Nestled inside York’s city walls under the shadow of Lendel Tower is a remarkable brasserie. Not least because, despite its rather secretive location, it was heaving with York’s great and good; from the hipster cocktail crowd to good old-fashioned Yorkshire pinters.
Having said that, it should be no surprise, as it is the little sister of Andrew Pern’s Michelin starred Star Inn deep in the Yorkshire hamlet of Harome.
I say little sister as the Star Inn the City is the much lighter version; it’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the riverside deck is a perfect spot to have a pit stop from sightseeing.
Once you find it though (down stone steps, through an ancient archway and down more steps) you’ll be rewarded with a huge bar, decking by the side of the Ouse and a restaurant set within a floor to ceiling glass conservatory.
The colourful all day menu may look a little garish with cartoon drawings of various animals, but forget all that. It’s the food and service that matters here and it properly delivers on both counts.
And I loved the daily specials menu too, no cartoons, just a simple list plus a secret starter, the details of which were only known by your server. Mysterious indeed.
In the end, we had a bit of both. Despite a tempting starter of curried battered halibut goujons with minted sour cream and wild herbs (£9) Mrs M went for the huge posh prawn cocktail; said prawns with hot oak-smoked salmon, green pea puree, marinated tomatoes and a bloody Mary sorbet (£12). My chicken ‘n’ egg was a very tasty breaded confit of hashed chicken leg with a spicy Yorkshire relish (£10)
So far so excellent then. The outside deck was thinning out now with many moving into the restaurant to continue their cocktails and pints. With the demand on service moving up a notch, our mains still arrived unscathed.
The day’s special of roast fillet of beef with Lyonnais potatoes and bourguignon gravy (£30) was, in reality, a melt in your mouth braised steak. My char-grilled 8oz centre-cut 30-day dry aged fillet with mushroom and butter (£32) came with an added blue cheese sauce (£3.50). I am delighted to report the steak was exactly the colour I requested, which was frankly a pretty tough ask, so credit where credit was due.
We returned to the specials menu for dessert which proved to be a tough choice. In the end, it came down to a straight fight between chilled rhubarb and custard rice pudding with pistachio and toasted almonds (£6) or summer fruit pudding with elderflower jelly and wild strawberry sorbet (£7). The rhubarb won and it didn’t disappoint.
To run an all-day menu and maintain fine dining standards is not an easy task, yet the Star Inn the City team had the confident air of a well-oiled machine. Success does that to you, and by the numbers of heaving bodies in there, this is a very successful corner of York.
Just make sure you don’t get lost in looking for it.
Tell me more about The Star Inn the City
The Star Inn the City, Lendal Engine House, Museum Street, York, YO1 7DR
T: 01904 619208