and chocolate cream. Mine came in a tall glass, as a knickerbocker glory ought to, which was then balanced on an inch thick slice of tree. The rustic aesthetic was not appreciated, I’m afraid to say, since it made it very hard to eat the dessert! Mustard’s chocolate cream came in a large, shallow cup – a cocoa cup rather than an espresso cup. Both of us polished everything off, of course, but it was a near thing after a large meal.
Overall, the restaurant itself was lovely and the food was very good, but the only thing the Star can claim over York’s many other French Bistros and Traditional English eateries is the elegance of its plating. We’re spoilt for seasonal, locally produced food here, and usually cheaper, too. If our expectations hadn’t been so high maybe I wouldn’t have been as disappointed, but if you’d rather save a few pence on some equally good but not so pretty food, consider Melton’s Too. If you don’t mind paying a bit more for a beautiful setting and beautiful looking food, consider the Star.
Colonel Mustard: I’ve never before been to a restaurant with such a discrepancy in aesthetic quality between the menu (as in the list of food that you order from) and the menu (as in the food as it’s served to you). While the former is nauseatingly twee to the point of Peter Rabbit quotes and illustrations, the latter is frequently stylish and stunning in a way that would happily grace a Michelin starred restaurant. My starter looked good, but didn’t quite find the right balance in flavour, unlike the main that, for all that it was posh pork and apple, was superb. It’s a classic combination, especially paired with black pudding, and this version was cooked to perfection as much as I’d hoped the Star would be. The dessert was indeed too big. Not a common complaint, I’ve got to say.