First look: York’s Star Inn The City restaurant opens its doors

Strawberries, lobster and champagne at The Star Inn the City? Go on then, we'll force ourselves

This blustery, sputtering October morning is not the ideal context for the opening of the Star Inn The City. The Ouse is swollen and the rains are hammering down on its Grand Designs style decking.

But as you walk through the glass doors of the new 130-seat restaurant you get the sense that the weather is wholly irrelevant.

The space is undeniably beautiful and well thought out. The garden room, which is largely glass, casually looks over the river. Striking exactly the right balance between luxurious and cosy, it’s difficult to contemplate leaving once inside.

Other highlights include an upstairs private dining area, and a snug chef’s table. I’m also shown a Yurt outside, which evokes a sort of laid back Glasto glamour vibe.

An oasis of calm, you could rather quickly imagine yourself in a rural North Yorkshire setting, except you didn’t have to endure miles of winding, nausea inducing roads to get here and you probably haven’t had a fraught exchange about directions en route.

On the downside unlike the countryside you have signal and all your emails still come through (they have free wifi).

“Exactly,” says joint-owner Justin Brosenitz. “We wanted to bring a piece of the country to the city.

“We fell in love with the location, because the Museum Gardens have that rural feel to it.”

With Lendal Bridge now closed to traffic, perhaps this is not such a stretch…

A new use for an old building
A new use for an old building
The full height of the old engine house has been used
The full height of the old engine house has been used
The first floor dining area
The first floor dining area

Justin is joint owner of Star Inn The City with Andrew Pern, one of Yorkshire’s most revered chefs. The Star at Harome, near Helmsley, won him a Michelin star in 2001, which he held onto for ten years, and is frequently touted as the North’s finest restaurant.

As such expectations for this spin-off are high to say the least. Justin tells me they have “already taken 5,000 bookings before Christmas”. This sends me into a mild panic, I had already begun constructing elaborate plans of when I was going to eat there.

But luckily the restaurant is being set up in that trendy all day dining style, serving everything from coffee and breakfast starting at 8am to lunch, afternoon tea and of course dinner. Justin reassures me that I’ll “definitely have some luck at lunchtime”.

The all day dining menu features the sort of posh comfort food that’s enduringly popular. Diners can enjoy everything from aged steak to gastro-style fish fingers, with prices ranging from about £10 to £30.

The evening menu will initially take its lead from The Star Inn at Harome, featuring a couple of their most loved dishes, although it will change seasonally. Expect prices north of £20 for some mains.

The modern exterior
The modern exterior
What's your Star sign?
What’s your Star sign?

Justin and Andrew met at Scarborough catering college, which has spawned a string of prolific chefs including James Martin, although Justin laughs “at the time we certainly didn’t realise how prolific we would be”.

You get a sense that the pair really have an understanding of and commitment to York. Justin was born and bred here and says when “deciding on a location for their new project there was no other option, but York”.

They are committed to using Yorkshire produce with Justin pointing out that even the cappuccino I’m sipping has been “made using beans from the York Coffee Emporium, who have created a special blend just for us”.

Before I leave I slightly press Justin as to whether he has any concerns opening a new restaurant in a city which couldn’t sustain the critically acclaimed J Bakers.

“None at all, I think we’ve found a gap in the market and have created a space that will appeal to the many different demographics of York. We are suitable for business meetings, family lunches and everything in between.”

Time will tell. With the reputation cultivated at Harome, the stunning riverside location, and with what promises to be incredible food, it could well be a Star in this city.

History on a plate

The Star Inn The City is built into York’s history. The original building, which backs on to the City Walls, was constructed in 1836 to house the York Waterworks pump engine, built by Joseph Smeaton in 1784.

The engine was removed to new works at Acomb Landing in about 1850 after which the engine house was converted to office use. And now it’s started a new life.


 

9 thoughts on “First look: York’s Star Inn The City restaurant opens its doors

  1. Lovely building in a beautiful setting, Disappointing food – we had the set menu so avoid that until the chef can get it more balanced. Pork terrine with salad garnished with crackling. The crackling was a hard cold slice of bacon – not what I was looking forward to eating. The pork was a ice cold lump of what tasted like rillettes – far too much for a starter. The warm home made bread to start was definitely not. This rather heavy starter was followed by venison sausages with chard and colcannon – or rather it should have been. It was actually rather nice sausages – three! – with colcannon but lacking chard – heavy again. The sauce was tasty. Needless to say we had no room for pudding but ordered coffee which was another disappointment. I ordered a flat white which arrived in a tea cup and was weak white coffee. Even M&S can serve a good flat white. The wine was fine. I really hope my next visit is a better experience – York needs good food.

  2. Last week Gill and I popped in twice to enjoy a morning coffee with nibbles . The atmosphere was very relaxing, the chef very friendly with staff who were wonderful.
    We enjoyed the whole experience and in a unique setting by Lendal Bridge.
    We are advising all our contacts from Blackpool to call when they are in York.
    Mayor of Blackpool 2010- 2011

  3. We went to the Star on Sunday late afternoon early evening. The whole experience is excellent. Having read some of the reviews then i can understand that its not for everyone if they are comparing it to Pub food. It is a fine dining experience at affordable prices and as someone that eats out regularly in York and other areas it is one of the best i’ve seen in a long while. Personally looking at the menu was not a problem there seems to be something for everyone and their “startlets” range for children is very reasonably priced. York is awash with restaurants and eating places and the Star is just what is needed at the top end of the range. It will be very popular in winter and summer whether for lunch or dinner. We will certainly be going back on regular occasions. We wish all the best to the owners and hope it brings them the success they deserve.

  4. We went to the ‘star in the city’ for drinks on Saturday evening and found the venue and atmosphere extremely enjoyable. The staff are very helpful and in tune with the surroundings and seemed to provide an ‘enhanced enthusiasm’ for the place and customers and this added to the experience. Definitely a place for Christmas celebrations and somewhere that will add to this stunning part of York city centre…

    … There is disabled access to the rear via a generous ramped access, with level access through to the main restaurant area

    Only criticism.., difficult for none York residents to find as there was little indication from the street where the restaurant is!

    ‘Excellent’ venue made all the more enjoyable by the enthusiastic and well presented staff

    Well done!

  5. Please can you advise on wheelchair accessibility to your restaurant. Has this been catered for as part of the refurbishment – if only via a back entrance? My family and I have eaten many times at your Harome establishment and would love to try out your latest venture in our home city! Thanks in anticipation.

  6. My son and I went fro drinks at the star inn on sunday pm, we absolutely loved it, just what York needs , we will definately return to eat.

  7. I went to the star inn and found the menu hard to read the price was hard to understand , although the building was laid out well I think when I had my meal and drinks the final bill would be very expensive , is this place not a family pub

  8. I had trouble figuring out where this restaurant was: the only clue being that it was linked in some way to the Museum Gardens and near the city walls. I was concerned by the name because I, in common with everyone I talked to, confused it with Ye Old Starr Inn in Stonegate. Reading this review was quite surreal until I figured out we had two businesses with similar names – I’m inclined to think this might, in the long term, be a mistake.

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